The Plano West boys cross country team is bound for the Class 6A state meet, scheduled for Saturday at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock. Heikkinen was instrumental in getting the Wolves back to state, winning the Region I-6A meet in Lubbock on Oct. 25.
West’s top distance runner, Heikkinen clocked a 15:25.3 at regionals — winning a nip-and-tuck finish with Abilene’s Andruw Villa that saw Heikkinen surge ahead over the race’s final 100 meters. With Heikkinen leading the way, the Wolves finished third overall with 123 points at regionals.
“Going into the race, I was really focused on the team aspect. I really wanted our whole team to get to state since we all haven’t been since my freshman year,” Heikkinen said. “I know my position on the team is to be up there with the guys at the front, so I went out and sat and kicked. I found the leader and just kicked for the win. My team’s my biggest support group.”
Heikkinen was named Athlete of the Week after receiving 43% of the online reader vote. Also up for consideration were Keldric Luster (Frisco Liberty), Brighton Mooney (Frisco Independence), Kylen Woods (Newman Smith) and Devon Judelson (The Colony).
Did you know?
SLM: You and the Plano West cross country team have a big weekend coming up in Round Rock. What are some individual and team goals for the state meet?
HH: For the team, we feel like it’s possible that we can get podium and I think we’re capable of surprising people even further than that. Individually, I think I’m going to surprise some people out there as well.
SLM: How long have you been distance running and what got you into the sport?
HH: I started freshman year. I had played soccer and basketball all my life. I realized I had some potential as a runner and some of the seniors during my freshman year got me to stay on the cross country team.
SLM: You’ve stuck with it for a few years now. What do you enjoy most about distance running?
HH: I’m very passionate about it and I like the competition aspect of it. I also like the teamwork and camaraderie involved. The team is what really got me to stick with cross country, and I think a lot of the other guys on the team can vouch for that.
SLM: There’s also the dynamic of having your younger brother, Hogan, on the team. What’s that dynamic like, having someone in your own family who can help push you?
HH: It’s nice having someone like that who can hold you accountable 24-7. It’s not just a practice thing — we’re brothers and we’re always competing against each other.
SLM: Being a senior, what would a podium finish at state mean to you?
HH: It would mean everything. I think it would mean a lot for the alumni who have come through Plano West cross country. At the beginning of the summer before the season even started, me, my coach and my teammates talked about Nov. 6 and winning that meet. It’s been our goal since the beginning of the season.