Walker Wal­lace, Mary Caro­line Heinen re­ceive the top honors

Mary Caro­line Heinen found her stride as a run­ner while at Mag­gie Walker

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIC KOLENICH

Dur­ing a two-month stretch of her sopho­more cross coun­try sea­son, Mary Caro­line Heinen cut two min­utes off her per­sonal record and re­al­ized she was an ath­lete after all. She had tried a num­ber of sports and ac­tiv­i­ties over the years, rang­ing from bas­ket­ball to vol­ley­ball, dance and swim­ming. None was a good fit, she found.

“I’d never re­ally been good at other sports,” Heinen said.

When she ar­rived at Mag­gie Walker GS as a fresh­man, she de­cided to give cross coun­try a try. Her friend, Alyssa Wright, was join­ing the team, so Heinen would, too. Heinen found out that year that she wasn’t so bad at run­ning. She fin­ished in the mid­dle of the pack of­ten and crossed the fin­ish line any­where be­tween fifth place and 100th.

Then, in the first race of her sopho­more sea­son, some­thing strange hap­pened. She

fin­ished run­ner-up, just one-tenth of a sec­ond off the win­ner. She re­al­ized that day that she was ca­pa­ble of win­ning high school cross coun­try races. Three weeks later, she won her first race, and her per­sonal record kept fall­ing, from 19 min­utes, 59 sec­onds as a fresh­man to 18:38 at the be­gin­ning of her sopho­more year to 18:01 by mid-Oc­to­ber.

“It was kind of un­be­liev­able to me,” she said.

She won her first of three state ti­tles that year, her first of three All-Metro run­ner of the year honors and her first of three Ju­nior Olympic na­tional ti­tles.

The rest, you might say, is his­tory.

Heinen is grad­u­at­ing Mag­gie Walker now with her sights set on Columbia, where she will con­tinue to run. By virtue of her 4.64 GPA, her five honor so­ci­ety mem­ber­ships, her 1540 score on the SAT and her nu­mer­ous hours spent vol­un­teer­ing, Heinen is the 2020 Rich­mond Sports Back­ers and Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch girls scholar-ath­lete of the year. She re­ceives a schol­ar­ship of $5,750.

Me­gan Mann, a shot put­ter and dis­cus thrower from Lee-Davis, was named the run­ner-up. Mann was the best shot put­ter in the state and the 19th best in the coun­try dur­ing her se­nior in­door sea­son with a mark of 44 feet, 5 1/4 inches. She will com­pete for Lib­erty next year.

Lind­say Cor­ri­gan of Colo­nial Heights was named the win­ner of the Ch­eryl L. Oliver me­mo­rial schol­ar­ship. Cor­ri­gan was a mem­ber of the soc­cer and vol­ley­ball teams and built a 4.34 GPA. She’ll at­tend Christo­pher New­port Univer­sity in the fall.

Mag­gie Walker’s Mary Caro­line Heinen was named Al­lMetro cross coun­try run­ner of the year three con­sec­u­tive times and raced to sev­eral state ti­tles in track.

Heinen ran track, too, com­pet­ing in mid­dle-dis­tance and long-dis­tance events. Her times in the two-mile (10:42.13) and the 3000m (10:04.50) were the best in the state this year dur­ing the in­door sea­son. She racked up six in­door state ti­tles and four out­door state ti­tles dur­ing her high school years, and she holds nu­mer­ous school records.

The feel­ing of win­ning has never got­ten old, even if she’s done it dozens of times.

“No mat­ter how many times I win, each time it’s like I can’t be­lieve I did that, even if I knew I could,” she said.

She picked Columbia for her col­lege for nu­mer­ous rea­sons. To be­gin with, she doesn’t like warm weather. Also im­por­tant are its aca­demic rep­u­ta­tion and the fact that its cross coun­try team won the Ivy League cham­pi­onship last year. Plus, she im­me­di­ately clicked

with the team when she met them, and she has fam­ily near by.

Heinen wants to ma­jor in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing, and her dream job is to be an en­gi­neer for an ath­letic ap­parel com­pany like Nike, de­sign­ing clothes or shoes. In­no­vat­ing the lat­est pro­to­type for a run­ning shoe or the next tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment in ath­letic gear seems like the right fit for Heinen. She’s an ath­lete, after all.

The other eight girls scholar ath­lete fi­nal­ists, who re­ceive $2,500 each: Syd­ney Whit­ing, Trin­ity Epis­co­pal; Willa Shan­non, St. Cather­ine’s; Sa­man­tha Fin­negan, Mag­gie Walker GS; Jailah Chan­ner, St. Cather­ine’s; Rachel Crytser, Hanover; Bai­ley Hair­field, Cosby; Court­ney Is­ley, J.R. Tucker and Emma Grace Ficara, Clover Hill.

2017, TIMES-DIS­PATCH

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