This week’s Athlete of the Week is cross-country sophomore Ashley Heidenrich. So far this season, she has placed first in four of five races, finishing in second in the other race. In her first year of competition, Heidenrich has helped Hopkins win several meets and place highly in others despite running against Division I competition.
The News-Letter had the opportunity to speak with one of the fastest women at Hopkins earlier this week.
The News-Letter: What was it like coming in second and beating your teammate Alex Ross by just two seconds at the Rowan Border Battle [on Oct. 16]?
Ashley Heidenrich: It was really exciting to come in second in a big field! I was working together with my teammates the whole way; we had a big pack around the second mile and my teammate Alex and I were able to work together to the end of the race. Having such a great group to run with makes the races really fun and I find that it’s a lot easier to finish well when you have teammates by your side supporting you for the entire race.
NL: What is it like coming in your first year competing on the team and being able to contribute to the team’s success?
AH: It’s been really cool to see our team’s success so far this season and to get to be a part of it. Since we didn’t have cross country last year, I was especially looking forward to this season and put in a lot of work over the summer so that I could hopefully make a positive contribution to the team. To then be able to come into school this fall and compete with a really talented and hardworking squad has been really special. I think there’s a lot of excitement right now; we’re seeing our hard work over the past couple years through quarantine really pay off and everyone’s just having a lot of fun being able to run cross country again.
NL: Last question: As someone who really competes in essentially an individual sport with a team, do you find yourself being a more competitive or more collaborative runner?
AH: This season has been very team focused. Everyone wants to do their best personally in every race and workout, but in the end our top goal is to compete well as a team. Every day in practice we’re working together and encouraging each other, and that translates into races too. We have a team strategy for every race and try to stay as a pack as long as possible in races. We’ll even give each other fist bumps or words of encouragement during the race. The team aspect in what can seem like a pretty individual sport is one of my favorite things about cross country. Working as a team and getting to all celebrate victories together is so much more fun than just focusing on your individual running.