Branden Heinke comes walking onto the Navarre track late Thursday morning carrying a handful of medals. They serve as reminders of all he has accomplished this summer running AAU track with Golden Elite Track and Field Club out of Pensacola.
Once upon a time the rising Raider junior couldn’t have imagined being this successful in the sport. This week, he’s in North Carolina competing at the AAU Junior Olympics at North Carolina A&T’s Irwin Belk Track in Greensboro. He competed in the 1500-meter run Tuesday morning and is scheduled to run in the 3000 Saturday.
“Nine months ago, I didn’t think I’d be at nationals,” Heinke said. “It just shows you where hard work will get you.”
Nine months ago, Heinke was barely into a stretch where he was taking running seriously. He used to play basketball. He had just finished up his first season of cross-country and was heading into his first real year of track. Heinke noted he was barely a JV runner as a freshman.
“I wanted to be varsity and worked my butt off to do it,” Heinke said. “I decided to quit basketball to put all of my focus into running.”
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