Heinke turns love of running into success story

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.”

Read the full article in the Aug. 1 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.

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