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Track Star: Kari Heck, Sioux Falls Washington

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To most South Dakota track observers, it was no surprise this weekend when Washington's Kari Heck, our Taco John's Athlete of the Week, picked up titles in the 100, 200 and 400 meter dash at the state meet, but being the favorite didn't stop her from having some butterflies.

"I was a little nervous for the 4," Heck says, "But I knew if I just went out there and ran my best, I'd be ok."

She's been ok all season long. The junior is the only girl in the state this season to break the 12 second mark in the 100, the only one to break the 25 second mark in the 200, and heading into the state meet she held the top time in South Dakota in the 400 by a full second. She just keeps getting better too.

"She just surprises me every year with what she can do." Washington Track Coach Everett Gebhart says, "You think, 'Well maybe she's at her peak' and then all of a sudden she'll put another performance out there that's like wow."

And if not for all the bad weather that's plagued South Dakota track this season, she might've been putting together performances that were even more jaw dropping.

"It's been a difficult season with all the cancelled meets and stuff so some of my times aren't as quick as I was expecting," Heck says, "But at the same time I kind of realized I haven't gotten a chance to run most of them."

There's more to Heck than just her speed though. She's one of the top long jumpers in the country, with leaps that have topped out at 18 feet, nine inches in indoor competition. And even though they might not get as much attention as her sprints, Heck says her abilities in that event are becoming very fine tuned.
"I've actually been long jumping all 4 years of high school, but it's a very technical sport," Heck says, "So I've been working really hard the last couple of years and this year everything's starting to come together and click and so my jumps are getting a lot farther and people are starting to notice it a lot more."

The added attention is something Heck wouldn't mind.

"It's definitely a talent that a lot of people don't know I have," Heck says, "They think I'm mostly a 400 runner, but that's not true."

If she keeps improving like she has been, people will more than likely find that out pretty fast.

Follow KDLT Weekend Sports Anchor Kolbe Nelson on Twitter at @KolbeNelson
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