Class Acts: Waubonsie Valley's Heidenrich was a 'no-brainer'
Waubonsie Valley athletic director Chris Neibch annually nominates a student-athlete he feels is worthy of Illinois High School Association Academic All-State honors.
"This year was a no-brainer," he said.
So to speak. Senior cross country and track athlete Ashley Heidenrich owns a cumulative 4.77 grade-point average on a 4-point scale. That not only leads her class of more than 600 students, Neibch said it's the highest GPA in the school's 45-year history.
Heidenrich, who will run at Johns Hopkins University, has taken nothing less than honors courses throughout high school, including 11 advanced-placement classes her junior and senior years.
"I thought it was pretty exciting just to be nominated in a group of so many athletes, especially since we have such a talented state," Heidenrich said.
"I thought it was really cool just to be able to represent the school because I've really enjoyed the last four years of school academically and athletically. I've had a really great experience at Waubonsie."
Before the COVID-19 pandemic she was headed toward her best track season.
Winning the 2019 Class 3A Oswego East cross country regional and placing second at the St. Charles East sectional, Heidenrich earned all-state honors with an 11th-place finish in the state finals, running a program-record time of 17 minutes, 5.49 seconds.
In this brief indoor track season, on Feb. 21 at York she became the first Waubonsie girl to break 11 minutes in the 3,200 run, indoors or out, clocking 10:57.06.
That topped her outdoor program record of 11:01.86 at the 2019 Class 3A Metea Valley sectional. The next week she placed 17th in the 3,200 in Charleston, again all-state.
Running 1,600 meters in 5:11.92 indoors at Wheaton Warrenville South put her on pace to top the Warriors' 38-year-old outdoor mark of 5:06.0.
"I'm still training like we're going to have a state meet, because I don't want to have any regrets if it does happen," she said.
Heidenrich's drive continues off the track and the 30 forest preserve trails she's run, what she calls "going on a little adventure."
She works with Waubonsie special needs students as a Peer Partner in gym class; she volunteers with special needs children at Good Shepherd Church in Naperville.
A Girl Scout from kindergarten through her junior year, Heidenrich enjoys healthy cooking to stay fit and to help her busy parents, Tom and Tasha. When shopping she'll add items for one of Tasha's friends who recently had surgery and can't yet visit stores.
"She's an awesome girl. And she's not a bad athlete, too," Neibch said.
At Johns Hopkins she's considering majoring in public health and international relations, a perfect combination for one who gives back, and at a time like this.
"I really like biology and I'd really like to get into the political side of public health," Heidenrich said.
"Definitely with the coronavirus outbreak I've been interested in it more. With how things have been handled I'd like to make a change in the future if there is another outbreak."