Athlete of the week: Kirsten Heikkinen, Rogers, track: Top speed

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Kirsten Heikkinen played softball through ninth grade, following two sisters who were fine ballplayers for Rogers. But one thing nagged at her as she pitched and played first base on the JV that year: She knew she was probably the fastest girl runner in school.

“I have some natural speed, and people kept telling me I should do track,” Heikkinen said. “So I switched in 10th grade. And I love it.”

The 5-foot-5 and 130-pound athlete, who’ll finish with nine letters in three sports, found track to be her best sport, racing to all-conference honors both seasons so far while racking up three school records. She’s on the board with her 13.00 in the 100 dash, and has anchor of the 4×100 and 4×200 teams (51.72 and 1:47.87). Her 200 PB is 27.05.

Kirsten Heikkinen holds Royal records in the 100 dash and two relays, and will finish with 9 letters in 3 sports. (Photo by Bruce Strand)
Kirsten Heikkinen holds Royal records in the 100 dash and two relays, and will finish with 9 letters in 3 sports. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“Kirsten is a strong competitor, a huge competitor; that’s the main thing. She is always working hard to get better,” coach Chris Miller said. “She has also been one of the oldest veterans on an otherwise young team and works well with the younger girls.”

In Mississippi 8 meets, Heikkinen placed second in the 100 and second in the 4×100 relay as a sophomore, and  third in the 200 and second in the 4×200 as a junior. In a sectional loaded with big schools, she’s scored in relays with a fifth-place and three sixth-places those two years, and made the 200 finals last year.

Heikkinen is even more a star student than athlete, with a 4.075 GPA, second in her class. She hopes to become a veterinarian.

The 5-foot-5, 130-pound athlete also puts her speed and strength to good use in soccer and basketball.

She made all-conference last fall as a soccer forward, with five goals and a knack for playmaking.

“Her athleticism stood out and her work ethic,” coach Holly Sutton said. “She has a ‘never settle’ attitude. She set the tone for our performances kind of like (all-stater) Jessica Bianchi did two years ago.”

In basketball she didn’t score much (11 was her high game) but served as a defensive stopper on an 18-10 team.

“Many games she was put on our opponents’ best player because we knew she could stop them,” coach Karlee Anderson said. “Girls in practice hated being her partner for defensive drills, but she made every one of them better.”

Heikkinen missed the final soccer game with a broken collarbone, and three basketball games. Her injury was a rather unusual one. “Wrestling with my boyfriend,” she chuckled. “He fell on me.”

Heikkinen said her favorite sport is “whatever one I’m in at the time … but if I had to choose, I guess it would be basketball.”

Asked what’s been her prep highlight so far, she said, “I’d have to say my first track season when I got three school records.”
With graduation is coming up after one last sports season, this student-athlete who’s met all her high school challenges with aplomb says, “It’s scary, but I will be ready to move on.”


Kirsten Heikkinen
Kirsten Heikkinen

Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Gregg and Jody; older sisters Megan and Kaitlin … Sports: soccer, basketball, track … Other activities: National Honor Society … Academics: 4.075 GPA … College plans: UW-Lacrosse, biology
Favorite stuff — Class: math … TV show:  “Gossip Girls” … Movie: “Despicable Me” … Reading: Harry Potter books … Music: country, especially Eric Church … Teams: Twins, Vikings … Food: pasta, especially fettucini with shrimp … Drink: Gatorade blue … Kickback: swimming, rollerblading … Would like to visit: Ireland