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Junior Emil Heineking became Virginia’s first-ever two-time male cross country All-American at the NCAA Championships last fall and added an ACC Individual Cross Country Championship to his list of accolades this past weekend. Heineking led the men to a runner-up finish at the conference meet with his victory and remained undefeated on the season. The Chardon, Ohio native has won the individual title at the Lou Onesty Invitational, George Mason Invitational, Panorama Farms Invitational and the ACC Championships. He even shattered the course record at the Panorama Farms Invitational, leading seven runners across the line under the previous mark.

Virginia will host the Cavalier Open this Friday at Panorama Farms in preparation for next weekends Southeast Regional Championships. Races are set to begin at 4 p.m.

Question: You won your first ACC Individual Championship this weekend. What was the race like?
Heineking: The race was good. I decided the night before that I was going to go out hard and challenge the rest of the field to go with me. I was expecting more racers to follow me out to a fast start, but I found myself running alone shortly after a half-mile. It made for a lonely and much more challenging race. With all that though, I’m very happy to earn my first ACC Individual Championship.

Question: A Florida State runner and teammate Ryan Collins gave you a run for your money at the last second. What were you thinking in those final moments?
Heineking: In the final moments of the race I was convinced I was going to lose the race, but something clicked in my mind and I found an extra gear and kicked for the win.

Question: You’ve won all four of your races this season. Looking back to the Panorama Farms Invitational – you shattered the course record with your performance. Was that a goal of yours for that race?
Heineking: I went into the race wanting to break the course record, but I didn’t think I was capable of running as fast as I did. Throughout the race, I focused on keeping myself calm and composed, which allowed me to handle a fast pace. The 36-second course record was just a nice bonus that came with the race.

Question: You’ve earned All-America honors and now won an ACC Championship. You’re quickly becoming one of the most decorated cross country athletes at Virginia. What else would like to accomplish in the time that you have left?
Heineking: I’d like to keep improving, become a four-time All-American and a two-time ACC champion.

Question: With the regional and national championships coming up, what can fans expect to see from the team?
Heineking: The fans can expect to see us running for the win at the regional championship and putting forth our best effort at Nationals.

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