Q&A with Emil Heineking
Senior Emil Heineking enters his final cross country season with an already impressive resume. The program’s first two-time cross country All-American, Heineking became the program’s second-straight individual ACC Champion last year and holds the Panorama Farms course record – which he broke at last year’s Panorama Farms Invitational.
This weekend, Virginia will host several nationally ranked teams in the second-annual Panorama Farms Invitational. Races are set to begin Friday at 4 p.m.
Question: You have a big meet this weekend. What are your expectations for the race?
Heineking: I expect this race to be a good test for the team. We have made improvements in our fitness as a group since our last invitational, and we expect to defend our 2009 title. The race will be exciting as there will be three ranked teams including UVa. I cannot wait to race!
Question: You set the course record at this meet last year. Are you looking to improve your time? Or what are your individual goals for the race?
Heineking: It is difficult to go into any cross country race with a specific time goal. The variables are never the same each year. I would like to defend my win from the previous year, whether I get the course record will depend on the conditions during the race. I do think that I am in very good shape, and the record shouldn’t be out of the question.
Question: In your last outing, you faced 2009 NCAA Champion Sam Chelanga. What were you able to take away from that competition?
Heineking: Honestly, I learned that Sam Chelanga is on another level than anyone in the NCAA. I saw in an interview that he hasn’t even started doing workouts and is just now hitting his stride with mileage. It is amazing that he is able to still dominate races with so little work. I was very satisfied that he was the only person that beat me in a stacked race.
Question: This weekend will be your final tune-up before heading to Boston for ACCs. As the defending individual champion, is there anyone in particular on your radar that you feel may be eyeing this year’s title?
Heineking: It’s always hard to make comments about who is who in the ACC. Every year there are the favorites that everyone knows about, and then there are also the few that make great improvements. I try to focus on what I can control rather than worrying about others.
Question: You missed the indoor and outdoor track seasons last year, how does it feel to be back out there competing?
Heineking: It’s great! I actually kind of wish I would have gotten hurt earlier in my college career. It made me reevaluate what I want to accomplish while at UVa. I’m more focused athletically and academically. I was nervous at the start of my last race. It was the first time I had raced in nine months!
Question: With this being your final season of cross country, do you have any particular goals to make sure you have a successful year?
Heineking: This year is about trying to do the right things. I want to do everything right, so I don’t have any regrets with what I do or do not accomplish. I would like to do certain things like win ACCs as a team and individually, win the regional as a team, and place top 10 as a team and individual at NCAAs. It’ll be an exciting year. The team has momentum unlike any year I’ve been at UVa.