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|Runner readies for N.C.|
West Ouachita High School senior Jacob Heckford has only been running for a little over two years.
He started running at West Ouachita as a sophomore after playing baseball his freshman year.
Running has always been inside of Heckford — his mother, Lisa Heckford, was one of the top runners in the Southland Conference while running for coach Dennis Groll from 1981-1985 at then-Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM). Groll now coaches Jacob in Monroe's Peak Performance Track & Field Club.
Jacob's father, Wayne Heckford, has been there pushing him to do his best every passing lap as well.
"I love running track," Jacob Heckford said. "I played football and baseball but gave them up after coming out for track my sophomore year. I want to give God all the glory for being able to run."
After seeing Heckford display an uncanny speed on the baseball field, coaches asked him to come out and give track a go.
It has turned out to be a good decision for both Heckford and his two track teams. Heckford placed second in the 800-meter race at the Class 4A state championship meet hosted by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association at the LSU campus during his sophomore campaign.
Heckford then placed fourth this past May as a junior before getting into the peak performance.
For Peak Performance this year, Heckford placed third in the regional meet in Murfreesboro, Tenn., competing against some of the southern United States' top runners.
During the race, Heckford displayed a speed and determination that his coaches had not witnessed from him before as he completed the 800-meter distance race in just under two minutes.
His time of 1:57 was by far his best time of his short, yet productive career.
In addition to running competitively during the summer, Groll also now has Heckford on a strict workout schedule that has enhanced his times and his endurance on the track.
His training has intensified throughout the summer and Heckford could be in line to make a top eight finish at the National Championship meet this weekend.
"Jacob has worked extremely hard," Dennis Groll said. "I am proud to be able to work with him. His mother was one of the first recruits I brought to NLU and Jacob is doing real well for us at Peak Performance."
Jacob Heckford plans to continue his running career in college and could end up making laps at the same Brown Stadium where his mother was winning awards throughout a storied career on the local campus.
He will be one of 11 local parish track athletes representing the Peak Performance Club in North Carolina where thousands of youth will be competing for the USATF Junior Olympic Championships.
"It is exciting," Groll said. "This is the largest gathering of athletes in the United States."