A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2012 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For her 50 fellow Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Kari Heck
School: Washington (Sioux Falls, S.D.)
Athletic achievement: Heck won three individual state championships this spring and led the Warriors to the Class AA state title as a team. She won the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.52 seconds, the 200-meter dash in 25.19, the 400-meter dash in 55.91 and earned second place in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, six and one quarter inches. The 2010-11 Gatorade South Dakota Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Heck competed at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California where she earned 19th place in the 100 with a time of 12.39, 10th place in the 200 in 25.07 and third in the long jump (18 feet, eight inches). She also competed at June’s New Balance Outdoor National championships, where her third-place leap of 19 feet, three and one quarter inches ranked as the nation’s No. 22 long jump by a prep competitor at the time of her selection.
Academic excellence: Heck has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A devoted member of her church community, she has volunteered locally on behalf of an area nursing home. She also organized a track and field fundraiser called “Jump for Joy” to benefit and increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Kari Heck is possibly the finest track and field athlete in the history of South Dakota,” said Jim Jarovski, head coach at Lincoln (Sioux Falls, S.D.). “Her performances speak for themselves. She is passionate about the sport and she is an exceptionally hard worker. She is such a technician and she is fun to watch compete.”
THE FUTURE: Heck has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on an athletic scholarship at the University of Nebraska this fall.