IONE — Cross-country and track and field are taking two small-town girls to the big city.
Ione’s Mackenzie Heideman and Sarah Knop recently signed letters of intent to compete at the college level.
Heideman, a distance runner, signed with Mt. Hood Community College, while Knop, a high jumper and middle distance runner, will compete at Pacific University in Forest Grove.
Heideman will run cross-country and track at Mt. Hood, which is offering her 10 school credits.
“They talked to me at a cross-county meet in the fall,” she said. “I looked into the school and made a visit.”
Portland is a far cry from Ione, but that was the appeal for Heideman.
“I’m ready to experience something different,” said Heideman, who plans to major in elementary education. “I was offered a spot on the Eastern Oregon (University) team, but it’s (La Grande) still a small town.”
Cross-country is Heideman’s favorite of the two sports.
“I ran a little track in middle school, and played volleyball my freshman year,” she said. “I was never very good at volleyball, so I gave cross-country a try my sophomore year. I like that I’m not running in circles around the track.”
Though she is pretty good at that as well.
She was sixth at the 1A state championships last year in the 3,000 with a personal best time of 11 minutes, 48.14 seconds. She also was ninth at state in the 1,500 with a personal best time of 5:32.02.
The Cardinals had their final team practice March 12. From there, the athletes are on their own.
“Being a distance runner, I can just go run,” Heideman said. “I don’t need anything special, but I do miss the team workouts.”
Forest Grove, which is 23 miles west of Portland, felt like home to Knop, who said the school is surrounded by fields.
“It’s my dream school,” said Knop, who also will run cross-country for the Boxers. “It was the only school I applied to. When I was accepted, I was screaming. I was so thrilled, my hard work had paid off. Then when the track thing came in, it was exciting.”
Being a NCAA Division III school, Pacific University cannot provide athletic scholarships, but Knop received a merit scholarship, and she is applying for everything she can in the way of other scholarships.
Knop was first introduced to Pacific by her aunt Nancy Phillips, who attended school there.
“I started looking into them, and I liked the community,” Knop said. “I went for a visit, and that was it.”
Knop plans to major in psychology and minor in business.
Knop placed third at the Special District 3 meet last year with a height of 4 feet, 8 inches, earning a trip to state. She no-heighted at state as her foot clipped the bar on her final attempt at opening height.
Knop also runs the 400 and 800, and is a member of the mile relay team. She also ran cross-country in the fall.
With the high school track season on hiatus, Knop can go for a run, but she cannot practice for high jump, nor can she access the school weight room. There is no public gym in Ione.
“It’s been hard to train,” she said.