The Preps : Girls’ Athlete of the Week : Valencia’s Killeen Off to the Races

Times Staff Writer

Throughout the summer, Heather Killeen set course for what she hoped would be another successful cross-country season.

Killeen, a sophomore at Valencia High School, ran 40 to 50 miles a week and attended two running camps and. She was second in the Orange League cross-country championships last season and hoped to win this season.

Killeen, The Times’ athlete of the week, got off to a running start toward achieving her plan at the Woodbridge Invitational Saturday, finishing second in her first meet of the season.

She took the lead in the race just before the first-mile marker of the three-mile course. But soon after, Killeen took a wrong turn. By the time she figured out her mistake, she was 40 yards off course. And when she retraced her steps, she had dropped to 15th place.


“I ran the course the year before,” Killeen said. “I don’t know (what happened). I was concentrating on my race. It gave me more determination to come back. It made me really angry.”

Killeen harnessed her anger and worked her way back through the pack, finishing second in 18 minutes 7 seconds, the top time of any Orange County runner. Karen Hecox of South Hills of West Covina won in 17:56, but Killeen figures she could have made it a more competitive finish if she hadn’t made the wrong turn.

When Hecox surged at the end of the race, Killeen said she was too tired to go with her.

Killeen isn’t accustomed to having problems following race courses. After all, she had been running 5- and 10-kilometer road races since she was 6.


“I ran with my older brothers,” she said. “I used to beg my parents to run.”

Killeen also ran in Amateur Athletic Union competition for a year when she was 14.

Nevertheless, she came to Valencia without realizing how talented she was.

“I didn’t really know what was considered a really good time,” she said, “but I knew I had a lot of potential.”


She showed good promise in track for a freshman, running bests of 5:18 for the mile and 11:24 for two miles.

“I set little goals,” she said. “There are people I want to be running with rather than (shooting for) time goals.”

To that end, Killeen is keeping an eye on her Orange League competition. And she’s determined to stay on course from now on.



Dana Armstrong of Villa Park was named the most valuable player of the Valencia tournament Saturday, leading the Spartans to a 17-15, 15-13, 7-15, 15-10 victory over Kennedy.

Laura Doering of Villa Park won the girls’ championship at the Las Vegas cross-country meet Saturday in a time of 16:04.

Jeanette Phylpa of University, a freshman, swept her singles matches, 6-0, 6-2, 6-0, in Thursday’s 12-6 loss to Mission Viejo.