Titans’ Killeen to Skip Her Senior Season
Heather Killeen, winner of three events in last year’s Big West Conference track championships, has decided to pass up a final season of track eligibility at Cal State Fullerton, Coach John Elders said Tuesday.
Killeen, one of 10 finalists last fall for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, has accepted a position as an English teacher at Harbor City Narbonne High School. She will start Monday.
“It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Killeen said Tuesday. “I know some people at Fullerton will be disappointed, but I feel I also have to be fair to myself.
“Teaching is something that’s very important to me, and when I was offered the opportunity to teach, I grabbed it. I’m really excited about it, and I want to move on with my life. They’ve talked about me possibly doing some coaching there later on, and I’m very interested in that too.”
Killeen had been enrolled in a master’s study program at the university in the fall after completing work on her undergraduate degree in May.
“This is obviously a real shock,” Elders said. “We had no idea she was considering anything like that until just recently. We were under the understanding that she was going to finish her running career this spring. Obviously, it has a negative effect on our women’s program, but we wish her the best.”
Killeen’s sweep of the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters in last year’s conference meet was the first time an athlete has won all three events in the Big West.
Killeen also won the 5,000 meters in the 1994 conference meet, took second in the 3,000 and was third in the 10,000.
Elders said there were no plans for her to run in all three this season. “We were going to run her in only two of them,” Elders said. “She had a great performance in the conference meet last year, but we felt afterward that it probably hurt her in getting ready for the nationals.”
She finished 11th in the 1995 NCAA Championships in the 10,000 meters.
Killeen, who graduated from Valencia High, also was Fullerton’s first female All-American in cross-country in 1994.
Killeen overcame illness and injury to become one of the school’s top female athletes. She injured her hip a week before the Big West cross-country meet in October, 1993, then a compensating injury developed in one of her knees when she tried to train through it.
In the 1994 cross-country meet at Logan, Utah, she became ill with a bronchial infection in the final stages of the race and finished fourth after taking a commanding lead as the favorite.
Killeen also became known for success academically. She was named an academic All-American in both track and cross-country. She graduated with high honors in May, and was a member of the dean’s list eight of nine semesters.
Killeen was selected as the university’s most outstanding senior last year.