Heather Bates’ phone wasn’t exactly quiet before Oct. 5, but since that day it’s been ringing nonstop.
The Pine Creek senior cross country runner posted a personal best time of 17:18.80 at the Pat Amato Classic in Northglenn and has been receiving a lot of attention since.
“The weekend before that race I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, so I tried to not think as much and stay relaxed,” Bates said of her preparation for the Pat Amato Classic. “I just focused on myself and let my training do the talking; when I was close to the finish line and saw the time I was in shock.”
The time was the second-fastest run by any girl in the state so far this season, and it resulted in Bates getting plenty of attention from colleges.
Just this last weekend she took her first official visit to a school when she went to Vanderbilt. After her recent 5,000 meters time, there are sure to be many more visits in the future.
“In that particular race she didn’t take the lead right away and went the same pace from start to end,” said Pine Creek coach Max Oliver, who also coached Bates her freshman year before she transferred to Discovery Canyon. “She knows the game pretty well; her strategy depends on the course and the competition. She’s one of the fastest girls’ distance runners I’ve ever seen and she can close well and has a tremendous finish.”
Bates spent her sophomore and junior years at Discovery Canyon, but transferred back to Pine Creek this year because it made travel easier for her and was closer to her home.
While she won the 4A state title in the 3200m race last track and field season, Bates missed the last two state cross country meets because of injuries and can’t wait to get back as a senior and go for a title.
“I have been able to stay healthy and train hard this season and that’s made a big difference,” said Bates, who ran JV meets while sitting out the required half-season, per transfer rules. “I have to go to state concentrating on myself and not worrying about the other girls. I’m a really hard worker and have dealt with a lot of adversity.”
Oliver says that Bates – who ran 45-50 miles per week over the summer – has maintained a solid line of communication with him. His star runner is now able to take his advice as well as coach herself.
“I tell kids when they’re freshmen that when they’re a senior they will have to help me as much as I teach them," Oliver said. "We've had great communication, and I think she's learning how to race now better than when she was younger."