MISSOULA – Lauren Heggen isn’t shy about her dreams and aspirations.
“Oh, absolutely. I’m hoping to go Division I for track and field, that’s my goal,” Heggen said.
College is still three years away for Heggen, who concludes her sophomore year at Missoula Sentinel in early June. But there’s no reason to doubt her reaching those D-I dreams – it’s in her blood.
“My dad, Jed, was a wrestler. He wrestled at Yale University, and my mom, Jen, cheered for the (Montana Grizzlies), so they’re both really athletic. I have good genes, for sure,” she said. “My brother, Slade, he played Pac-12 baseball for the Oregon Ducks for three years and then transferred to Gonzaga. He’s a stud athlete, also. My sister, Taylor, ran cross country in high school and she’s a great athlete, as well.”
Following in those footsteps could be daunting for some, but Lauren Heggen isn’t your normal teenager. She looks at the success of her parents and siblings, hoping to not only emulate, but exceed their accomplishments.
The Heggens are doing all they can to help Lauren reach those goals.
“It’s pretty fun. My family is super supportive and I have to be very grateful for them, for sure,” Heggen said. “It’s awesome. My dad and my mom, they both help me a lot. They help me research, we watch film because it’s really important to figure out the mental side of it and to keep my goals in line for my future.”
Heggen speaks well beyond her age, surely matured from the experiences of her parents and siblings. She’s established herself as one of the young track stars in Montana, a near-lock for multiple state medals. She doesn’t mind the expectations building around her. In fact, she’s adding to them.
“I just have to keep it all in perspective. I have my individual goals, so keeping those in line is helping me a lot. I try not to focus on other people, just focus on myself because I just need to carry out what I need to do,” she said.
“I would definitely like to break 40 feet in triple jump. That’s the goal,” Heggen continued. “I would like to reach 18 in long jump and I would like to go sub-15 seconds in the 100 hurdles this year. Those would be my goals.”
Heggen has already completed the third of those goals, running a 14.86-second 100-meter hurdles race at the Western AA divisional, a first-place finish and the second-fastest time in Montana this spring. She’s within inches of her jumping goals, with a personal-best of 17 feet, 11 inches in the long jump and 39-07 in the triple.
The latter would break the all-class state record of 39-02, which can only be set at the state meet, and is the second-best triple jump in Montana history, according to the Montana High School Association.
Heggen says her Division I pedigree certainly plays a factor, but offers more credit to teammates Ashley and Audrey McElmurry, Sentinel’s junior and freshman sisters, for their competition and encouragement.
“It’s pretty consistent. We push each other a lot and it’s great to have (them) on the team, also, because we can push each other in practice and at meets. It’s a really positive environment for sure,” said Heggen. “We (also) have phenomenal coaches who are working with us on the mental side of things, too, which is helping us a lot. They’re super supportive and they make us reach for our goals. They make us aware of what we’re capable of.”
For Heggen, that’s likely state titles, all-class records and continuing the family’s run at the Division I level, where she already has a program in mind.
“My dream school would definitely be Stanford. I competed at their (Stanford Invitational) meet down there and I placed sixth (in the triple jump). That was really positive,” she recalled. “That’s definitely the dream program, academically and athletically. They’re just phenomenal and the campus is absolutely stunning.”
The family already owns ties to Yale, Oregon, Gonzaga and the University of Montana, and there’s no reason to doubt Stanford might be next on the list. Heggen still has two years, plus this weekend’s state meet, before she could don Stanford’s cardinal red and white. While she looks to complete the Division I tradition, only one question remains:
Being the youngest in the family, she has to be the best, right?
“Oh, yeah. No doubt. That’s funny,” laughed Heggen.