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Boys cross country: Centaurus’ Heins is the Daily Camera runner of the year

Centaurus cross country runner Max Heins poses for a portrait in Lafayette on Nov. 28. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
Centaurus cross country runner Max Heins poses for a portrait in Lafayette on Nov. 28. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Max Heins knew his Centaurus boys team was solid this year, but it didn’t quite come to fruition the way he had expected.

The senior certainly didn’t think the Warriors would earn the team runner-up title during their first year in Class 5A cross country.

“We were psyched. We had no idea,” Heins recalled. “We really didn’t think we were — so much so, one of our friends who was hanging around was like, ‘Oh, I think you guys got state.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, I don’t think that’s right. The results might not be fully out yet.’ Finally, our coach came up with the results like, ‘Guys, you got state.’ Our friend Jesse, who was our, like, sixth or seventh man, I think, I swear he jumped eight feet in the air. It was awesome. We were ecstatic.”

The team, of course, couldn’t have done it without Heins, their leading man, who placed 13th individually with a time of 16:06.80. Earlier in the season, he won the Northwest Open Space 5K PR Challenge and the Arvada West Durden Invitational, placed second at the Pat Patten Invitational and the NCAC League Championship, and finished third at Centaurus’ own Bernie Gay Invitational.

Centaurus' Max Heins runs the course ...
Alissa Noe/
Centaurus’ Max Heins runs the course at Viele Lake during Boulder High’s annual Pat Patten Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

His dominant season, as well as his efforts in leading the Warriors to their unexpected hardware, earned Heins the Daily Camera runner of the year.

He credits his and the team’s success to their coach, Devin Rourke, and course partner Jake Schwarting — who finished exactly 10 seconds behind him at 21st — but does his part in making sure all of his teammates stay academically eligible and that they’re enjoying themselves in practices and in competition.

“I keep the cool. I keep the chill,” Heins said. “It just kind of carries itself along because everyone is motivated. I think for everyone just being part of a team, which is really fun — and we have a lot of fun here — is enough to keep each individual on track.”

Now that Heins’ high school career has come to a close, he’s looking toward a future teeming with possibilities. Although he hasn’t quite decided where he’ll run, there are plenty of offers on the table.

He hopes he’ll get an offer from an art school to further pursue his academic endeavors, but, in the meantime, will just enjoy going out for his usual runs. After all, he’s not ready to give up on the sport he fell in love with in fifth grade, when he won his first race.

“I’m sure he’ll go on to incredible success. It’s been a pleasure coaching him these past four years and I’m sure he’ll be a great asset to whatever team or endeavor he chooses next,” Rourke said. “I would say it’s just his calm confidence. He’s got this sort of attitude that he can take on the world and nobody would know. He’s calm and humble and extremely talented.”