LAMAR, Mo. – When Pierce Heins crossed the finish line on Tuesday at the Big 8 Conference Championships something was missing.
“I didn’t notice until the second lap,” says head coach, Rodney Baldridge. “They ran as a pack. They were all packed together and I was watching their upper bodies and how their arms were moving, not at their feet.”
Heins, a sophomore at Lamar High School, was barefoot.
“We started the race and some people in front of me slowed down,” Heins says. “Someone stepped on my shoe from the back and it came off.”
Then, came a brief rush of panic.
“I was very nervous,” Heins says. “My adrenaline was through the roof. I didn’t know what to do.”
Heins remembered that his coach had prepared him and his teammates for this exact situation.
“Coach always says it’s better to run with no shoes than one shoe,” Heins says. “I thought about stopping and putting it back on, but the first thing that came to my mind was to take the other shoe off and continue running. I ran the entire race with no shoes on.”
This unexpected obstacle presented many challenges.
“There were walnuts and rocks on the path and people stepped on my feet. My socks got wet, so I didn’t have any traction and I was slipping all over the place,” Heins says. “My feet are very sore, but I think they’ll be fine.”
Faced with adversity, Heins persevered. He finished in 11th place at the conference championships.
“I felt very confident and pleased that I did well without any shoes on,” Heins says. “I learned when challenges present themselves you have to adapt and even if you are faced with challenges you can still do well.”
“He handled it very well,” Baldridge says. “A lot of kids would not have been able to handle that. It showed mental toughness.”
Now, Heins is preparing for the district tournament on October 30th.
“I hope to do well enough to qualify for state,” Heins says. “I also plan to set a personal record.”
“He’s got a lot of potential,” Baldridge says. “We hope he gets to state and if so, preforms well.”
Moving forward, Heins confirms, “I’ll be wearing shoes.”
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