4 sports, 2 postseasons and 1 goal for this tough and versatile Lincoln High athlete

Ryan Mahan
State Journal-Register
Lincoln's Becca Heitzig competes in the Class 2A girls state cross country championship Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Heitzig finished in 12th place in a time of 17:43.43.

LINCOLN — Becca Heitzig is ready for the postseason. Check that, she’s ready for postseasons. 

Lincoln’s four-sport junior is days away from Saturday’s Class 2A Taylorville cross country regional — held on the Christian County Fairgrounds. She’s looking for a repeat performance of her first-place finishes from a year ago in the Jacksonville Regional and the Decatur MacArthur Sectional. She placed 12th overall in the IHSA Class 2A state meet.  

On Tuesday, she will help lead the top-seeded Railsplitters (27-6) into the Class 3A Jacksonville Regional semifinals against either No. 7 Southeast or No. 10 Lanphier.  

It’s a whirlwind time for Heitzig and it doesn’t drop off too much after the fall seasons. She’s a guard on the girls basketball team. Come spring, she’s putting the running shoes on again for track and field season.  

Preseason's best:Here are 11 high school cross country runners to watch in the Springfield area for 2022

“It’s physically hard and it’s mentally hard, too,” Heitzig said. “That’s why my support system comes in handy and they just help me so much and the school has supported me.  

Lincoln's Becca Heitzig posses for a photo after she helped the Railsplitters beat Taylorville in a volleyball match on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.

“It's a toll on your body so I just have to make sure I get enough rest, am recovering well and take my easy days easy and my hard days hard.” 

For Heitzig, the fall is a balancing act. Sometimes, she has to miss a volleyball match and on other occasions, volleyball is the priority over cross country. Meanwhile, she continues to make straight As in her classes. 

“They say junior year is always pretty hard, but I have to take the extra step and stay up late studying,” she said of her academic work. 

Heitzig said her teammates and coaches support her wholeheartedly.  

“All my coaches — my volleyball coaches, my cross country coaches — and all my teammates have been so supportive with me,” Heitzig said and added that her volleyball teammates, “cheer me on when I go on runs and they fill in for me when I’m gone and I’m so appreciative of that.” 

Digging for success 

The Railers’ libero leads the team in digs with 309. The most impressive part about that is she’s only played 47 sets and has missed 12 matches due to conflicts with cross country.  

“She’s very determined and she always gives 110% every time,” Lincoln volleyball coach Emma Derry said. “I couldn’t ask for more from her.” 

Heitzig had 24 digs in Lincoln’s 16-25, 25-23, 25-22 Apollo Conference match with Taylorville on Tuesday. She added three kills, one ace and two assists. She’s also second on the team with 23 aces and has 27 assists. 

Preseason's best:Here are the top 16 volleyball players in the Springfield area

She’s had a long time to get to this level. 

“I started playing volleyball before running,” Heitzig said. “Running was a side thing until sixth-grade year but volleyball started with these girls when we were real young.” 

Heitzig said the only possible conflict — if everything goes right in both volleyball and cross country — is the volleyball supersectional in Chatham on Friday, Nov. 4. That’s the night before the scheduled state cross country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. And she thinks her volleyball squad has what it takes to get that far. 

“We’re all pretty competitive. Kloe Froebe has a fire in her, and everybody on the team wants to win,” Heitzig said. “When we’re on the volleyball court, we’re going to put everything out there.” 

Lincoln Community High School's Becca Heitzig passes the ball on her knees while bing surrounded by defenders during the game against Mahomet-Seymour High School Friday Feb. 25, 2022. [Thomas J. Turney/ The State Journal-Register]

Last run for the Heitzigs together 

Saturday’s regional cross country meet is the last postseason in the sport for Heitzig and her brother, senior Brenden Heitzig. Last year, both Heitzigs won the 3A regional in Jacksonville and this year they both won the Apollo Conference meet together (Becca Heitzig is a three-time winner of the conference meet). But Heitzig said she’s been too busy to be overly sentimental.  

“Honestly, the busyness kind of covers that up,” she said. “I don’t really want to be sad about it. It still doesn’t feel like he’s a senior — he seems pretty young to me. I know that he’ll be running in college and I’ll be running here so it’s good.” 

More than genes: How 2 Lincoln High siblings became elite runners

In the summer, Heitzig runs about 30 miles a week; in-season it drops to about 25 miles.  

Derry said Heitzig ran before Tuesday’s volleyball game “and you couldn’t even tell out there.” 

Heitzig is ready for the postseasons to begin.  

“Mentally I’m pretty prepared. I prepared all season doing both at the same time,” she said. “I’m stronger in running than I’ve ever been and I think our (volleyball) team has a few things we need to sharpen up but I think we’re ready, also. 

“Our regionals and sectionals this year have a lot of the best runners in the state so that’s kind of where we’ll just focus on qualifying and getting used to running against the people we’ll be running against at state.” 

Contact Ryan Mahan: 788-1546, ryan.mahan@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/RyanMahanSJR.