Heber Springs resident wins heptathlon national championship for Hendrix

By Tammy Keith Originally Published June 9, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 7, 2013 at 9:57 a.m.
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Hendrix College junior Elizabeth Krug, a Heber Springs resident, achieved one of her major goals in life by becoming a national champion — a feat she accomplished after winning the heptathlon at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championship. With the national title, Krug earned her fourth All-American award in three seasons, having placed seventh in the heptathlon as a freshman and sixth last season.

Hendrix student Elizabeth Krug of Heber Springs is just 21, but she’s already achieved one of two major goals for her life: becoming a national champion.

“The two goals I’ve had are to become a national champion and become a pediatrician; I’ve got one of those down,” she said.

Krug became a national champion by winning the heptathlon at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championship May 24 in La Crosse, Wis.

The seven events are 100-meter hurdles, shot put, 200-meter dash, 800-meter dash, high jump, long jump and javelin throw.

Her best is the 200-meter dash, she said.

“Most heptathletes usually have a couple of events they’re not really great at, and one they’re really good at ... . I’m decent at all of them,” she said.

That consistency paid off.

“It took five minutes to put it [the results] on the giant Jumbotron. I was so tired after the 800, I sort of collapsed on the turf and didn’t want to get up until they posted the results,” she said.

The results surprised her and her family members in attendance.

“My whole family thought the same thing, ‘Is that a typo?’ I was down by such a significant margin going into the last event,” she said.

She was in fourth place going into the 800-meter dash, so she kicked it into high gear.

In a post-event video interview, she said it felt “amazing.”

When officials asked who Krug wanted to present the trophy to her, she surprised them by saying, “My grandma.”

Her grandmother, Carol Schuller of Iowa, was in attendance, along with other family members.

“They frowned on that,” Krug said, laughing, and her Hendrix coach, Patrick MacDonald, presented it.

Krug, who has lived on the same street in Heber Springs all her life, participated in cross country, track and field, tennis and basketball all fours years of high school.

Her father, Kent, is a retired chiropractor in Heber Springs. Her mother, Karen, is a speech pathologist.

Krug she said she knew at an early age that she wanted to be a doctor.

In eighth grade, Krug picked pediatrics.

“I just remember one of the classes was a career class,” she said. The teacher asked students to decorate the front of their binders with their career choices and to “be specific.”

Krug picked pediatrician. “I think I spelled it wrong,” she said, laughing.

After graduating from Heber Springs High School, she chose Hendrix College in Conway because she’d heard good things about the pre-med program.

College athletics was secondary, but that impressed her, too.

“The track-and-field coach told me only positive things ... and they turned out to be true,” she said.

“He’s just a great track and field coach.”

MacDonald said Krug’s win is “a great moment for her and her family” and validation of what he’s been doing as coach of the program.

“It’s a huge deal,” he said. “It’s a small pond, to a certain extent, of people that care about it. It’s not a universal sort of thing, it’s not a world championship ... but to those of us wearing Warrior orange, it’s a very big deal.”]

He said Hendrix College officials have “99 percent certainty” that Krug’s win is the first athletic national championship for the institution.

“The Hall of Honor has 60 names, and nobody has national championship by their name,” MacDonald said.

“I feel like it’s been long overdue,” Krug said. “I’m really happy to win it for Hendrix. I couldn’t ask for a better school to win it for.”

She said although MacDonald is competitive, “I do like the setting where academics comes before athletics.”

As part of the Hendrix Odyssey program, Krug has been to Austria and Poland to do research on the Holocaust and presented research with the kinesiology department. This summer, she’ll go to Guatemala, where she’ll either work in a clinical setting with HIV patients or in an orphanage, “hanging out with kids all day.”

She also will practice with Heber Springs High School’s track-and-field team.

“They’re so great about it,” she said.

Balancing academics and athletics can be tough.

“It definitely has become challenging,” she said. “Whenever I get done with practice, and it’s a two-hour practice, and I got up at 7, I usually have to take a two-hour nap after practice” before she starts homework, she said.

“I stay up way too late, but I can’t really study until the meet is done. It’s definitely taken many, many years to balance the two where I’m keeping up my grade-point [average].”

“I’ve been doing heptathlons my whole entire college career,” she said.

Her championship in May was the fifth national heptathlon competition in which she has competed.

Krug placed high enough to be a Division III All-American in the heptathlon her freshman, sophomore and junior years, and an All-American in the pentathlon this year.

As a senior, she plans to compete in the spring for another national heptathlon championship.

“I’m also going to try to get a first place in the pentathlon [indoor championships], because I got fifth in it this year,” she said.

Make that three goals Krug has.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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