Stratford Runner Jason Heusinger Looks Back at 2023 Season

MileSplit SC talks with Stratford senior distance runner Jason Heusinger before the 2023 Shrine Bowl Run.

"Jason has been a spotlight student-athlete at Stratford his entire career. He has been a consistent trainer and hard worker. His career at Stratford has seen numerous achievements over the years and being selected to the Shrine Bowl Run Team (Dec. 16) is a testament to his consistent work ethic. Jason will be missed next summer and fall by the entire team. We are looking forward to him accomplishing more goals in the spring and into his collegiate career." - Connor Roudabush, Stratford boys cross country coach

How do you look at the season as it concluded earlier this month?
Our team had a lot of struggles this season, but through injuries and other things we still ran our best and I know that my boys wanted to do the best for our school. I didn't run as well as I had hoped at state, but getting to see my best friend up on that stage representing our team was the best feeling ever. Even though it didn't go as well as I had hoped for me, this was by far the most fun season of cross country I have ever ran, and I am so glad to have the team that I do.

What does it mean to be named to the 2023 Shrine Bowl Run team?
I feel very proud of myself and I feel a little bit better knowing that there is one more run left in my high school season. I feel proud of myself because being able to run this event tells me that I have worked hard and accomplished something great in my high school career. I know the Shriners do amazing things and to be able to run for their cause feels great.

See the 2023 Shrine Bowl Run team

How and when did you get involved in running?
I started running track in eighth grade because I was pretty bad at soccer and some of my friends told me to run track with them. I then started cross country because I began to like track and I was getting pretty good at it.

How was summer training?
I feel like summer training really paid off and helped us build a good amount of strength to prepare for the season.

What were your key races this year?
This year my key races were definitely Wendy's, Coaches Classic, and our championship races. The races in the beginning of the season were still important though because I use those to kind of perfect my strategy and try different methods.

"The races in the beginning of the season were still important though because I use those to kind of perfect my strategy and try different methods." - Jason Heusinger

What is the kind of race strategy you prefer?
The strategy that I use the most and have found most effective is to get out at a moderate speed, go cruise control on the hills, push the downhills and then start picking people off the rest of the race. Getting out hard has never really been my style. Over the years I have changed my racing style and I think this is definitely what works for me.

Ed's Ramblings: The 2023 SCHSL State CC Championships

How do you adapt if it changes?
I adapt however I need. If everyone including me gets out hard, or I know I have to get out hard, then I start to race a little smarter. I won't start immediately picking people off and I might just let myself set into a good pace.

What are your plans after high school?
I plan to run in
college in either the Upstate of South Carolina area or somewhere in the Asheville, North Carolina Area.

What other hobbies do you have?
My main hobby is mountain biking. I ride with my friends and my family and mountain biking keeps me sane. It is one of the main reasons that I want to move to North Carolina because they have some of the best trails on the whole East Coast. I always make sure that I have something else to do other than run because if running was the only sport I do then I would definitely put too much pressure on myself.

2023 SCTCCCA Cross Country Coaches of the Year Named

What would you like to say to those that support you?
I would like to thank my coaches for supporting and dealing with my team and I for all 5 years, no matter how much we annoy them, I'd thank my team for being my absolute best friends and always being there, and my family for letting me continue and believing in me and supporting me.

Do you prefer track or cross country more? Why?
I definitely prefer cross country because it is so much more interesting, you don't have to be at a meet for 8 hours before you run, and I like traveling for cross meets.

Favorite course in S.C.?
My favorite course is definitely
Newberry due to how mentally challenging it is with all the hills. It is also a true 5K. The course really makes or breaks you and I love that. I just have a lot of good memories there.