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Heinz made positive impact on those around her

IPSWICH – She was a team player in every sense of the term.

Former Ipswich standout sprinter Angela Heinz passed away from an accident suffered while out rock climbing in the Black Hills last weekend. She was 24 years old.

Somehow, it was fitting that her final activity came while she was out doing something she loved.

“She was just so excited for life and just loved to enjoy every second of it,” said Ipswich track and field coach Todd Thorson. “She always lived in the now and not in the past.”

Heinz always put the team first and willing to do whatever was asked, even if it meant not running her usual sprint races.

Thorson recalled a time when the team was headed to the Howard Wood Dakota Relays in Sioux Falls. The team’s 3,200-meter relay squad was already down a runner and when another individual got sick, it meant that one of the team members would be unable to compete because the team didn’t have enough runners. Heinz volunteered, even though she was not accustomed to running 800-meters. She not only filled in, she anchored the team to a first place finish.

Thorson said that Heinz never backed down from a challenge and always want to do her part.

“I’ve had very few athletes that basically came up to me before meets and say, ‘I only have one request. I don’t care what I run, but I want to do four events every track meet.’ That really just sticks out in my mind, her willingness to just compete,” Thorson said. “She just loved that part of it.”

Ipswich’s Angela Heinz breaks from the blocks at the start of a relay at the 2012 South Dakota State High School Track Meet in Rapid City. photo by john davis taken 5/26/2012

Because of her willingness to compete in a variety of events, matched with a talent that allowed her to succeed in them, Heinz ended up with the maximum amount of 24 medals during six years of competing at the state track and field meet. It’s believed that Heinz is the only individual in state history to accomplish that feat.

She was a four-time state place winner in both the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. She along with Maci Gauer, Alexis Lloyd and Macy Heinz set a State B record in the 1,600-meter relay in 2012 which still stands today.

While Heinz holds numerous school records in Ipswich, it’s her personality that will be remembered the most.

“She just made everybody happy,” Thorson said.

Thorson tries to impart life-long lessons to his athletes and help them to keep things in perspective. Heinz provided words of wisdom as well.

“She taught me a lot, too,” Thorson said. “She always would say, ‘Coach Thorson you need to enjoy this more.'”

Services for Heinz will take place this morning in Ipswich.

“She’ll be missed. That’s for sure,” Thorson said. “Heaven will be in a lot better mood up there, because they have somebody who always had a smile on her face. She’s definitely making people happy up there, I guarantee you that.”

While her records may some day be broken, nothing will ever be able to erase the pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm that Heinz brought to those fortunate enough to be around her every single day.

“She is truly an all-time great,” Thorson said, “not just an all-time great athlete, but an all-time great human being.”

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