When a friend of theirs introduced them to the Pope cross country team their freshman year, twin brothers Cole and KC Heron joined to stay in shape for basketball and baseball.
Both brothers have a competitive streak — particularly KC — and they wanted to see how well they could do.
Little did they know they would be so good at running long distances that the University of Georgia would be acquiring their services.
“I felt like my competitiveness drew me to run more,” KC said. “I always wanted to be faster when I started running. I wanted to be the best that I could. We had good role models my freshmen and sophomore years (at Pope) who helped us put in the extra work.”
Running at Georgia would also allow the Herons to finish some unfinished business. Both were in the middle of track and field season when the spring sports calendar came to an end due to the coronavirus pandemic.
What ended up being their final track meet of the season came when the duo led Pope to victory in the Wolverine Invitational. Cole won the 1,600-meter run in a time of 4 minutes, 30.65 seconds, and he broke 2 minutes in the 800 with a third-place finish of 1:59.02. KC was second in the 3,200 at 10:10.65.
“Initially, I didn’t think it was going to be over,” Cole said. “I thought we would still have state and region. The more days we were out, I was like, ‘Dang. We probably won’t have a chance.’”
Although the season ended prematurely, the Herons could not have asked for much more in their cross country and track careers. Each earned eight varsity letters — four in each sport.
In cross country, the Herons helped lead Pope to three region titles, three state runner-up finishes and the Class AAAAAA state title in 2018.
Although they came up short of helping Pope defending its cross country title in the fall, a couple of highlights for the Herons included both breaking 16 minutes at the Wingfoot Invitational, and Cole running a personal-record time of 15:10.68 at the Coach Wood Invitational, good enough for a sixth-place finish. Both went on to qualify for the Foot Locker South Regional and shared Pope’s Scholar Athlete Award.
High points of last year’s state track meet included KC finishing third and Cole sixth in the 1,600. The brothers were also on the 3,200 relay that was ranked No. 1 in the state and set a school record of 7:56.08 at the McEachern Invitational.
The Herons are both learning toward majoring in business, and are focused at succeeding at the next level when they head to Georgia in the fall.
“I’m super excited,” KC said. “I love the team, and (distance) coach (Patrick Cunniff) seems like a great guy. I can learn a lot from him and put up some fast times.”