Raquel Hefflin is not your average fifth-year. Hailing from Compton, Calif., Hefflin is the team captain of UC Riverside’s women’s cross-country team. She is already making huge waves in the running world, especially this summer.
Starting the season at the Nevada Classic, Hefflin set a course record with a time of 14:06 for the 4-kilometer run, marking her second career individual win with a hefty lead of 23 seconds. In the team’s second race at the 34th Annual UC Riverside Invitational, Hefflin was only eight seconds behind the winner and only two seconds behind her personal best for the 8-kilometer. The senior finished second in the 6-kilometer Stanford Invitational, trailing the winner by only eight seconds (20:39); however, she was able to break the record for the best time of a Highlander at a national-level meet.
Hefflin was not disappointed in her performance at the Stanford Invitational. Instead, she had a more optimistic outlook, mentioning that being that close only meant that she knew what she has to do to improve for next time.
Her three top finishes earned the Compton native a spot in the Sept. 15 issue of Sports Illustrated as one of six runner “Faces in the Crowd.” She even admitted that her father, not her, has a copy of the issue. In her five years of running cross-country in college, not to mention in high school as well, success has not gotten to Hefflin’s head and she remains a vibrant and diligent person and knows how to forge her path to where she wants to go.
With this being her final year, Hefflin said that there is “no room for error” when it comes to competing at every meet. She has a schedule that she follows to a T, which includes her morning workout, class, practice and an afternoon workout along with finding time to eat.
Hefflin has aspirations to attend graduate school for psychology to get the education she needs to become a counselor. Her plans are to take a year off once she graduates, but she plans on interning to gain proper experience. When asked if she had aspirations to head to the Olympics like UCR alumna Brenda Martinez, she mentioned it being a possibility. However, as of now, once track ends in the spring, she does plan on hanging up the shoes.
As team captain she also makes sure that she shares her experiences with the first-year athletes to push for them to have a great season overall. Though her accomplishments are from her hard work, Hefflin knows she is a part of a team, and her success is theirs as well. For the next few months, Hefflin plans to give the university everything she has to continue her record-breaking year.