Poetry in motion: a runner’s legacy

You can see her coming around the curve of the track and into view. Approaching the gun lap of her astonishing high school running career, Tri-Valley’s Heather Iatauro sizes up the field of tasks in front of her and strides along with measured steps. True to form, she is mindful of how far and fast she’s come, and just what remains to be done to achieve her goals.

Though she is currently nursing tendonitis in her toe, Iatauro wants sub-6:30 in the steeplechase, under 4:50 in the mile, under 9:40 in the 3000 and under 10:19.3 in the two-mile. The latter two times are records held by Kate Landau, a graduate of Tri-Valley.

The lady in red is an All-American national steeplechase champion, an All-American cross country runner and the holder of the past indoor track season’s fastest 1000-meter time in the nation, a second place finisher in the Millrose Mile.

As she moves on apace, she continues to create a legacy that will long be remembered.

That legacy is not all about her running exploits. Tri-Valley recently named her valedictorian of the class of 2004, and she is spending her last year of high school at Sullivan County Community College.

“It’s a chance to get used to the college schedule and take advanced math and physics courses,” Iatauro said. She will major in aerospace engineering at Princeton University and perhaps move on to law. Peter Farrell will be her coach at Princeton. He has been keeping a close eye on her running progress.

A talented all-county flutist, she has soloed in a level six performance of Telemann’s Suite in A Minor at the all-state concert. She earned a depth of knowledge high honors diploma that required a Power Point presentation to the school board and administration on the history of the flute, a solo concert performance and a 90-percent grade or better on every regents exam.

Her parents and coaches, Joe and Missy, will soon witness the conclusion of Heather’s celebrated pre-college running career.

“She’s a great kid,” says Missy. “It’s going to be tough not having her here.”

Joe adds, “It will be like going through withdrawal.”

Heather’s brother Joe, also a fine high school runner in his day, graduates from North Carolina State this month.

The Iatauros still recall four-year old Heather at high school track practices, running under the hurdles while former Tri-Valley standout Tammy Roosa would leap over them. So began the girl’s unquenchable desire to run and compete. Her parents nurtured and supported her gift, overseeing hours of practice, monitoring her progress in innumerable races and crisscrossing the nation to give her a chance to run with the best.

By age seven, she had qualified for her first AAU Junior National Championship race. In fifth and sixth grade, she ran in the nationals and Metro Athletic Congress indoor meets at the Armory Track and Field Center, at Pratt and at Downings Stadium on Randalls Island. During outdoor season she ran in the U.S. Track and Field (USTF) Youth Nationals.

Bubbly and self-described as “a bit ditzy,” Iatauro is charming and friendly, but on the track she’s a relentless competitor. “I’m no longer intimidated by who’s running. I just go out and do what I need to do,” she said.

Winning the New York State Intersectional Relay championship in seventh grade was her opening salvo of a victory-studded career. Named Athlete of the Meet this February at the NYS indoor championships after winning the 1000 and 1500-meter races, Iatauro capped off a tremendous indoor season that included a second place in the Millrose Mile at Madison Square Garden and a win in the New Balance Games mile.

Her favorite race is the steeplechase, which features running and leaping over 23 barriers, including five twelve-foot water barriers.

“I love it. It’s not about who has the most aerobic talent. You have to be agile. It’s the great equalizer.”

This week’s youth in focus will continue to sail over barriers both on the track and off. She’s got drive, perseverance and passion—winning qualities that will surely make her a champion in every venue of her life.

Iataurography

2003-04 indoor track

Athlete of the Meet at NYS Championships

NYS Federation champion in 1000- and 1500-meter

Fastest national indoor 1000 meter (2:50.33)

National Scholastic Meet: Third in the mile

Millrose Games: Second in the mile

New Balance Games: First in the mile

2003 cross-country

NYS Class D State Champion

Six-time Section Nine Champion

Stanford Invitational Champion

All-American for the past six years

Summer 2003

Empire State Games 5000-meter Champion

2003 outdoor track

National Scholastic 2000-meter Steeplechase National Champion (6:54.1)

USATF steeplechase: Fourth place (included college freshmen)

NYS 2000-meter Steeplechase Champion

2002 cross-country

AAU Intermediate 5000-meter National Champion

2002 outdoor

USATF 3000-meters (included college freshmen): ninth place (9:59 lifetime best)

NYS 2000-meter steeplechase champion

2001 outdoor

NYS 2000-meter steeplechase champion

USATF Junior nationals: second place in steeplechase

All-American

2000 cross-country

NYS Class D State Champion

2000 indoor track

NYS eighth grade mile record 5:11.44 at Eastern States (second place)

1999 indoor track

NYS Intersectional Relay State Champion

TRR photos by Richard A. Ross
Heather Iatauro (Click for larger version)
(Click for larger version)