- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) - Hesston senior Mikala Heddin would be a strong competitor in this year’s Class 3A cross country state championships but her religious beliefs will stop her from running in this weekend’s regional qualifying races.

Heddin, who has won three of her five races this season with a fastest time in the 4-kilometer is 15 minutes, 2 seconds, won’t compete at this Saturday’s regional races because her family’s religious beliefs prohibit them from working on Saturday or causing other people to work, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1z3MbUp ).

“I was really disappointed when I first found out I wasn’t going to be able to run at state because I really like the big races,” Heddin said. “But as time has gone on, I began to understand and now I get why we do it. The disappointment is not as bad anymore.”

Heddin ran at the state meet in her first two seasons, finishing second in Class 4A as a freshman and third as a sophomore.

After her sophomore season, Heddin’s family decided to keep the Sabbath. They do not consider their religion either Christian or Jewish, said Fran Heddin, Mikala’s mother, but read the entire Bible and follow it as they can interpret it. That includes believing the Fourth Commandment prohibits work on the Sabbath.

“Even if Mikala didn’t consider running work, there are people that have to get up and put on the meet and are paid to run the meet,” Fran Heddin said. “That would be causing people to work. It’s difficult sometimes because I see her ability, but if the Bible says don’t do this, then we follow it.”

Mikala said she was initially shy about explaining her beliefs but she is more confident now and believes most people respect her decision.

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