If there was an award for being the busiest athlete in the school, rising Catonsville High senior Maja Wichhart would be a lock to win it.
During the school year, Wichhart plays volleyball, basketball and was the top point-getter for the Comets outdoor track team.
But when school is out, her track season becomes even more intense as she trains for the heptathlon.
Late last month, her summer season with the Catonsville Cougars track club culminated with her sixth-place finish in the heptathlon at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics under-17 age group at Turner Stadium in Humble, Texas.
She qualified for nationals by taking second place in a regional meet in North Carolina.
The two-day event consists of the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-and-800-meter runs, long jump and javelin throw.
Wichhart scored 4,370 total points, but she had loftier goals.
“I wanted to get 4,400 points, but I was real excited because I saw improvements in a lot of events,” Wichhart said.
Her highest event finish was the 200 meters when she clocked a time of 25:69 and placed third among 22 competitors.
“The 200 helped a lot,” Wichhart said. “I didn’t expect to do that well.”
Catonsville Cougars assistant coach Tony Christian thinks her time in the 200 is the third fastest among Catonsville High athletes following Kellie Christian and Zoey Whittington who both produced sub-25 second 200 meter runs.
Christian graduated from Georgia Tech in May of 2014 and Whittington is entering her senior season running for the University of Pittsburgh.
Wichhart’s 200 time at junior Olympic nationals would have been good enough for fourth place among an elite Baltimore County field of sprinters at the outdoor championships in the spring, but Wichhart didn’t compete in the 200 as she was focused on competing in the triple jump and long jump in the late May meet.
She won the triple jump at the county meet for her third county title in a row.
She followed that by taking third in the triple jump and long jump and second in the 100 hurdles at the regionals.
He junior season concluded at the state championships where she was third in triple jump and fourth in the 100 hurdles at Morgan State University.
Once the spring season ended she started working toward qualifying for the national junior Olympics.
Christian, who oversees her workouts along with Cougars head coach Steve Holliday and assistant Giselle Providence, sees Wichart’s work ethic first hand during the summer.
Training for the 200 and the 800 meters are toughest after not running them in the spring.
“The workouts she did to “catch up” were brutal,” Christian said.
Unlike many runners, she finds it hard to improve without practicing against tough competition.
Fortunately, Western Tech’s Morgan Prioleau did some training with her, but she often had to race against only herself and the clock.
“Running slow, steady workouts by yourself is tough enough,” Christian said. “But fast interval workouts alone is even tougher.”
Christian noted she hadn’t done much hard running since basketball season and training for the 200 and 800 is difficult because they are totally different races.
“I’d give her workouts I didn’t think she could do.....and then she’d do them...a beast,” Christian said.
At nationals, the time of 2:28.27 placed her sixth in the 800 meters.
“Right after the states I started training for the 800 because that takes a lot of time,” Wichhart said.
She also found a friend who helped her improve her javelin throw and it paid off with a toss of 95-feet at nationals.
Her 32-foot, 1 inch throw in shot put was fourth among entries.
Wichhart, who started competing in track at age 9, also competed in nationals last year when she was 14th in the 15-16 age group.
The previous year she placed seventh in the national junior Olympics.
She felt this summer’s showing could have been even better if she had scored higher in long jump where she is capable of jumping 17-feet.
“That was my worst jump of the year,” said Wichhart, whose leap of 14-feet, 10 3/4 was 20th among competitors.
She was also tied for 12th in high jump (4-11) and was tied for eighth in the 100 hurdles (15.32).