Maja Wichhart began playing soccer in the first grade and never stopped.
Not content to limit herself to one sport, the Catonsville High rising junior also added volleyball, basketball and track and field to her repertoire.
And this summer, Wichhart is delving into her latest athletic endeavor — the heptathlon — that demands most of her attention.
In fact, she returned recently after competing in the heptathlon for two grueling days at the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships, at North Carolina A & T University, in Greensboro, NC.
The two-day series of events consists of the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-and-800-meter runs, long jump and javelin throw.
Wichhart placed 14th in the star-studded girls 15-16 age group with 1,391 points and set personal records in the shot put and 800, the final event.
Her 2:29.30 in the 800 was her best, by three seconds, outdoing her previous best while competing in the heptathlon at the USATF regionals.
“It was hard to do because I was really tired. I was happy with my time,” said Wichhart, who ran unattached, but trains with the Catonsville Cougars over the summer.
Cougar Coach Tony Christian was impressed with her performance in the 800, even though she knew she couldn’t reach her goal of scoring 4,000 points in the heptathlon.
“Maja was a little disappointed in her score, but she competed well and she was still focused at the end,” Christian noted. “She could’ve gone out and tanked the painful 800, but she beasted-up and ran a PR by three seconds.”
Tough workouts helped Wichhart post a sub-2:30 in the 800 and a finish under :26 in the 200.
She also threw her best shot put (28 feet, 9 inches) at the Junior Olympic national meet.
Even with such good performances, her finish did not compare favorably to the seventh-place spot she earned at nationals at Morgan State University last summer.
“I wanted to place again, but I didn’t perform as well as I wanted. I wasn’t happy with my place,” said Wichhart, who admitted the competition was very difficult.
The competition wasn’t the only obstacle while training, considering she doesn’t have a javelin coach, high jump coach or high jump mat.
“I have to go to meets and wing it in the high jump,” said Wichhart, whose standout performance wasn’t the only one this season.
At the Baltimore County championships in the spring, she scored all 14 points for the eighth-place Catonsville girls team.
The triple jump, which isn’t a heptathlon event, is her best event.
She tied for first (34 feet, 10 inches) with Milford Mill's Lynquette Hutchinson in the county final and won the event by soaring 36-feet at the Class 4A regional meet.
Catonsville High coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler said that Wichhart possesses outstanding potential as a heptathlete, despite the fact that the heptathlon is not part of either the indoor or outdoor prep track season in Maryland.
That makes things much more challenging for coach and athlete.
“We have to accomplish as much as we can, but it’s not easy,” said Gallagher-Mohler, noting Wichhart also plays spring club soccer.
Although heptathlon preparation will most likely be put on hold until next summer, Wichhart will stay busy during the school year once again playing volleyball and basketball for the Comets before another track season rolls around.
“I like the change of pace, because I’ve played a lot of sports all my life,” she said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun