Honors for Bianco, Heiman Ely senior standouts named Arrowhead Athletes of the Year

by Tom Coombe -

Two elite seniors gave Ely a clean sweep of the Arrowhead Conference Athlete of the Year Awards.
State skiing champion and multi-sport standout Erin Bianco was named the girls winner while football and track sensation Josh Heiman was selected among the boys.
They’ve excelled individually and on teams, in regular and postseason settings, and across the spectrum of sports during prep careers that date back to their middle-school years.
Bianco is a six-time state qualifier in Nordic skiing while Heiman first advanced to state in the triple jump as an eighth-grader.
Together, they’ve earned more than 30 varsity letters, captured numerous state berths and been part of Ely championship teams in mulitple sports and seasons.
Bianco reached the pinnacle this winter, winning the state, single-class individual championship in Nordic skiing.
After an ‘off” section meet, she rebounded to win the individual state title and her performance was critical to the Ely team winning the overall state girls skiing championship.
“She is a calm and cool competitor, at least on the outside and most importantly she is primarily motivated by helping her team succeed,” said Paula Anderson, Ely’s Nordic skiing coach. “Watching her grow from a little seventh-grader at the state meet for the first time to the Minnesota state champion and leader of the state championship team has been a lot of fun!”
The state title capped off a magnificent six years on the snow.
She was as six-time state meet qualifier and has earned All-State status her freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years.
Bianco is a previous state qualifier in track, both as an individual and on a four-by-800 relay, and she’ll be part of a four-by-800 relay that has a very good chance of advancing from the June 1 section meet.
In cross country, Bianco was part of a state-qualifying team in both her junior and senior seasons. This year, she placed 41st overall in the Class A state cross country meet and was 49th in the state as a junior.
No matter the season, Heiman excelled in an Ely uniform.
He is a four-time qualifier in the state track meet and is favored to advance in one or more events out of the Section 7A competition.
Heiman’s specialty is the triple jump. He has qualified for state in the event every year since his eighth-grade year, finishing fourth in the state in the Class A meet his sophomore and junior seasons.
“He is truly an elite athlete and has been performing at a high level since eighth grade,” said Ely boys track coach Will Helms.
Heiman is the 7A favorite in the triple jump and perhaps the long jump and 100 this spring, and he has had three or four firsts in each track meet he has participated in this year. He is the school record holder in the triple jump, long jump and 100 meters.
Bound for West Point, where he will compete in track at the NCAA Division I level or Army, Heiman has the potential to take his abilities to another realm, according to Helms.
“He certainly is up for the challenge,” said Helms. “He never really trained under ideal conditions weather -wise and facility-wise. With specialized instruction I think he is just going to flourish.
Heiman is also two-time All District Player in football and was named the District Back of the Year his junior and senior seasons. The last two years, Josh has run for nearly 3,500 yards and 50 touchdowns and has helped the Timberwolves to state tournament appearances in both years, including a state semifinal appearance his junior year.
Heiman was a two-year starter in boys basketball and averaged over 12 points per game his junior year, but his senior season was wiped out by an ankle injury.