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“Juice!” the fans yell as Hayden comes running around the corner of the final leg of the cross country race. He is coming to the end and pure agony is written on his face. He is spent, and everything he had worked for has come down to this. Even though he is struggling through pain he pushes and drives himself to keep going. He shifts into another gear and steams toward the finish. Not in first, second, or third place, but fourth. Not that good right? Wrong. There are 122 runners and fourth is a great achievement.
Hayden hasn’t always been this competitive and talented a runner. He began athletics by playing a sport on the opposite end of the spectrum, football. Juice played cornerback in middle school all the way up to his sophomore year in high school. Football was his first interest in sports and he always worked hard at it even wasn’t the most gifted player out there.
“I really enjoyed playing football,” said Hayden.
“I just wasn’t very good at it,” he added
Even though Hayden wasn’t the best football player, he always looked the part, wearing an Oakley visor on his helmet, Nike mids, and Nike Pro Speed cleats.
“That was always fun to me,” he said with a smile.
“I definitely liked to look good.”
However, looking good wasn’t enough to keep him playing.
“I noticed my PT (playing time) was beginning to drop during my sophomore year and standing on the sidelines kind of sucked,” explained Hayden. Football was beginning to be too much work for not enough results and Hayden was looking for an alternative sport that he could compete in. Hayden already committed himself to being a good 800 runner in track and he knew he was a good distance runner. He always thought about running cross country but knew it would interfere with football. But since things had changed and football wasn’t the same to him he decided to talk to Coach Jorgensen about his decision.
“I went in to the talk thinking that he (Coach Jorgensen) would be upset with my decision,” said Hayden. “It was actually the opposite. He thought it was a good idea and encouraged me to do so because he thought I was a very good runner.”
Hayden went on to saying how he knew that he had made the right decision after that conversation. “It goes to show what kind of guy Coach is,” Hayden added.
Hayden is also good friends with Coach Jorgensen’s son, Steven and when Steven was asked about Hayden he said,
“Hayden is a unique kid and a fun person to hang out with.”
“He wasn’t really the best at football but he is an excellent runner and it’s good to see him succeed,” said Steven.
Hayden’s running is supported by many people and crossing over from football was a decision that has opened other opportunities for him.
“I’m getting some looks from some colleges to run and if I would have stayed in football this never would have happened.”
Hayden is getting looked at to run for some Division II and III colleges including St. Norbert’s a place he is interested in attending.
“It seems like a nice school,” said Hayden “I wouldn’t mind going there.”
So far Hayden’s senior season of cross country has been going extremely well, he is the top runner in the school and has a top time 16:30, 12 seconds better then the next best runner.
“It’s good to see the results showing,” said Hayden who hasn’t stopped training in the last couple of years.
“I hope to make it to state and maybe place that would be awesome!” he added with wide eyes.
Hopefully Hayden will make it to state, if not it doesn’t take away from how well he has done this year. Juice has dealt with adversity and kept on moving forward through it all. He made a decision to run cross country and it seems to be the right one.