By David Kavanagh | posted on June 28, 2019
WHEN Albany student Hayden Mills first learned he had been selected for the state cross-country team late last month, he thought he was getting in trouble.
On a day some time after the 14-year-old placed first representing Bethel Christian School at an interschool cross-country run, his mother Linda Mills called him over to the computer.
“She asked me to read something out to Dad in an email that she got and I was thinking straight away it was from the teachers saying I was in trouble,” Hayden said.
“Then I read it out and it said they had a spot for me in the state team.
“Dad was like good job and everything and they’ve really supported me through the whole thing.”
Instead of receiving a grounding, Hayden will be jetting to Wollongong in New South Wales in late August to compete at the School Sports 2019 Interstate Cross Country competition.
The four-day event will see young people between the ages of 10 and 19 on both male and female state teams from around the country race it out on long distance trails for the top honours.
“It’s exciting but I’m a bit nervous at the same time,” Hayden told the Weekender during a break from hockey training last Thursday.
“I’ve always dreamed of getting into the state side and then representing Western Australia. I want to see where that takes me and then go from there.”
Hayden has been getting up at 5:30am every Tuesday to train at an oval near North Road in preparation for the competition.
The year nine student said he challenged himself with long distance laps, interval training and hill training during his hour-and-a- half morning workouts.
He said he also played hockey with five different teams, including the 9/10s, under 18s, Men’s B, Men’s A in Mount Barker, and an Albany team that recently competed in Bunbury.
“Hockey and cross country complement each other a lot. Being able to be really fit and run gives you the upper hand like crazy, you get a crazy advantage,” he said.
“I don’t know what it is but I just like to run, it’s almost like when I’m running I feel like it’s made for me.”
Sport has always played an important role in the Mills household.
Hayden’s father coaches hockey during the week, while his six sisters and younger brother all play either netball, basketball or hockey.
Great Southern Grammar students Jana Kriek, Oliver Camins and Charlie Hick were also selected for the WA Cross Country team.
They will join Hayden on the track when the interstate competition kicks off on August 22.