The sophomore proved to be a natural at her new sport after making a successful debut with a fifth-place finish and a time of 19 minutes, 46.50 seconds at the Bob Blastow Early Bird meet in Douglasville Aug. 24.
Hayden is hardly new to running, having competed for the Raider track and field team last spring. She finished sixth in the 3,200-meter run and seventh in the 1,600 at the Region 7AAAAA meet.
It was a pleasant surprise,” Riverwood girls’ cross country coach Isaac Seals said. “Anna played softball last year and she came out for the track team last year and she had a certain degree of success. So, going into the first cross country race, we knew she would make a decent showing because she’s such a competitor. But it was a pleasant surprise that she did as well as she did in the race.”
It was the potential that Hayden showed in track last year that led Seals to convince Hayden to take up cross country.
“She did well in track,” he said. “We have a pretty tough region and Anna did well. Of course, she ran the [1,600] and the [3,200] and the thought was that she really likes to run distance and she would do better in cross country.”