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Hannah Hayduk enjoys the challenge of being a double athlete at St. Helens High School.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Hannah Hayduk, a senior at St. Helens High School, enjoys both soccer and cross country.Whether she's on the soccer pitch or running cross country, Hannah Hayduk gives it her all.

Currently, Hayduk is on the girls cross country team at St. Helens High School and getting ready for a new season.

"I did a lot of sports when I was little. Soccer was my main one. I played soccer forever," Hayduk, a senior this year, said. "I actually didn't start cross country until my freshman year. I didn't take it super-serious — I was just staying fit for soccer."

But when she tried cross country, she said simply, "I fell in love."

Hayduk was born in Aberdeen, Washington, and moved to St. Helens when she was about 2 years old, after her sister was born.

Growing up, Hayduk did not lack in energy.

"I'm super-high energy," she said. "I've always been high energy."

Hayduk explained her journey into track and field.

"I tried track in middle school … then I started more serious running," she said. "The long-distance stuff, I started probably eighth-grade year. That's when I started really taking running seriously."

A lot of practice is involved in cross country competition, as Hayduk noted.

"We have summer training," she said. "Mandatory practices tend to start in late August. We practice five to six days a week, trying to get about six runs in. We usually go to about one meet a week."

Hayduk continued, "We do go to some invitations, but the district is the most important, because that will give you a spot in state."

All of her hard work paid off for Hayduk recently. She finished second at the Northwest Oregon Conference Preview, at Blue Lake Park in Fairview.

Coach Naomi Reedy, said that at the Preview, "we have everybody race to mimic what our end of season district race might look like."

Reedy, who is the coach for both the boys and girls cross country teams at St. Helens High, noted the challenge Hayduk faces as a double fall sports athlete, playing for the St. Helens girls soccer team as well as running cross country.

"She has to really span both teams as best she can, as far as not just her contributions through her athleticism, but as a senior, being a leader for her teams," Reedy said.

Reedy continued, "She has done cross country for years. Some of those seasons haven't gone as well as she would have liked. She has had her fair share of injuries and learning how to persevere through that.

"I'm just really glad that this season has been getting off to a really strong start for her."

Playing on both the soccer and cross country teams, Hayduk has a time-consuming schedule.

"In her case, she may have a soccer game on Tuesday, a race for cross country on Wednesday, followed by another soccer game on Thursday," Reedy said. "She's a busy, busy girl."

Cross country differs from team sports like soccer.

"There's a lot more individual reward because it is solely based on how you perform with your body," Hayduk said. "In cross country, yes, you can win or lose as a team, but any performance is based off of your body and your training. It's rewarding."

While she stresses the individual nature of the sport, Hayduk does enjoy her teammates.

"I love all of my teammates," Hayduk said. "They're so fabulous and they're so supportive and helpful. We always come together and help each other out."

When it comes to predicting how her team will perform, Hayduk said, "It will be an exciting year. I don't know about placing. We know how fast we're going to be, but I'm just glad that we have five runners."

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