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Running toward Arizona

Carter Eckl
ceckl@recordcourier.com
Douglas High's Hayden Litka smiles after signing his Letter of Intent to run track and field at Park University next season. Pictured alongside Hayden is his sister Madison, left, his father Jeremy, middle, and mother Pamela, right.
Carter Eckl

Douglas High’s Hayden Litka won’t have any new personal records come easy after signing to run at Park University in Gilbert, Arizona Wednesday afternoon in front of the high school.

Litka will be trading in the high desert elevation of Northern Nevada for a warmer climate in Gilbert, which sits just outside of Phoenix.

Even as a sprinter, Litka says he enjoys the warm weather and seeing his work pay off Litka feels he’s already run through plenty of heat.

“It’s kind of like a dream come true to be able to be able to prove a bunch of people wrong and have what it takes to go to the next level,” said Litka.

Park University competes at the NAIA level in the California Pacific Conference with schools from California, Nevada and, of course, Arizona.

The sprinter ran a few events in high school, but said his favorite event is the 200 meter dash, helping the Tiger 4×200 meter relay team take first at the Sierra League Championships in 2019.

Even with a shortened senior season, Litka was able to make the most of his only meet in setting a new person record of 23.64 in the 200, according to Athletic.net.

Soon to be a Buccaneer, Litka said initial interest from the coaching staff at Park University and a chance to stay relatively close to home was the ideal recipe for a college track career.

“He really reached out to me and was really into me. It’s a little closer to home,” Litka said.

There wasn’t one moment in particular where the Tiger senior felt he could run in college, but rather an internal determination to make it happen.

“I always really thought I could make it. Like my mom says all the time, if I want it bad enough I’m always determined to go get it,” Litka said.

Along with running track, Litka also played football for Douglas, recording 16 total tackles this past season as a cornerback.

The sprinter hasn’t had a chance to visit his future home yet, but said virtual tours of the dorms and campus have given him a better idea of what’s next.

When Litka steps foot on campus he is hoping to eventually work his way toward a masters in kinesiology while minoring in psychology.