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Of all places, the shower is where Rosemount two-sport standout Hayden Bills enjoyed the most memorable moments of his remarkable senior year.

Bills, a first-team All-Metro selection at defensive end and the cornerstone of the stingiest defense in Class 6A football, reveled in hearing Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" blasted from the waterproof speakers in the showers after each of the 12 Irish victories last fall.

His surroundings after winning both the shot put and discus throw at the Class 3A track and field state meet were much quieter but no less satisfying. Bills treated himself to a hot shower, a luxury he sacrificed much of the school year for ice baths and cold showers.

"I was told to do it by my dad and coaches," Bills said. "I'm not really 100 percent sure why. But it has something to do with staying twitchy and explosive."

Whether opposing linemen or heavy implements, Bills tossed everyone and everything out of his way throughout the 2022-23 school year. He is the Star Tribune All-Metro Sports Awards Male Athlete of the Year.

"As soon as I had a moment to look back on not just on my senior year but my entire career at Rosemount — it has been nothing less than a blessing from God," said Bills, who grew from a 5-9, 175-pound freshman to a hulking 6-4 and 250 pounds as a senior. "If you would have told me four or five years ago the athletic accomplishments that I would have just from this year, I wouldn't have believed you for a second. I have been so lucky to have people in my life like my dad and my coaches who put so much time into me and have believed in me sometimes even more than I believed in myself."

Bills paced the Rosemount defense in sacks (3½) and tackles for loss (10) while battling one of the state's toughest slates of large-school competition. On offense, Bills threw his frame into blocking from the tight end position, clearing holes for the Prep Bowl runner-up Irish to average 197.8 yards rushing per game and run for 32 touchdowns.

"I liked the thought that those other teams had to deal with me," Bills said, "and there was no hiding on offense, defense or special teams."

When track and field season came around, Bills again took on all comers — his peers and current record holders. He left them all in his wake. He smashed the state's 11-year-old shot put record with a mark of 66 feet, 8¾ inches. On the final throw of his prep career, Bills reset the 22-year-old discus throw record with a heave of 207 feet and became the greatest thrower in Minnesota high school history.

Watching meet officials react to the record discus throw in the sector resembled a burned youth baseball or softball outfielder turning and running upon realizing the depth of a driven ball. Back in the circle, Bills began celebrating before the discus even touched the ground. Not bad for a young man who fell ill the week before the state meet and lost almost 20 pounds.

Witnesses at St. Michael-Albertville marveled at the performance, knowing they had seen an accomplishment certain to last a long time. Irondale senior Tre'vion Mack, who finished third, called it the best thing he had seen all year.

"Almost all of the feedback that I received from everyone this whole year in track and field has been positive," Bills said. "The throwing community is a very positive and encouraging community, and it has been such a pleasure to be able to participate in this culture."

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Special celebration

The Star Tribune's sixth annual All-Metro Sports Awards show will be held June 28, and this year's event will be at Target Center. The winners of 10 special AMSA honors will be introduced, capping an evening of celebrating outstanding student-athletes and those who support them. The public is welcome to join the celebration, and tickets for the event are available at startribune.com/amsa.

More All-Metro Sports Awards coverage can be found at startribune.com/preps.