Jayden Padgham, Tullie Rowe and Andy Buchanan prepare to take on the nation’s best. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

THERE aren’t many budding junior athletes who can say they are coached by a current Australian champion.

There are even fewer who will travel alongside that person to make their representative debut.

But in the case of Jayden Padgham and Tullie Rowe, they’ll be making the trip to the National Cross Country Championship this weekend alongside their coach and defending open-age champion Andy Buchanan.

Jayden is in year seven and Tullie in year nine at Bendigo South East College, and both are coached by Buchanan as part of the school’s Athlete Development Program.

They both recorded strong results at the state titles at Bundoora earlier this year to qualify for the national titles.

Buchanan said the duo are promising athletes in their own right.

“They’ve both improved a lot since they started and work really hard at their craft,” he said.

“I definitely wish I had the same access to training that they do at the same age and they make sure they use it all to their advantage.”

Neither of the younger duo has raced at the level before, Jayden saying that he will wait to see how the race plays out before deciding on a strategy, while Tullie has a top-10 finish in her sights.

For Buchanan it is a different prospect entirely as he seeks to defend his title.

“Being from Bendigo usually I go under the radar a bit so it will be interesting to see how it plays out this year,” he said.

“My form’s good, I wasn’t where I wanted to be earlier in the year but my last couple of sessions have been good so I’m looking forward to it.”

The trio flies to Queensland on Friday for Saturday’s national titles on the Sunshine Coast.