Name: Madison Lewellen
Personal bests: 5K: 19:32, 1600: 5:16, 800: 2:24
Academic interests: Exercise Science in pursuit of a Occupational Therapy Degree
Hobbies: Going to the beach, traveling, going to concerts
Favorite quote: Hebrews 12:1
How did you get involved in the sport?
Growing up, I always had a decent stamina that proved itself in little league sports, then it just bloomed from there and turned into track and cross country once I was old enough to be on the middle school track team.
What did you think of the Bojangles experience?
It's always been my favorite track meet, so much competition across the board and it is held at my favorite stadium to run at. Always so much fun to race against some of the fastest people on this side of the country.
What made you decide to sign with Southern Wesleyan?
After several months of searching, touring and talking to many coaches, I made the trip to SWU after a good friend signed there for baseball. It was the most heart-warming and amazing experiences I have ever had. I felt right at home as soon as I set foot on campus. I can not wait to get up there!
What other schools were your top choice?
Winthrop was my other top contender. Other schools I really looked into were Coker, Queens and Wingate.
What was the college visits experience like?
All of the coaches and teams I met were spectacular and can't be more grateful for the experiences I was able to have on each campus!
Do you have a specific motivation for the future?
I have had an amazing high school career, now I am even more ready to dig deeper into my talents and see what new goals I can accomplish in college. I am even more excited to start running indoor track, it will be a new experience for me.
What has been your biggest challenge in the sport?
My biggest challenge has also been my biggest learning experience. My sophomore year I lost a teammate after the Lower State Qualifying meet at Spring Valley. On their way back to Bluffton from Columbia a truck struck their vehicle with two of my teammates and one of their moms. Grace passed away that day and Emma was left with many injuries, we were all devastated. The accident in itself was a whirlwind of many emotions that affected the entire community for months to come. But, from this tragedy we are able to appreciate Grace's life and just how fragile and precious life can be. I dedicate each and every race to her and usually have her name written on my arm for good luck and sometimes even repeat her name out loud during races as motivation. Her parents and a coach of mine always remind me that she is always beside me when I race and that she will always get me to that finish line no matter what it takes. Losing a teammate in high school is always tough to go through, but with this collateral beauty of an event I have learned some of life's most important lessons and hardest pills to swallow.
What do you hope to achieve in the future upon graduation this June?
I hope to get to college in the fall and make the best of it and accomplish everything that I set my mind to. I want to start dropping times and have even better grades in the classroom, I know that my coaches and professors will help me achieve the goals that are set.
Walk us through an event and meet day for you (from pre until post-event).
Typical meet days look like early mornings and a good breakfast (eggs of course, nothing too heavy). I try and keep my mind distracted on the bus rides so I can keep the nerves and adrenaline down and don't get too worked up. I am the oldest girl on the team so I usually have to be the strong one that keeps everyone else in line while trying to handle my own nerves (I wouldn't have it any other way though). I make sure all my girls are all set and ready to go. We always do our 30-ish minute warm up together, roll each other out, write down a bible verse or "Grace" on our arms in sharpie, we make sure we are hydrated and usually even consume part of a honey stick for an extra boost of pure sugar, and then get out and compete to the fullest on the track or the race course. On the track we try and do a few quick strides, we always do our pinkie-finger-linking (a pre-race ritual that I learned back in 2014 that I made sure we continued), I usually even have my teammate, Emma Peluso, punch me in the arms a few times for a few laughs to get the jitters out. Afterwards, we help each other up, cheer each other on try and cool down and prepare for the next event.
What goes through your mind during an event at a meet and at practice?
I am constantly trying to keep calm and collected so that I don't worry too much about what I am about to run. I find it best that I don't focus too much on the specifics, just have a vague game plan on what splits I should aim to run. Luckily, I have coaches that always support me in what times I feel as if I need to hit, they leave it up to me to always over-achieve and do what I need to do. When it gets tough I remember who I run for and why I run. I run for the Man Upstairs, who gave me my talent and for the people that would give anything to run again. I never take running or racing for granted.
What did it mean to win the 3A 1600 at state and place second as a team?
It's been such a long road, five straight years of trying to get to this point. Thousands of miles, hundreds of workouts, trial and errors, many many PR's, 4 pairs of Saucony Kinvaras and one pair of spikes, and attending two different high schools have all prepared me for that race and that meet. Being the only senior in the 3A 1600 race is quite crazy, it shows how the competition is getting younger and faster each year. I had my doubts and times of worry, but I was constantly reminded that I have been doing this for years on end and have the strategy to pull out a championship race. I give all the girls props for running the times that they are already running as freshman and sophomores.
What do you enjoy the most about the May River team?
I could brag about this team on end, especially my girls. I love this team so much, they definitely are my second family and I would do anything for any of them. They have all looked up to me the last two years and as being their captain, I was able to bring them all under my wings and show them the ropes. We have had to go through lots of adversity being a brand new school, having to get used to a new coach (who turned out to be the BEST), and making a name for ourselves and who we are. Leaving them this year will be so hard, but I know that they will be left off very well.
What do you feel you have learned from your coaches, teammates and the sport?
My teammates and coaches have taught me so much. I owe it to them for who I am today, they have taught me how to always give anything my 110% and that even when you feel like there is nothing left to give, there is always a little more in you. But most importantly, they taught me brother and sisterhood and to never let anyone down by being selfish or greedy, everything we do is to better ourselves or each other.
What would like to see happen in the future in the sport?
I would love to see more support for the track and field/cross country community. Our sport is what every other sport dreads; running. It takes so much for us to achieve the goals that we earn and I wish there was more support from schools.
Do you see yourself coaching in the future?
I would love to come back down here at some point and maybe help assistant coach, I owe it to the program to give back what it gave me!
If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why?
I would travel endlessly, I would wish to see all the wonderful places and sights the world has to offer. All the different cultures, people, religions and food; it would be amazing.
What is your summer training plan?
Summer training plan to to keep a good load of base miles so that I can come in the Fall ready to go and start working on speed work and dropping my 5/6K times for cross country season.
What do you recommend to younger athletes?
I recommend giving it your all, all the time. I hope for the best always, and to remember that peaking in high school is not always the best idea if you're planning on running in college. Stay HEALTHY, PACE YOURSELF and HAVE FUN while you can!!
Bluffton runner remembers inspiring fifth-grader