Salute to Seniors: Hartsville's Madilyn Johnson

Hartsville's Madilyn Johnson shares her perspectives after her high school running career.

Name: Madilyn Johnson
High School: Hartsville High School
Event PRs
800m: 2:30.26
400m: 1:03.82
Hobbies: backpacking, kayaking, reading, baking, cooking, painting

What was your most memorable race/competition?
Every race I ran this past season seems especially memorable because I learned so much about racing at every meet. However, the Island Invitational at Waccamaw High School stands out to me because there was a lot of competition at that meet. It was only my third time running the 800, and I took second place and proved to myself that I could be a competitor despite being boxed in for the first lap. I had proved to myself earlier in the season that I could push myself when I was out in front by myself, and the Island Invitational taught me how to race aggressively and fight for a win.

Out of all your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
I am most proud of earning the National Beta Club Scholarship for $10,000. The scholarship is given to students who represent the four qualities of Beta Club members: achievement, character, leadership, and service. I appreciated my teachers and coaches recognizing and encouraging my efforts, but it was extremely meaningful to be recognized at the national level for all of my hard work to make an impact on my community.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I would not change anything about my athletic career in high school. All of my coaches, teammates, workouts, and races have shaped who I am today. I am really grateful for the discipline, work ethic, humility, and friendships this sport has given me, and I would not change anything.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
The most difficult obstacle I have faced is myself. I was always a fairly decent runner and worked really hard, but I did not have the right mentality to be a great runner. I tried almost every sprinting event from 100m hurdles to the 400m dash before switching to the 800m dash this past season. I learned really quickly that there is a lot of time to doubt yourself in two laps, but your race is over if you do. I had to learn to trust my training and my ability to finish a race no matter what happened in the first lap.

What will you miss the most?
My friend TK would give a speech at the end of practice about working hard and improving every day. At the end of the speech, we would huddle and shout "Family" on the count of three. My track team truly is my second family, and I will miss them immensely.

Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
First of all, do not be afraid to try new events. It may take a long time to find your niche in track, but there is an event for everyone. As you develop as an athlete, you may need to switch to a different event. Listen to your coaches and trust their advice. They are on your side, and they want you to succeed. Second, take your easy days easy. I know it is tempting to want to run hard, fast workouts every day, but you will not accomplish anything except tearing your body apart. You must recover in order to improve.

How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals?
My coaches have entrusted me with the responsibility of leading workouts and given me the freedom to become a leader on the team by encouraging younger athletes and sharing wisdom I have learned over the years. This helped me realize that I love to share knowledge with people, and I am really good at mentoring others. This realization has been extremely impactful on my approach to life and choosing what to do with my time and resources.

What kind of impact did your family have on your time as a high school student-athlete?
My family has always been extremely supportive of me from early Saturday meets to late nights during the week. Even when I ran the first event and the last event of the track meet, they were always there to support me.

What are your college or post-high school plans?
In the fall, I will be attending Baylor University to study Neuroscience in the Honors College. After college, I plan to attend medical school to become a neurologist.

What do you hope to achieve after high school?
I want to continue to have a positive impact on younger people through my church and whatever other activities I find myself involved in.

Do you see yourself coaching in the future? Please explain and if so, what level and why?
Yes, I see myself coaching in the future because my coaches had such a massive impact on my life, and I want to be a positive role model and influential figure in the lives of other students. I will probably coach high school track because high school students are extremely impressionable as they try to find their purpose in life. I think coaching is a fantastic way to offer students additional love and support at such a critical period in life and share many life lessons through a sport I love.

I would like to give a shout-out to Coach Dunn and Coach Humphrey for helping me learn what I am truly made of and how much I can accomplish if I have the right mindset.

I would like to give a shout-out to my 4x400-meter relay team. Jadyn Hilton, Mabel Brown, and Alex Tucker, I am incredibly proud of the way you fought this season. You each gave 100% every race, and that is all I could ever ask of you.