Senior Maddie Hill of Liberty High School currently leads the State of Missouri in the 1600m with a time of 4:56.58 that she ran last week at the KC Suburban Red Conference Championships. She is a 3x State Medalist in Cross Country, including a third place finish this past season, and is a 5x State Medalist on the Track with three medals in the 800m, and two in the 1600m. We were fortunate enough to ask her some questions as she prepares to enter the State Series for the final time to cap of a spectacular high school career.
Q: When did you start running? When did you realize you were good at it?
A: In middle school, I was on a parochial league track team through the grade school I attended. We had practices two days a week and 4 meets, and I ran about 2-3 miles a week. At the end of the year City Meet in 8th grade, I broke the city parochial league record in the 800m at 2:29. I still have the picture...I ran with a pair of Sketchers that had a hole in the toe. That was my first real sign. I played volleyball my freshman year, and my sophomore year I went out for cross country for the first time and began 'real' running. I finished 5th at state and knew I needed to shift my focus to serious running.
Q: What is your favorite Track event?
A: My freshmen year the 800 was my favorite event to run, but after my first cross country season, I realized that I could also do well in other events like the 1600, which I started running my sophomore year. I like the 1600 because it's a combination of speed and endurance, and that still allows me to use my fast twitch muscles, but also taps into my endurance.
Q: You are currently ranked 1st in the 1600, 2nd in the 3200, and 5th in the 800 in Class 5. Are you going to try and do all three at State this year?
A: I have been thinking a lot about that. Missouri makes it difficult with the order of events and the little rest time between the 800 and 3200 in qualifying meets like Sectionals. I would like to say I All-Stated 4 years in the 800m, but putting 3 good races together in a small window of time with the competition we have in our Sectional seems daunting. I have some more thinking to do in that area.
Q: What is it like running in the Kansas City area and competing against such good competition every week?
A: The competition in my area has been really strong all four years of my high school career. It has been challenging for sure. Tori Findley, Danielle Hotalling, Addie Coppinger, Taiya Shelby, Emma Roth, Tessa Valdivia, Miranda Dick, Jana Shawver, Madison Hulsey, Ginger Murnieks are all great runners. Pretty much the whole Lee's Summit West and Ray-Pec distance teams when I think about it! I think they referred to our sectional last year as the "Sectional of Death"...I think that is fitting again this year, and unfortunately, All-State caliber runners will not make it out of Section 4 again, which doesn't seem fair, but I don't have any control over that.
Q: What is your favorite running memory?
A: Two memories that come to mind are winning the inaugural Tim Nixon Invitational this past cross country season, and finally breaking the 5-minute barrier in the mile my Junior year at Festival of Miles...after a minor let down in that race at state. I tried to keep up with Tori, and I paid the price in the second half of that race! It was a good learning experience. I really like the Festival of Miles. It's a very cool meet to be invited to race in, I like how they just feature the distance races, and it is for a good cause. The competition is amazing!
Q: You have committed to continue your running career at Iowa State, what made you decide that was the place for you?
A: The college recruiting process was a very enjoyable learning experience. I was treated so well at every school (Nebraska, Missouri, Tulsa, Louisville, Creighton, and Iowa State). It came down to Missouri and Iowa State. I lost several nights sleep over it as I debated back and forth. I knew so many of the girls at Missouri, I loved the coaches, and Tori was a great host! With all that said, I really liked the tradition of the Iowa State XC and distance programs. I enjoyed getting to know the girls on the team who are top-notch athletes, and they are all girls I have never really competed against, which is kind of intriguing. ISU tradition of success in XC seems to be like how KU is in basketball in the BIG 12. I really loved the new distance coach, Amy Rudolph, and she is also a former distance Olympian...so that is pretty cool as well. I know I will have to work my butt off to make their talented squad.
Q: Do you have any idols in the running world that you look up to?
A: Karissa Schweizer. She was a really good runner in high school, but she really excelled in college. I don't think she had a lot of state titles under her belt before she headed to Missouri. It just shows me how staying focused and continuing to work hard can really lead you to success. I also like Jenny Simpson.
Q: Who do you look to for inspiration outside of the running world?
A: Charlie, my 3-year-old cousin who recently passed away, and I think of my former XC coach Tim Nixon who passed away at the end of XC season my junior year.
Q: What is your go to pre-race meal?
A: It sometimes varies. Either pasta, a loaded baked potato, or breakfast for dinner which includes chocolate chip pancakes and eggs.
Q: What is your favorite song to get you pumped before a race?
A: I don't necessarily have a favorite song, however, I do like to listen to a variety of today's popular music and some classic rock. Some of my favorite classic rock bands include AC/DC and Guns N' Roses.
Q: What is your favorite type of workout, and what is your least favorite?
A: My favorite type of workout is 400 repeats. I really tend to favor the quicker paced workouts, but I'm starting to appreciate the longer workouts that hone in on my endurance. I didn't start running or training distance until my sophomore year, so I know I have a lot of room to improve my fitness through endurance training. I'm not a huge fan of tempos.
Q: Do you have any running superstitions/rituals (i.e. always wear the same socks, right shoe on before left shoe, etc.)
A: I'm not too superstitious, but a couple of things I like to keep consistent are wearing my pink wristband that has the words "NIXON" and "TRUST" on it and wearing my Nixon headband.
Q: If you could play any sport besides XC/Track what would it be and why?
A: I would play soccer. I used to play competitive soccer from 5th grade up until the winter of my freshman year of high school. My freshman year I did not know if I was going to do soccer or track, but I just felt a stronger pull to see what I could accomplish on the track. I made the decision to run track the night before the first day of practice.
Q: What is your favorite XC Course, and what is your least favorite?
A: My favorite cross country course is Rim Rock. If run right, using the downhills and uphills, it can greatly benefit your race outcome. As far as my least favorite course, I would have to say Stocksdale Park in Liberty. Although it would be considered our home course, it is brutally hilly, testing me more mentally than physically at times. However, that course holds a lot of sentimental value, as it is where I ran my first ever cross country race.
Q: What is your goal for the end of the season?
A: My goal for this season is continuing to improve upon where my times are at this point. I just want to step off the track after each race knowing that I did the best I could and that I'm finishing my high school track career with no regrets. There are a lot of talented runners in Missouri who are capable of great things...so I'm just going to focus on what I can control and hope for the best outcome.
Q: What is your coach like, and how much of an effect have they had on you and your team?
A: For the past two years, my distance coach has been Aaron Hohn. He's consistent, analytical, individualized with plans, and he explains reasons behind each workout which I really appreciate and value. He ran in college, so I think that is helpful, but certainly not a must. He is building a very deep team on the distance side of things, and I think the Liberty girl's program will be pretty tough in the next few years. I've also been blessed to have had several good assistant coaches to work with too.
Q: Do you have any shout outs you'd like to give?
A: My team, coaches, family, and everyone who has supported me and continues to support me in my running endeavors. My family and grandparents are pretty good about taking time out of their schedules to attend almost all my meets. Thanks, MO Mile Split for this interview opportunity!