The first time Hermiston track coach Emilee Strot saw Madi Wilson run, she knew the girl had a future in the sport.
Wednesday, Wilson proved her coach right, signing a letter of intent to run track at Eastern Washington University.
“She is a really special kid,” Strot said. “This is a big deal. High school athletes want to go D-I, and they have a high level of competition and a great team.”
For Wilson, she said Eastern was a great fit for her when she went for her official visit.
“My first instinct was, this is amazing,” she said. “I felt at home. I loved it.”
Wilson said her scholarship will cover tuition and books. If she shows marked improvement over the years, the scholarship will increase.
At EWU, Wilson will put her talents to use in the heptathlon. She did a couple this past summer, and knows she needs to improve in the shot put and javelin.
Wilson, who runs the 100 and 300 hurdle events, and legs on the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams, started running track in elementary school.
“The high school kids put on a meet for kids 4 years old through fifth grade,” she said. “I did that for as long as I can remember. The 400 was my baby. Running track was my sport.”
She also got a boost from her parents. Her dad BJ played football and was a decathlete at Central Washington University, while her mom, Crystal, played basketball at Lower Columbia Community College, then continued at CWU, where she also competed in track.
Strot got her first look at Wilson when she was a freshman. With basketball season running long, Wilson only had a couple of practices before she hit the track.
“I didn’t know who she was, and she missed the first couple of weeks of training,” Strot said. “We brought her to a meet and my jaw dropped. We put her in a JV race and she crushed it. I knew she would do great things.”
And she has.
She has gone to state every year since she was a freshman, picking up her first medal in the 4x400 relay, where the Bulldogs placed eighth. She also went in the 100 hurdles, but did not place.
As a sophomore, she was second at state in the 100 hurdles, sixth in the 300 hurdles, and the 4x400 relay team finished second.
Last year, she was second at state in the 100 hurdles in a time of 14.98 seconds. She was fifth in the 300 hurdles (46.70), the 4x100 relay was second (49.05), and the 4x400 team was sixth (4:07.70).
This year, all of the runners on both the 4x400 and 4x100 relay teams return.
“We will get a whole lot more competition in the Washington league,” she said. “I was always running by myself. It will be nice to have the competition. It’s a fresh start, and I’ll see what I’m made of.”