Carrington's Madison Johnson shooting for a state title in track

May 7—CARRINGTON, N.D. — It's taken Madison Johnson six years to become one of the best prep runners in the state.

"I found my passion for running when I started track," said Johnson, a senior out of Carrington High School. "As a seventh grader, I went to State in the two mile, which was a very big accomplishment of mine. I didn't place at State and wasn't even close to placing. As a matter of fact, I was probably third to last, but at least I was there. I didn't have a lot of muscle or anything like that.

"Making it to State made me want to get better at running with time," she said. "We didn't get track in eighth grade because of COVID, but I still continued to run. As a freshman, I made it to state in the mile, 800 and 4x800. I only placed on the 4x800 with my team. I had better times but not enough to place."

As a sophomore, Johnson placed in the mile, 800, 4x800 and 4x400. In 2023, Johnson placed third, fourth, fourth and second, respectively, in the 1600, 800, 4x800 and 4x400.

"Last year these places were higher than any other places I've gotten," Johnson said. "My goals for this year are really high but I think they are achievable. This year I hope to be a state champion in at least one of my events and hopefully more. As a team, I hope to place first as well."

Johnson said this year's mild weather has made her senior year goals even more feasible.

"I have gotten some great personal records and even broke my school record which was 5:16 in the mile," Johnson said.

Johnson ran a 5-minute, 10-second mile at Fargo's Elite Meet on April 20.

"My teammates and coaches have also been very motivating and supportive," she said.

While her teammates and coaches have motivated Johnson over the last six years, it's actually been her mom who has set the bar for Johnson.

"She works out almost every day and I see how much hard work she puts in at 45 years old and that makes me believe that I am capable of doing anything," Johnson said.

"I run and do workouts six times a week, along with some lifting," she said. "I do really enjoy being active and moving my body, so this lifestyle is for me. We usually have an average of two meets per week, which is kind of hard to balance with missing full days of school, but it usually is all right."

Johnson and her teammates have eight meets left on the regular season schedule. Johnson will then go on to compete at the 2024 NDHSAA Class B State Meet May 23-25 in Bismarck.

Johnson will have some stiff competition at State again this year.

Sophomore Brynn Hanson of Des Lacs-Burlington earned state titles in the 800, 1600 and 3200 and placed third in the 400-meter dash.

"She is a really strong runner and has a great kick at the end," Johnson said of Hanson. "I got done and was very amazed by how much strength she had at the end. It made me want to get stronger and be able to have a strong kick at the end like hers."

Currently, Johnson holds the top time in the Class B rankings for the 1600-meter run but her teammate, Kennadie Pazdernik, and Bowman County's Jaci Fischer are not far behind having clocked times of 5:25 and 5:28, respectively.

Johnson's best time in the 800 this spring stands at 2:21.08, pinning her as the fastest 800 runner in the Class B scene and fourth-fastest in the state. Killdeer's Addie Miller Hardersen is chasing Johnson's time having run a 2:22.74 while Jaci Fischer, a senior out of Bowman County, has run a 2:23.03.

As for the relays, Carrington's 4x400 meter crew is ranked sixth in the state. Carrington's team comprised of Isabel Wendel, Mercedes Lura, Edyn Hoornaert and Johnson had its best race of the season on April 12. The squad stopped the clock at 4:11.68.

"My favorite event is probably the 4x400 just because it is the shortest and fastest and my teammates are great," Johnson said.

Carrington is 7 seconds off of the No. 1 time in the 4x400. Grand Forks Red River clocked a time of 4 minutes, 4.88 seconds at a meet in Grand Forks on April 30.

In the 4x800, Carrington held the top time in the state until last weekend when the team out of Fargo Davies ran a 9:50.04 at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays.

Carrington's time of 9:53.29 earned at Lisbon's American Legion Meet on April 22 is three seconds faster than that of Bismarck High's team and eight seconds ahead of Valley City's A squad.

While her mind is on the upcoming Class B State Track and Field Meet, scheduled to be held May 23-25, Johnson's mind is also on the future. The Carrington senior said she does have aspirations to run track at the collegiate level but as of May 6, she still has to decide between two colleges.

Either college would be lucky to have her.

"A lot of track is mental, so you really have to believe in yourself and your capabilities," Johnson said. "It is so easy to give up or not try your hardest. I really have to have a strong mentality to achieve my goals."