Cuthbertson freshman Hill among state’s elite runners

Cuthbertson freshman Madeline Hill heads to the finish line at the SCC Cross Country Meet.

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Madeline Hill

School: Cuthbertson High

Class: Freshman

Notable: Hill has finished in the top 10 in every cross country race she has run this season. … Finished second at the Southern Carolina Conference Cross Country Meet. … Won 16 of 17 races she entered in middle school cross country. … Last spring in middle school track, Hill was undefeated in 3200-meter races and she finished the year with the sixth fastest time in the country in the event.

It hasn’t take Cuthbertson High cross country runner Madeline Hill long to become one of the top high school distance runners in the state.

Hill made her high school debut back in August and the Cavaliers’ freshman has finished in the top 10 in every race she has entered this cross country season. Hill recently finished second at the Southern Carolina Conference Cross Country Meet with an 18:22.20 as the Cavaliers edged Weddington High for the team title.

Hill ran an 18:22.20 at the SCC meet and she has the second-fastest time among freshman girls’ cross country runners in North Carolina this year and she has the seventh fastest time overall in the state.

Of her top 10 finishes this season, Hill has two second-place finishes and she finished third at two competitive races earlier this season — the WNC Carnival and the Friday Night Lights Cross Country Meet.

So what does Cuthbertson cross country coach Kirk Walsh think of Hill’s performance so far this season?

“It isn’t all that surprising, actually,” Walsh said. “When we got her, she was already running fast times. We kind of knew she would be sub-19 this year.”

Walsh first coached Hill when she ran track in the sixth grade, where she excelled as a distance runner. Walsh encouraged Hill to come out for cross country in the seventh grade.

“Unsurprisingly for a young athlete new to the sport she was all over the place with her pacing and race strategy,” Walsh said. “But by the nature of her easy, efficient turnover and that fact that she never looked tired it was clear she was a natural endurance athlete.”

Hill jumped into cross country with both feet and she went on to become the most decorated cross country athlete in Cuthbertson Middle School history after winning 16 of 17 career cross country races.

Hill said she was a little apprehensive entering her first year of high school running but she said her teammates have been great role models. Cuthbertson senior Sarah LaTour is one of the top runners in the state and the Cavaliers are one of the favorites to win a state championship this year.

“It takes a lot of practice,” Hill said. “It was a little scary, but the upperclassmen are great leaders. Everyone was very welcoming, especially Sarah. Sarah always came to my races in middle school and it is a great opportunity to be able to run with her as a freshman in high school.”

Hill and the Cavaliers will look to take the next step towards a state championship on Saturday at the Class 3A Midwest Regional at McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte.

“I’ve learned a lot about pacing because 5K is a new race for me and it takes a lot of learning,” Hill said. “I think I am getting better at it. There will be a lot of competition at the regional and I am excited about running in it.”

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at