Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Plano East's Jennifer Madu has five chances for gold at UIL state track meet
Jennifer Madu had an epiphany last summer.
After winning the 100-meter dash at the IAAF World Youth Championships in France, Madu, then a senior-to-be at Plano East, realized she was transforming into an elite track and field athlete.
“It hit me after I crossed the finish line,” she said. “I was like, ‘Dang, I just won.’ It kind of dawned on me that if I kept working hard, I could go anywhere.”
The recruiting contact period was up and running upon Madu’s return to the United States. She received countless letters and phone calls from college coaches around the country before committing to Texas A&M.
“It’s a homey place,” Madu said. “Everyone is really friendly, and the academics are up to par. It’s one of those places I could just tell I’d succeed there.”
But before moving to College Station, Madu has the UIL Class 5A state meet Saturday in Austin.
At regionals in Lubbock, Madu won gold in five events: the long jump (19 feet, 1/2 inch), triple jump (41-3/4), the 100 meters (11.46 seconds, a personal record), the 200 (23.66, also a personal record) and the 4x100 relay as the anchor (46.74).
Madu plans to compete in all of those events at state. Heading into the meet, she has the fastest times among all qualifiers in the 100 and 200 and the best mark in the triple jump.
As a freshman, Madu had aspirations to go to Texas A&M. She considered it her “dream school.”
But as she became savvier in the recruiting process, other schools looked appealing based on program history, coaches, etc.
In the end, Madu came full circle and decided to commit to the Aggies, whose men’s and women’s teams have won a national championship three years running and could be on pace to win a fourth next month.
Plus she feels that training under head coach Pat Henry and women’s sprint coach Vince Anderson will help her reach one of her goals — qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Madu plans to major in biomedical sciences and hopes to go to medical school and become a sports medicine physician.
Leading the way
Madu said the workouts that Plano East coach Chris Lillie has been putting the team through recently have been extra tough in preparing for state.
“The workouts could take 10 minutes but make you lie on the floor for 20,” she said.
Lillie, who has coached Madu most of high school, said what sets her apart from other athletes is that she does everything right.
“From warming up to getting all the girls involved in the drills, she’s a big leader for our team,” he said. “She never questions what we do in workouts, has a great work ethic and is always the first one on the track and the last one to leave.”
She also has a fun-loving personality that comes off on the track.
“If I’m warming up, I’m the most serious person in the world,” Madu said. “But when we’re lining up, I’m really goofy, and that’s my normal self. I always randomly sing and break into dance.”
Lillie mentioned that one of the things he admires about Madu is her dedication to the growth and development of young athletes. Madu goes to middle school track meets to give kids a boost.
“It’s cool to see what we have coming up and encourage the kids to keep running,” Madu said.
Madu said the feeling heading into state is bittersweet because it’s her last time running for Plano East.
“I want to go out with a bang, but at the same time, I don’t want it to end,” she said.
Madu believes she can set a personal best and that the girls have a solid chance to win it all.
Ten more girls to watch
11.68 in 100 is fastest qualifying time
Top qualifier by nearly a second
Top qualifier (13-6) by nearly a foot
Won 100 hurdles, 4th in 300 last year
Carr. Newman Smith
Won 400, third in 800 last year
long, triple jumps
Best TJ qualifying mark of 40-41/2
Best qualifying time of 5:02.61 in 1,600
discus, shot put
National record holder in discus
Top qualifying mark of 19-43/4
Best qualifying time in 400
Girls teams to watch
Defending state champ has excellent chance to repeat with all three relays qualified, plus five individual events
Region I champion finished third at state last year, could push DeSoto with wins in 4x200 and 4x400
Star Jennifer Madu (100, 200, long jump, triple jump) could pile up enough points to put East near top of standings
School that won eight straight titles from 2001 to 2008 could get back on top with three strong relays and four individual events
Frisco Lone Star
Region II champ could make run at state title with 4x200 and 4x400 relays and four individual events