ELKIN - After tearing her ACL last year, Elkin senior Madison Durham had a tough decision to make.
Durham had to decide whether to risk re-injuring her knee to suit up for the Lady Elks basketball team this past winter, or sit out the season to pursue a cross country and track career at the collegiate level.
The senior chose the latter and saw her hard work rewarded on National Signing Day when she inked her official letter of intent to run for Mars Hall College in the fall.
“It was a hard decision between basketball and running because I haven’t ran in a while,” Durham explained. “It was really hard because I’ve been playing basketball since I was eight. Whenever I hurt my knee, I knew I probably wasn’t going to get to play again.
“But I decided that I would rather run in college than play basketball this year, and I think it was the right decision,” she continued. “It’s exciting. I just can’t wait to run in college.”
Durham is one of the most decorated runners in Elkin’s storied cross country and track and field programs. As a sophomore, Durham received all-conference, all-region and all-state honors, while capturing a silver medal in the 1,600 meter run and a bronze medal in the 800 meter run at the 1A state championship meet in 2011.
Elkin distance coach Dan Merritt said that seeing Durham overcoming the devastating knee injury will serve her well in the collegiate ranks.
“Madison has had some ups and downs during her high school career. Her junior year, she ended up being anemic and then turned around and had to have her appendix out and then she tore her ACL,” he said. “So we’re continuing to work to get her back into the shape she was in as a sophomore where she was a conference champion, regional champion and a state runner-up.
“I think the discipline and desire to be better and to work hard to overcome these injuries shows the kind of fortitude she has when faced with adversity. Every time an adversity has come up, she’s worked through it and continued to work hard,” he continued. “It’s a good example of never giving up and that good things will happen. She didn’t give up and good things have happened.”
Durham’s discipline and desire was rewarded on National Signing Day when she signed with Mars Hill.
After considering Belmont Abbey, Lees-McRae and Mount Olive, the senior narrowed her choice down to the small, private college in the mountains.
“I visited up there and the team was really friendly. It was just a good fit for me,” Durham said.
But before heading up the mountain, Durham is ready to get back to running for the Elks as a senior leader.
“It was hard for me not to be able to run for three months. But I’m getting stronger now,” she said. “I’m trying to win the 800 or the mile at states this year, and our 4x4 team has a good shot at winning state.”
Merritt said he will rely on Durham to set the example and lead the team this spring.
“As a senior, she is a leader. The other girls look up to her as a leader for the things she’s accomplished in her high school career,” he explained. “Madison has set for the tone for the program I believe. Because of her, the girls have definitely come a long way in cross country. The example that she has set in working hard has caused other girls to want to follow in those footsteps.
“But I’m very proud of her signing,” Merritt continued. “I think she’s going to do extremely well at Mars Hill; she’s going to be an asset to them.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.