The goal couldn’t have been clearer for Madelynne Cadeau heading into her final season running cross country at South Forsyth.
After a third place finish at the Class 7A state championships as a junior, she was set on graduating high school as a state champ. With that in mind, she increased her summer mileage and did what she could to outwork the tough competition she knew would be on the horizon.
“I definitely was confident and I had that thought in the back of my mind,” Cadeau said. “I knew anybody could step up on the day, and anybody could be working for it. So that's kind of what motivated me throughout the season, just me knowing that I wanted to win and knowing that other people wanted to win as well.”
And eventually, all that work paid off for the War Eagles’ No. 1 runner. Her last shot at an individual state title wasn’t even close, as she crossed the finish line in Carrollton as the only female runner in Class 7A with a mark under 19 minutes, at 18:46.37. But while her season ended in the way she’d envisioned from the start, the first weeks of her season were anything but charmed.
Leading up to her first race of the year, Cadeau felt like something was off and couldn’t put her finger on it. After the very first mile of that first race, she quickly began to feel worse, and eventually crossed the finish line after a showing that didn’t even come close to her standards.
“I felt like I was almost jogging,” she said. “I couldn't put myself in the race. I was definitely a little scared as to what was going on. I was worried as to when I was going to start feeling myself again.”
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Luckily, Logan Roberts, one of her future college coaches at Furman University, was there. He knew something about Cadeau wasn’t right just from watching her run, and after the race was over, the two began the process of trying to figure out what the issue was.
After she was blood tested, it was determined that Cadeau had an iron deficiency, and she began taking supplements to help counteract that. She had committed to Furman around the time of that first race, and the way her future school’s coaches helped her through the situation confirmed the decision she’d made.
“I've had my eyes set on Furman for a very long time,” she said. “I think for sure, seeing how well they took care of me and took me under their wing and helped me get better, that definitely showed me. That's something that I wanted in my college coach.
“I really enjoy being outside and stuff, so when I saw the campus, I thought it was beautiful. They have a lake in the center and it's just in the middle of nowhere a little bit. It's kind of off in its own little private area so I really love that about the campus.”
But before she can head up to Greenville, she still has at least one more cross country race, the Nike Cross Regionals on Nov. 30, and then nationals if she makes it that far. At South, her sights are now set on a potential track title in the spring: She finished second and third in the two-mile and 1,600 meter races at state last year. But no matter what happens on that front, she’ll always have her last high school cross country season to look back on fondly.
“I think overall, it was a good season, though I didn't hit maybe the times that I wanted to consistently,” Cadeau said. “I had a couple of setbacks but overall, it was good.”