When Caleb Madden first started throwing the shot put and discus, he fell in love with a new sport.
Soon after diving into the world of track and field, he thought about the possibilities of continuing his craft past Seymour High School and into college.
“It has always been in the back of my mind since I started throwing in middle school,” Madden said. “I thought it was something that I wanted to do, and became something I could do.”
Madden put ink to paper Wednesday, signing a letter of intent to join the track and field team at the University of Southern Indiana.
USI, located in Evansville, is an NCAA Division II school that competes in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Seymour throwing coach Chris Rose said that Madden is an exemplary student-athlete.
“He works hard every day,” Rose said. “It was never only about him. He always has had a team-first mentality.”
Madden recently threw a personal-best of 46 feet, 1 inch, in the shot put at the Seymour Invitational. His career-best for the discus is around 140 feet, he said.
When visiting USI for the first time, Madden got to know the coaching staff.
“I really liked the coaches,” Madden said. “It seems like we’re going to have a really tight-knit group of throwers, and that really attracted me to the program. The coaches have given me some confidence. Hopefully, if I work hard, I can step in and contribute.”
Mike Hillyard has been the head coach of the Screaming Eagles men’s program since 1998. He has guided 19 student athletes to a total of 69 All-America awards in cross country and track and field. Hillyard has seen 40 of his student-athletes win 69 conference titles.
He has also directed 23 men’s competitors to the NCAA II Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Hillyard was named the NCAA II Midwest Region Coach of the Year for outdoor track & field by the USTFCCCA in 2015.
Madden will also work closely with throws specialist Jalen Madison, who is in his first year as an assistant coach at USI. Madison, a 2017 graduate, etched his name in the USI record books for five throwing events during his collegiate career and set the school record in the discus as a senior at the 2017 GLVC Outdoor Championships.
While he hasn’t been told what events he will compete in yet, Madden would like to try some new ones.
“I would like to try the hammer and the javelin,” Madden said. “I’ve always wanted to try the javelin, so I’m hoping to do really well.”
Owls head track coach Randy Fife said Madden is able to fill any role on his team, and that his work ethic will serve him well at the next level.
“This young man can do lots of things,” Fife said. “He could run about any event he wanted to, and the nice thing is he’s willing to do it. He steps up and gets it done. We have appreciated his attitude.”
Madden, who also started for the football team, said the weight room shaped him into the athlete he is today.
“My athletic career at Seymour started in middle school when I wasn’t much of an athlete,” Madden said. “I started hitting the weight room and that helped a lot. It has helped me accomplish everything that I have. I really appreciate the coaches a lot.”
Madden said he plans to study mechanical engineering at USI.