For The Tribune

Madison Hays visited ten colleges before choosing the University of Indianapolis, where she’ll be running both cross-country and track for the 2015-16 school year.

The Greyhounds were the best fit for her because of location, finances, academics and the opportunity to run for a solid program, she said.

She also will have a lot of friends in the Indiana-polis area, many who are former classmates.

The University of Indianapolis is a Division II team and is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Hays plans on majoring in communications.

The senior became a leader on the girls’ cross-country team this past Fall as she helped lead her team to a 19th place finish at the Indiana State Cross Country Championship.

Hays was a top-five runner on last year’s team. Due to injuries, she started at a lower position this season but worked her way back.

“She’s been solid for us for four years,” cross-country coach Spencer Sun-bury said.

“She’s a good kid, she works hard, and she’s a great teammate. Whatever you ask her to do, she’ll do it.”

With a young team this past fall, Sunbury said Hay’s leadership was exemplary.

Girl’s track coach Bob Sexton also commented on how Hays has grown and evolved into a leader.

“She’s always been there to help other team members,” Sexton said. “She’s always been a team player. She’s also worked hard on her splits. She’s been a leader for us, and she’s going to be missed.”

Another draw for Hays was getting the opportu-nity to work with coach Kathy Casey.

“The team is great, and the coach very personable”, Hays said. “ She knows what she’s talking about, and she’s very experienced. I thought I could do well there and propel my running career.”

Perseverance was a big part of Hays’ senior year, and her hard work paired with a strong mental outlook helped her get back on track with her running.

“She’s had her ups and downs (injuries), but she’s kept her head on straight,” Sunbury said. “This year started off rough with some lingering injuries, but she never doubted herself and she never got down.”

Both Sunbury and Sexton said she’s a hard worker and a great example for other athletes.

“She has certainly earned everything she’s gotten,” athletics director Brandon Harpe said. “Our girls’ teams are in second place among the (Hoosier Hills) conference, and she’s a huge part of that.

“She is a two-sport athlete, and she’s been a leader in that group. She’s a student first, and she’s awfully successful in her athletic endeavors also.”