Madison Lueger is used to being pushed. She’s used to training every month of the year. And she’s ready to take on a challenging college career.
The freshman nutrition health sciences major from Centralia, Kansas, joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln track and field team as a javelin thrower. She fell in love with the event as a freshman in high school.
“Javelin is one of those events where you have it or you don’t,” she said.
Her teammate and suitemate Maddie Harris said she has it.
Her personal record is a 48-meter (157.5 feet) throw and Lueger said she wants to improve that by 5 meters (16.4 feet).
“Obviously, I always want to throw better,” she said. “I always want to be better.”
Lueger said she doesn’t picture herself as the Division One athlete she watches on TV but still got excited when she walked past the volleyball team on her visit to UNL last year.
“I went on my visit and I saw some of the volleyball players I was like ‘oh my god!’ and fangirling hardcore,” she said. “And then I was like ‘wait I’m actually going to be a part of this.’ And now I see them all the time and it’s no big deal.”
Harris said she has seen Lueger grow into the collegiate athlete she is today.
The two threw against each other at the University of Kansas relay throughout high school but didn’t get to know each other until May of their senior year when they realized they would be teammates.
Harris said Lueger is extremely organized and has been a huge support in college.
“She has a like $50 planner,” Harris said. “And instead of putting the meet name, she wrote ‘support Maddie!’”
“She has to be organized,” said hometown friend Jenri Conley. “And this tells you how much she cares about doing everything to the best of her ability.”
Conley said Lueger has never let the pressure of academics or athletics get to her.
“She can get really overwhelmed when she has too many things going on,” Conley said. “But that’s never hindered her performance.”
When things get stressful, the friends said movies and two or three people dance parties help Lueger calm down.
For Lueger and Conley, this typically includes a Disney throwback like “High School Musical,” but with Harris, the pair likes to let out a good cry to “The Last Song.”
These de-stressing techniques have proven important for someone who is always on the grind.
“She’s the literal embodiment of a hard worker,” Conley said. “She’s always so motivated but never for personal reasons. She wanted people to think of Centralia as a hardworking community.”
Harris thinks this small-town feel is what made Lueger so friendly and open to hugging people the first time she meets them.
Harris said Lueger has made her more accepting of a good hug even though she doesn’t typically like being hugged.
“She’s a big hugger,” Harris said. “That’s her biggest quality.”
Differences aside, the friends agree that Lueger will do amazing things in her life.
“I don’t know if everyone else felt the same way,” Conley said. “But I always knew she was going to be really good.”