The 2011 track season did not end as Walker Valley senior Madison Yates had hoped, but he did take a big step this week as far as his future.
Yates, a cross-country standout for the Mustangs, has signed to join the Bryan College track program. Bryan coach Rodney Stoker was at Walker Valley High School Thursday for a signing celebration with Yates, his family, friends and Mustang coaches.
“I’ve thought about it and prayed about it, and I think Bryan College is the place I need to be,” said Yates at Thursday’s photo session. He has been taking some classes at Lee University and considered joining the Flames’ program.
The Bryan coach said he is happy to his latest signee on board. “He’ll be running cross country this fall, and we’re also looking at some other options,” said the Lions’ mentor. “I was pleased with Madison’s improvements in the 800 this (high school) season, and we’re looking at the possibility of using him in our (overall) track program.”
Stoker said his new signee is an all-around athlete, and the Bryan coaching staff is trying to make it a smooth transition to college life ... athletically and academically. “He has great character, good work ethics and is a team leader,” said the Bryan coach. “He’s a leader by example.”
Yates was hoping to qualify for this week’s Spring Fling (state competition) in Murfreesboro, but he just missed qualifying by a few seconds.
Walker Valley coach Jasen Parks said he is sorry to lose Yates from the Mustangs’ program, emphasizing that he has been a leader at Walker Valley and will be a huge addition to the Bryan program. “He originally ran the mile and two-mile, but this year we’ve honed him into an 800 runner,” said the Mustangs’ coach.
Parks said his distance runner will compete in one more event this summer (before heading to Bryan). This will be an invitational meet in Nashville.
“It really means a lot to me that he’s going to Bryan,” added Parks.
Yates’ mother and stepfather, Linda and John Dixon, are also pleased with his decision to attend Bryan College. His mom emphasized that he will be close enough for the family to attend some of the college’s competitive events. “I’m very, very happy he’s going to Bryan,” his mother said.
His mom added that her young athlete tentatively plans a pre-med academic schedule. His grandfather, Walter Peterson, and uncle are local optometrists and he may follow in this career direction. His mother is also employed in the eye-care profession.
Yates said he had looked at some other schools, including Lee, where he was taking classes. “I hadn’t visited Bryan until last Friday,” he said. After that visit he made his decision to sign with the Lions.
The Walker Valley runner said he started out in cross country in the sixth grade, then became more motivated and competitive when he entered high school. He has continued in that direction under the guidance of the Walker Valley coaching staff.
He has been on the Walker Valley varsity for the past four years.