Grove’s McMahon overcomes adversity to qualify for state

By Tim Wester

Terra McMahon

Union Grove’s Terra McMahon loves high school sports.

The competition. The camaraderie. The hard work.

The recently graduated McMahon gets her chance to say goodbye to her love on her own terms this weekend at the WIAA Division 1 State Track and Field Championships in La Crosse.

It’s a fitting tribute to a passion that McMahon almost gave up on a year ago.

After experiencing numerous setbacks from debilitating physical and mental ailments, the ever-optimistic McMahon wondered if sports were worth her pain and frustration.

“I had low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat and other mental health and physical problems,” she said. “It was exhausting, and it didn’t seem worth it to go through so much pain and then not getting the times I wanted.”

McMahon’s health worsened by the end of her sophomore year and extended through her junior year.

Without receiving a medical diagnosis, McMahon went through trial-and-error nutrition plans to gain weight and muscle.

“Physically my body was giving out to the point I was passing out at the end of races,” McMahon recalled. “My whole junior year was trial and error getting through everything.”

McMahon, who had come close to qualifying for state in the 200-meter dash as freshman and sophomore, did not qualify for sectionals as a junior. Then in the fall of her senior year, she was unable to compete in cross country.

A despondent McMahon had lost her love for running.

But old love is hard to forget, and McMahon slowly learned to love running again and began setting her sights on the 2019 track season. With a health maintenance program in place, McMahon set a goal for a return to sectionals.

“I looked at it as a season for redemption,” McMahon said. “I geared my training more towards the 100 rather than the 200 and continued to do long jumping.”

Then it was just matter of how much was too much.

“Terra is very strong willed,” Union Grove coach Mike Mikula said. “We had our battles trying to see each others side of the situation, but we figured it out. I wish other kids could feed off of her passion.”

Under the watchful eye of coaches and family, McMahon started winning events. She won 100, 200, and long jump at three meets and qualified for sectionals in each of those events.

“Terra can do it all,” Mikula said. “I was so happy to see her get back to sectionals after all the adversity she had been through.”

McMahon’s redemption didn’t end at sectionals. The senior qualified for the state championship in the 100 with a time of 12.83 seconds at the WIAA Division 1 Greenfield Sectional.

“To get to state is very exciting,” said McMahon, whose sister Riley was also a state qualifier in the 3200 in 2017. “A lot of hard work paid off, but I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, parents, and friends. Everyone had a role and seeing them be so proud of me was great.”

McMahon enters the state tournament with a goal of running her personal best.

“I’m not really expecting to be in the top 10,” she said. “But a personal best time would be great. I feel like this will help me keep going as a runner at UW-Stout.”

McMahon will indeed attend UW-Stout in the fall with a goal of studying pre med to help others.

“One of the things I’ll remember fondly about Terra is during a race, another runner from Racine Horlick went down and Terra stopped running to help her out,” Mikula said. “That’s just her and it says a lot about who she really is.”

“I like to win, but I also like to see other people succeed,” McMahon added. “I like to teach younger kids and guide them. I’d love to be a coach at some point.”

If there is one life lesson McMahon could give other high school athletes, it’s enjoy high school.

“Work as hard you can with goals but don’t forget what you want to do and pursue your aspirations,” she said. “But you still have to enjoy yourself along the way and go to homecomings and football games.”

The selfless McMahon gets a much-deserved chance to put an exclamation point on high