“A once in a lifetime kind of athlete.”
That’s how Creston girls track and field head coach Clay Arnold described MaKenna Hudson, Creston Community High School’s Outstanding Female Athlete for 2020.
Through Hudson’s time as a Panther, she evolved from a freshman with great potential to a future legend as a senior. As a four-year letter winner in volleyball and track, she was a dual-sport athlete all four years where her mindset was set and focused.
“The mentality was instilled that being less than your best and less than first place was, I’m not going to say not acceptable, but that wasn’t what you wanted, that’s what you were working toward, first,” Hudson said. “If you weren’t, then you kind of had to work a little harder to get there.”
Going into Hudson’s senior year, she was a leader in the fall and was going to be a one of the most important pieces in the spring.
On the volleyball court, she was a four-year back-row player for the varsity squad, contributing to a regional semifinal Panther team in her senior season. She is Creston’s all-time leader with 1,057 career digs. As a senior, Hudson was an all-conference honorable mention selection.
Creston head volleyball coach Traci Haley said Hudson was like another coach on the floor and helped Haley transition when she took over the volleyball program.
“She was great help giving guidance,” Haley said. “Just that coach on the court during games and wanting to make sure we were always staying on schedule with our practices and getting what we needed for her and those in her position. To make sure they were staying focused on all areas.”
Hudson will be continuing “the sport she loves” as a libero at Southwestern Community College in the fall, where Haley expects Hudson will succeed from the moment she walks on campus.
“With me being a first-year coach this year, her being on my team was huge,” Haley said. “She was that great leader and helped push us in the right direction. She’s very deserving of this award.”
The relationship that built a legend
Being a multi-sport athlete, Hudson shifted her focus to track after her final fall sports season. She ultimately wasn’t able to run due to COVID-19 canceling the season, but missing her senior year won’t keep her out of the record books or the legacy of Creston track and field.
“She’s, historically, one of the greatest athletes to ever come through track and field in our school’s history,” Arnold said.
Going into Hudson’s senior season, she was second in total team points scored through the last decade behind Brielle Baker. Hudson qualified for 11 state events.
Arnold said this season, barring injury, she would have overtaken Baker’s record of 14.
Hudson is the second-fastest in the 400 and open 800 – behind Audrey Bolinger and Natale Mostek, respectively – in the past decade and “third or fourth in school history.” She will finish as part of one school record, the anchor on the 2018 distance medley relay.
Arnold said Hudson’s closest comparison to a Creston great is Mostek. Both were “superstar talents” as they entered high school, and each went down into track and field history despite not enjoying the sport when they began and said Hudson will go down as “one of the legendary girls.”
For Hudson, the feeling of being compared to a Creston great like Mostek is a feeling full of emotion and pride.
“He talks about those girls a lot in practices and references them, so when he puts me up there, I know he’s going to put me up there and use me as an example,” Hudson said. “I think that is something really cool to think about. He’ll use my story to work with the younger generations and try and get them to the same points.”
Hudson’s connection with Arnold goes beyond her four-year high school career. Arnold coached her siblings and has been around the program for nearly a decade.
“A once in a lifetime kind of athlete” was one of the many characteristics Arnold gave to his 2020 standout. The impact of the statement from someone so close to her heart hit home for Hudson.
“The amount of respect that I have for the Arnolds,” Hudson said through teary eyes and broken voice. “It’s definitely great being considered that. There was a lot of great talent before me. Anyone who ran in college – Audrey Bolinger, Maria Mostek, Natalie Mostek, Brianna Maitlen – they were all phenomenal runners. For him to put me up there is really nice.”
With one final season, Hudson was more prepared than ever before, having the best early-season practices of her career. Even without the senior season, Hudson will go down in track and field history and Creston history.
The dual-sport athlete with an” intense work ethic,” “mature mind” and “huge heart” said she never thought about being considered the outstanding athlete for her class whenever she was in school, but understands everything extra she did came full circle.
“I would say a lot of just the hard work that I put in for the last six or seven years kind of paid off,” Hudson said. “I put in extra time, so winning that award proves that it paid off.”
Creston High School Outstanding Female Athlete Award winners:
1972-73 — Jan Lesan
1973-74 — Ellen Pendegraft
1974-75 — Carol Reed, Sue Tindle
1975-76 — Roxann Sammons
1976-77 — Rhonda Piel
1977-78 — Dorothy Loos
1978-79 — Carol McFee, Kerri Martin
1979-80 — Debbie Oxenrider
1980-81 — Janelle Johnson, Kelly Reed
1981-82 — Marty Lang
1982-83 — Melanie Blubaugh, Lynn Spurgeon
1983-84 — Lisa Becker, Lori Quam
1984-85 — Donna Dickinson
1985-86 — Tawnya Antisdel
1986-87 — Shannon Freeman
1987-88 — Deanne Eilers
1988-89 — Barb Bradley, Polly Gammell
1989-90 — Janelle Eblen
1990-91 — Kandee Bishop
1991-92 — Tonya Latham
1992-93 — Emily Sevier
1993-94 — Tara Adams, Teri Bunkofske
1994-95 — Summer Hook
1995-96 — Cari Briley, Sarah Vicker
1996-97 — Lindsay Courtney
1997-98 — Casee Piel, Jessica Moeller
1998-99 — Leanne Owens
1999-00 — Emily Bruce, Michelle Clausen
2000-01 — Amanda Parker
2001-02 — Kylee Bradley, Jessica Schierbaum
2002-03 — Stormy Weis
2003-04 — Amy Goldsmith
2004-05 — Jacque Jay
2005-06 — Ashley Hartsook, Brittany Riley
2006-07 — Kari McCann
2007-08 — Meghin Krambeck
2008-09 — Morgan Evans, Nicole Hunter, Aubrey Pendegraft
2009-10 — Jill Johnson, Kierra Smith
2010-11 — Taylor Hance, Carla Smith
2011-12 — Katlin Briley, Madison Frain
2012-13 — Brianna Maitlen
2013-14 — Chelcee Downing
2014-15 — Natalie Mostek
2015-16 — Taylor Briley
2016-17 — Lexie Little, Rachel Shepherd
2017-18 — Cayla Maitlen
2018-19 — Brielle Baker
2019-20 — MaKenna Hudson