Madison Southern graduate Hannah Hisle is no stranger to the unexpected.

Time and time again, Hisle has defied expectations -- even her own -- in her eight years of competing in track and field.

One recent surprise came when Hisle signed a national letter of intent to compete on Berea College's track and field team.

"I always thought when I was younger I wanted to leave and go away for college. I even shocked myself when I got older and realized I didn't want to move that far away from my family," Hisle recalled.

However, after visiting the campus and talking to Berea College coaches and staff, Hisle said staying in Berea was the best choice for her.

"It is actually a really great school. The more I learned about it the more I realized it was where I wanted to be. They just seem to have a lot more opportunities and everyone was so nice and inviting," Hisle explained.

She also considered Georgetown College, University of the Cumberlands and Midway University.

Hisle plans to major in journalism while at Berea College.

Hisle said she wasn't sure about continuing to run and jump in college, but quickly realized how important the sport was to her life.

"I debated whether or not I wanted to for a while. Then I realized I'm happier in season instead of out of season. I love the adrenaline and I love to compete," she explained.

Hisle made her mark in high school by competing mostly in the long jump and 100-meter dash as well as the 4x100, however she had to prove she was a competitor early on.

"I tried out for track and field in fifth grade and I really wanted to jump. One of the coaches said I was too short to jump. So I went over to where there were a lot of tall girls and they were all bigger than me. I ended up jumping higher than any of them and the coach was like, 'OK, you can jump,'" Hisle recalled with a laugh.

While Hisle worked her way into jumping, conversely, the Southern graduate had to be convinced to run the 100-meter dash.

"My eighth grade year -- I didn't run -- I just jumped. In the first meet of the season, my coach signed me up for the 100 meter dash. I told her I wasn't going to do it. She told me that I didn't realize how fast I was and told me to try. I ended up doing really well. I think I either won the region or I got runner-up that year in the 100 meters. If (the coach) had never made me do it, I would've never known I was good at it," Hisle said.

The runner said she tried to play other sports but learned quickly she was "not good at sports with a ball."

She shined on the track and field.

Her senior season, Hisle took first in the 100-meter dash and was fifth in the long jump in an all-comers meet at Madison Central. During the KHSAA Class 3A, Region 7 Meet in May, Hisle was part of Southern's 4x100 relay team that took first place with a 52.34 time. She also placed fifth in the 100 meter dash at region.

Hisle said winning region will be a memory she treasures forever.

"Our 4x100 team was seeded to get first place at regions --but the times were super close -- really, anyone could've won that race. I ran the last leg and when I crossed the finish line my first thought was, 'We might not make it to state, but we did well.' We ended up winning and it was a great feeling. That was my favorite memory of all of high school. I'm so happy it happened my senior year," Hisle recalled.

Earlier this month, the Lady Eagles were 21st in the 4x100 relay with a time of 53:01 at the KHSAA Class 3A State Meet.

Hisle's senior year ended with success -- but the season almost started with a slump.

The runner was sidelined with a shin injury that, at first, threatened to put a huge damper on her final high school season.

"It was literally the day after I signed with Berea," Hisle explained. "I ended up missing like three weeks because of my shins. I went to practice and I couldn't bear it. They thought I had fractured them, but it turned out to just be really bad shin splints."

Hisle got better and was able to compete with her relay team.

"The 4x100 is by far the event that you get the most adrenaline. You have so many people depending on you ... My favorite part of track is that teamwork. Track and field is an individual sport and a team sport at the same time. You can have an option. I've always liked that aspect of it," Hisle said.

The Southern graduate said she is excited to compete at the next level and looks forward to her future at Berea College.

"I'm most excited about the opportunity to learn and work with people that care about the sport as much as I do. Everyone that is doing it, wants to do it at that level and I think I will really enjoy that atmosphere," Hisle said.

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