Hurdle heirs: Madden and Tallen Thorson carry on family legacy

The siblings were jumping hurdles as soon as they could walk.

state track b boys 300 hurdles 052921
Thompson's Sam Roller (5) gets tripped up in the Class B boys' 300-meter hurdles alongside Madden Thorson (4) of Harvey-Wells and Garrett Syverson (3) of Nelson County. Saturday, May 29, 2021, at the North Dakota State Track and Field Meet in Bismarck. John M. Steiner / The Sun
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HARVEY — For the Thorson family, hurdling is not an individual event, but it is a family event. The hurdles are an event the entire family has participated in for decades and will continue to compete in for at least the next four years with Madden and Tallen continuing the family tradition for Harvey/Wells County.

The Hornets are coached by Kim Thorson and two of the top hurdlers on the team are her sons, senior Madden and freshman Tallen.

The family’s maternal grandmother, Beckee Keller, ran hurdles when she was in high school. Madden and Tallen’s uncle, Stevie Keller, ran hurdles when he was in high school and is currently the head coach of the North Dakota State University track and field programs. The brothers' aunt, Susie Keller, also participated in the hurdles when she was in high school.

As a result, Kim said that Madden started practicing the hurdles when he was 3 years old thanks to some help from grandma Beckee.

“I remember when I was really little, she had these little plastic hurdles that I would go over,” Madden said. “When I barely started walking and running she had me go over those. I’ve been introduced to them all my life, I’ve been doing them for a long time. Even today, she still watches videos and helps me out a lot on what to do and how to get better.”


Kim said that her sons and their grandmother spend a lot of time together during the spring breaking down film and working to get better at the sport.

“It’s a pretty unique bond that’s for sure,” Kim said. “He’s a grandma’s boy for sure, (Madden will) admit that. We actually live right next to my parents so during track season he will go over there almost every night, him and Tallen, and they’ll just sit, talk track and hurdles, and he’s constantly watching videos.”

After finishing last season first in the 300-meter hurdles and second in the 110-meter hurdles events in the state championships, Madden is currently sitting in first place in class B in both events, which he credits to a little bit of a sibling rivalry.

“I think knowing my brother is right behind me trying to get the fastest time I can,” Madden said, “so, when he’s older, above my age, make it hard for him to beat those times.”

Tallen is currently sitting second in the 110-meter hurdles and third in the 300-meter event. He gives a lot of the credit for his high placements to the help that his brother has given him.

"I look up to him a lot," Tallen said. "He's a big reason I'm having so much success I'd say this year. Just because I look up to him and he pushes me to be my best."

Madden has also committed to playing football at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He said that he can see the hurdle skills help him on the football field.

“I think it helps a lot with my mobility in my hips and moving quickly on the football field, doing the hurdles really helps me be flexible,” Madden said. “It helps me run faster too.”


Kim said Madden goes into track meets concentrating more on breaking his own records rather than winning the event.

“He’s competing against himself all the time,” Kim said. “He’s shooting for a goal as far as a time, place wise, yeah he’s excited about first like last year at state when he took first, he got his personal record. He was more excited about the personal record than he was about the first place. Every track meet he tells me, ‘Mom, this is what I’m running today, this is my goal.’ He finally did break the 40 and get a 39 in the 300s.”

The two brothers noted how much they push each other to be better and work to get better at the sport. Madden said the siblings have bonded over the sport, despite their competitiveness.

“We lift almost every day,” Tallen said. “We’re on the treadmills every day and at practice we push each other. Sometimes we get in some fights.”

Despite the current hurdle that Madden is facing of having an emergency appendix removal surgery on Tuesday, May 17, he is determined to return to the track for the state championships May 26-28.

“I’m feeling great,” Thorson said. “I feel like I am recovering pretty well, just trying to relax so I can get back in about a week.”

My name is Max O'Neill. I am the Sports Lead at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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