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11/21/2023 02:23 PM

Moriarty’s Positivity Shined Through as H-K Cross Country Captain

Senior Maddy Moriarty was a captain and crucial component of the Haddam-Killingworth girls’ cross country team’s eventual three-peat as Shoreline Conference champions in 2023. Photo courtesy of Maddy Moriarty

A cross country team can form really close-knit bonds that create inspiration for others to strive for their best, which was just the case for the Haddam-Killingworth girls’ squad this past fall campaign, under the senior stewardship of Maddy Moriarty.

After dancing for 13 years competitively, Maddy joined the track team as a freshman for the Cougars and was drawn in by running–paving the path for her to join the cross country club as a sophomore the following fall. Two years later, she assumed the role of captain this season and helped push H-K to its third-consecutive Shoreline Conference Championship.

“I joined the cross country team, and I just fell in love with the teammates, the coaches, and really just the whole atmosphere,” says Maddy. “It was my senior year, and I was honored to be named a captain. It was great because I loved the team, being a leader, and just representing the team in a positive way and being an influence to the younger runners.”

There is a beginning, middle, and end portion when it comes to Maddy’s momentum and pacing for each race. She is always ready to set out at a steady speed before reeling in a bit prior to hitting that home stretch stride.

“At the beginning of the race, I stay back, but that first mile is the fastest for me, yet I make sure to not go out too fast,” Maddy says. “In the third mile, I stay back for a more comfortable pace before speeding up to pass people.”

In terms of her past on the dance floor and the transition to running, one hand washes the other for Maddy. She details that dance maneuvers contributed to her leg strength, which procured her ability to log many miles as a runner while gaining a personality to emerge as a leader.

“Dance has helped me gain more strength, along with endurance, which has helped me run faster and strengthen my balance,” says Maddy. “Dancing also helped me with my stretching before runs, and I have gained confidence from being on a team with dance to help me as a captain with cross country.”

In learning the Cougars’ culture more and more with each passing season, Maddy learned what it meant to really dig deep and unearth a new level of potential for the course.

“With the workouts, I wasn’t familiar with the fast-sprint workouts as a freshman,” Maddy says. “But as time went on, I definitely became more familiar with pushing myself to my limits to get through them. Cross country is a big team sport with cheering each other on, and it was different than any other team I’ve been on.”

In recapping the Cougars maintaining their throne atop the Shoreline Conference in 2023, Maddy maintains that while she was not on the main running roster, it meant the world to her to help keep H-K’s spirits upbeat with the ultimate payoff, despite some health issues within the ranks.

“Winning Shorelines again was an amazing experience. I was not part of the varsity team, but it was great to be part of the program and be a captain,” says Maddy. “We had girls injured during the dual-meet/regular season, but it was really an emotional experience to see it all come together at the right time and win Shorelines. The coaches also made it a major point to still be there at every meet for the team, even if you were injured.”

H-K cross country Head Coach Matt Diglio explains that Maddy’s legacy with the program will not be defined by minutes, seconds, or accolades, but more derived from her emotional and spiritual impact on it as a leader.

“In my over 20+ years of coaching, Maddy is an athlete who will be remembered long after she graduates from H-K,” says Diglio. “You won't find her name up on the All-State banners in the gym, or on the school record board, but Maddy will be remembered as one of the most positive, upbeat, encouraging athletes to come through our program. Maddy always has a smile on her face and positive attitude each and every day. She works hard and gives it her best effort, but more than that, she is always encouraging others to do the same. Maddy did an outstanding job as a leader, role model, and cheerleader for the rest of the team.”

Cohesion and coordination have become important pillars for Maddy as she closes the chapter of the cross country section of her Cougars’ tenure–cherishing the true acquaintances and keeping the lanes of language open, loud, and clear.

“A big lesson I learned was the importance of building connections with people,” Maddy says. “It is great to form lifelong friendships. I also learned that communication is huge on a team with anyone and everyone, whether it is your teammates or coaches, about practices and meets.”