Maddie Conway didn't expect to have the kind of success in cross country, swimming and track as a freshman. KYLE LOJACONO
BY KYLE LOJACONO Tribune correspondent
Published: July 30, 2013
Updated: July 30, 2013 at 10:57 PM
WESLEY CHAPEL - Maddie Conway likes to stay busy. The Wiregrass Ranch High sophomore has spent seven hours each day this summer in the pool at the New Tampa YMCA or running trails and roadways around Wesley Chapel. Her three-a-days start at 6:30 a.m. when she wakes up and heads to the pool, returns to the YMCA for a workout or another swimming session at 2:30 p.m. and finishes by training with the Bulls cross country team after dinner. "I like doing many things," Conway said. "It keeps me moving and keeps me from getting bored."
Conway has high expectations after her breakout freshman year. She helped Wiregrass cross country win its fifth straight conference and district titles last season and finish sixth at the Class 3A state meet. Conway placed 78th on the 5-kilometer course. Conway also earned a state berth in the 1,600-meter race during track and field season and added three individual regional appearances for swimming. This from someone transitioning to high school while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and playing club volleyball. "Hardest thing was just maintaining everything," said Conway, who will likely stop playing volleyball this fall. "It took a lot of planning to stay up on all my school work and make it to all my practices. I would have to choose which practices to go to because I could not do all three each day." Conway was first drawn to the pool at age 9. She picked up running as a seventh-grader at John Long Middle, where she caught the attention of Bulls cross country coach Don Howard. "It wasn't so much the time I saw but the fact that she was always running up front," Howard said. "I was just worried she was going to pick swimming. We organized it in such a way that she missed a couple practices with us each week to swim, and last year the swimming coach did the same. Even though training cross country and swimming complement each other, I still think it's hard to manage. The fact that she could do what she did as a freshman is impressive." Conway was more passionate about swimming when she entered high school. She competes year round for the Tampa YMCA swimming club, but her freshman year made the two activities "50-50" to in terms of importance. "I still feel more natural swimming and I'm more nervous before running because I'm newer at it, but I love doing them both," Conway said. Conway's goal is to cut her personal record in a 5K from 20 minutes to under 19, while getting to states in cross country, swimming and track this year. "I don't really feel any pressure," Conway said. "I just want the next year to start so I can see how far I've progressed." Howard said they will need to rely more on Conway this fall as his squad looks to replace four of its top seven runners, but Howard also doesn't doubt Conway's potential. "She's a phenomenal athlete, and she takes care of herself," Howard said. "She's got a great family and everyone seems to know what's best for her, and that makes me think that she has a great future." Correspondent Kyle LoJacono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Kyle_LoJacono.