Jul. 6—WHITE PLAINS — Maddyn Conn's breakthrough freshman year in cross country and track will end in major recognition.
For winning the 1,600-meter run and 3,200 run at the Calhoun County meet in April and adding victories in both events at the Class 4A state meet, Conn is The Anniston Star's Calhoun County athlete of the year for girls track.
Conn also added a scoring sixth-place finish in the 800 at state, part of her 23-point output at Gulf Shores. She and senior teammate Anna Strickland, who won the 800 and took third in the 1,600 and 3,200 run, combined for 45 of White Plains' 60 points at state.
White Plains finished as the Class 4A state runner-up. The Wildcats led eventual state champion Brooks after the first day, which featured distance events.
That's how Conn ended a freshman year that also saw her win the county cross country meet. She also won sectional and took second at the state meet, finishing behind Bayside Academy's Annie Midyett by .54 of a second.
In track, she won indoor titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 then matched them in the outdoor season, at sectional and state.
Conn took a few minutes to participate in The Star's athlete-of-the-year Q&A:
Question: What was your expectation coming into your freshman year?
Answer: I knew eighth-grade year, I was doing good, and then freshman came up, and I just knew that I had left. I just wanted to try and do my best.
Q: When you won the county cross country meet as a freshman, what kind of confidence boost was that?
A: It gave me a lot of confidence for sectionals and state, but I knew I had a lot to live up and stuff.
Q: Then came the indoor season. What did it do for your confidence to become a state champion in two events?
A: One of the girls I was going against in my indoor, I think it was in the 1,600, beat me at state in cross country, and I really wanted indoor to be where I could come back and get her. It just gave me a lot of confidence at state when I finally got it done.
Q: You've had a mentor in teammate Anna Strickland, who won the 800 at state and has signed with Jacksonville State. What impact has she had on your career so far?
A: She's probably my biggest impact. She's helped me through all of these practices and just really has shown me how much fun running is and how fun we can make it. She's helped me to become a better runner overall. The first year I ran cross country, we became good friends, and then from that we started running, like, every day together.
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.