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Cheney athlete inspires on track, court

It seems wherever she goes, Maddie Brown will find success in the end.

The Cheney High School senior runner will hope to bring the winning formula from the cross country and basketball teams she helped lead to the state meet and tournament level to the Blackhawk track team this spring.

“Her work ethic is unbelievable,” said Cheney girls head coach Tom Stralser. “She’s dependable. She was most inspirational last year in track and the last two years in cross country. These are awards voted on by her peers. She’s very conscientious and has a very high grade-point average. She’s doing Running Start as well as taking honors classes here. She exemplifies the well-rounded student athlete that we hope represents Cheney track and field. She’s pretty amazing.”

Brown will run the 800 meters, 1600 meters or even a 400 relay on occasion.

“We had to replace someone in the 4-by-400 last week, and we said, ‘Maddie, you need to run this race,’ ” Stralser said. “She said, ‘OK.’ She didn’t miss a beat. She’s run in those 4-by-4’s before in state-caliber relay teams, but nonetheless, coming right off of basketball, she didn’t have the legs that she would have had if she’d been out for the first three weeks of the season. She didn’t even blink. ‘You need me, OK. I’ll give you everything I’ve got.’ That’s just the kind of individual she is.”

With the Blackhawks’ run to the state basketball tournament, the senior guard fell behind the rest of the track team in preparation but found a way to close the gap through her basketball training.

“I signed up for weightlifting the whole year,” Brown said. “I feel quite a bit stronger. It’s important for basketball, because practices and games can be really physical. I think it helps for basketball a lot.”

“She’s been in the weight room since she was a freshman,” Stralser said. “If she’s not lifting in the weight room, she’s lifting at home. She’s one of those girls who has become really successful because of hard work. She doesn’t have blazing speed. She has such good conditioning, and she’s so much stronger than she was as a freshman or a sophomore that it’s a perfect example of what we call the result of the great equalizer. That’s what we coaches call the weight room.” Brown is also quick to credit former girls head coach Joan Hisaw, who now serves as an assistant on the team, with helping her improve as a runner.

“My coach, she’s really an amazing person,” Brown said. “She’s always telling us that one thing we have to have is patience and to have faith that we’ll end where we need to be. She definitely helps give us confidence. She’s probably one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. She motivates our team so much. She’s just awesome.” Brown, who will attend Western Washington University next year, may have fun on the track, but she also shows a competitive spirit that inspires her teammates.

“I don’t think I can think back and ever remember her missing a practice,” said Stralser. “It’s amazing. We wanted to give the basketball girls time off and there were a couple of them that said they didn’t want any time off, they wanted to start running again. Some of the girls needed some time off which is understandable after the run they made at the state tournament. We as coaches didn’t have a problem with that, but Maddie Brown is a different kid. She relishes being out and being part of the family. She showed up the day they got back from the state basketball tournament to practice. Nobody would have blinked if she wanted to take a couple days off. That just kind of shows you kind of what makes Maddie Brown who she is.

“She’s such a competitor that you know she’s going to give you everything she’s got,” Stralser continued. “She came into her first race of the season down at the Banana Belt (Invitational), and ran under 6 minutes without any distance training whatsoever. … We all should have such problems to deal with leaders and competitors like Maddie Brown.”