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All moves now on the track

By IZZY GOULD
Published February 28, 2007


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NEW PORT RICHEY - Her bright smile and powerful kick shine as she bursts through the final curve of this 400-meter sprint.

Once chasing the pack, Ridgewood junior Dalia Madison gains on the leader as the runners head home. Veteran Ridgewood coach Sue Vien glances at her stopwatch and shouts times as the girls gasp past the finish.

Madison sails across as Vien yells out one minute, four seconds. That's good for second and a spot on the 4x400 relay team of the Rams, who open the season today at a quad meet hosted by Gulf.

"What makes her special?" Vien said. "God has given her the gift of being above average in height, with muscles, a lot of spring and most of all a big heart."

The confident 5-foot-9 sprinter and jumper is ready to take on the county after two seasons of quiet improvement while earning a handful of secondary honors.

She won the Class 3A, District 7 long jump in 5 feet, 11 inches. This season she'll compete in the long and triple jumps, 4x400 and 200-meter dash.

Madison's bloodlines flow from the Southern California town of Lancaster, wedged north of Los Angeles beyond the mountains where most of her family still resides.

Her parents split when she was 2, and Madison, her mother and four siblings made a series of moves during her childhood from Delaware and Georgia before landing in Florida.

Madison went to Gulf Middle before her family moved to a house inside the Ridgewood school district. She began classes there as a freshman.

Vien almost missed out on one of her most talented athletes.

"At first I hated it," Madison said of Ridgewood. "I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to play sports. I didn't want to make friends. I had a neighbor who got me into playing basketball."

Madison averaged 5.5 points and 6.3 rebounds this season before injuring her left knee in a 58-38 loss Jan. 18 at Mitchell, knocking her out for three weeks.

"It's been iffy running," Madison said of the knee. "I hope it's getting better. I've been icing it every day. I think it's getting somewhat better."

Madison has a contingency plan if the track career succumbs to injury. And no, it's not testing video games even though she loves playing The Need for Speed and NBA 2K series.

Madison has always been enchanted by veterinary medicine. She has two cats and a dog and, for the record, has never attempted to operate on any of them. She bathed her new cat, Pegasus, for the first time Monday. Her oldest cat is Destiny. And the dog is Snoop.

"Ever since I was little I've always loved animals," Madison said. "I always wanted to help them out."

As far as friends are concerned, Madison had at least two approach her during this interview, offering how great an athlete and person she is.

"She is the best person," Rams teammate Porcha Kirdy said. "She strives for whatever she wants. She pretty much gets it."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or 813 909-4619.

[Last modified February 28, 2007, 00:16:41]


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