Sprinting joins 'Cane's hoop dreams

Madison McNary is undefeated in the 100 and 200 and has the top-seeded times in both events in her classification.

Published May 4, 2007

PALM HARBOR - Madison McNary waited calmly in the blocks, ready to run the 100 meters.

At the start, the Palm Harbor University junior accelerated powerfully, finding some propulsive internal gear and finished first in a searing 11.92 seconds at last week's regional.

She wasn't finished.

In the 200, she blasted out of the blocks when the gun sounded, simultaneously, it seemed. When McNary crossed the finish line 24.51 seconds later, she not only had beaten the field, but her personal best.

In winning so formidably, McNary is considered one of the favorites to win both events at Saturday's Class 4A state meet at Showalter Field in Winter Park.

McNary is undefeated in the 100 and 200 and has the top-seeded times in both events in her classification.

"I knew my times were up there at the region meet, " McNary said. "Now my goal is to win state titles in the 100 and 200."

It wasn't always this way. For years, McNary's sprinting was confined to the fastbreak on the basketball court. When she ran track as a freshman, she never thought about winning medals or breaking records.

Her main goal was to stay in shape for basketball season.

That all changed after McNary watched her older sister, Lauren, go from basketball standout to track star and earn a scholarship to Howard.

"My sister really inspired me, " McNary said.

McNary isn't ready to completely give up basketball to chase her dreams of immortality on the track. She still is a guard with the Hurricanes and helped lead her team to the region quarterfinals.

The two sports are now conjoined passions. Once her basketball season ended in February, McNary was back on track, training with an eye toward possible state titles in the 100 and 200.

She goes to Orlando twice a week to train with her speed coach, Brook Johnson.

Johnson helps McNary work harder, to push the extra inch - an important trait in a sport in which fractions of a second define everything.

"We do a lot of things to strengthen my legs, " McNary said. "(Johnson) also has me on what he calls 'the rainbow diet.' I'm only allowed to eat greens and yellows, the colors in the rainbow."

The work has paid off. McNary ran in the 100 in 11.8 at the conference meet last month. Her time qualifies for the USA Junior Nationals in June. She is 0.11 seconds from qualifying in the 200.

"The big thing for me is trying to lower my times and hopefully win, " McNary said.

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4169.

Fast Facts:

State track

Admission: $8.

Format: Field events start at 1 p.m., running finals at 7. Trophies go to the team champion and runnerup. Medallions are awarded to the top eight individuals and relay teams.

Where: Showalter Field, Winter Park

When: Class 3A, today; Class 4A, Saturday