Prep of the Year Honorable Mention: Maddie Buck

Maddie Sofnas

Committed to Hamilton College, Maddie Buck is excited to continue her track career. (Photo by Lauren Poulin)

Whether it’s defending the goal in soccer, running a 5k in cross country or sprinting her way to victory in the 400-meter dash for track and field, senior Maddie Buck can do it all. The triple-sport varsity athlete committed to Hamilton College in October for track and field with only four years of prior experience in competitive running. While soccer was her primary sport going into high school, she quickly found her love for racing.

“I started running cross country to get in shape for soccer because I really wanted to make the [junior varsity] soccer team my freshman year. … After the season, I realized I really enjoyed cross country, as I loved the fitness it gave me. So I decided to do track in the spring because it was good [training] for soccer,” Buck said. 

Buck continued practicing regularly, aiming to be noticed by college coaches. However, she found the process of soccer recruitment challenging and proceeded to focus on being recruited for track instead.

“Getting recruited for track was really easy because I had also been going through the soccer recruitment process. It’s a lot more difficult to get recruited for soccer because you have to organize the college coming to see you play. With track, all you really need to do is send them your running times,” Buck said.

Senior Maddie Buck prepares to throw the ball in from the sidelines. (Photo courtesy of Maddie Buck)

The recruitment process also allowed Buck to figure out the qualities she desired in a school. This aspect helped her when researching colleges and later when it came to her commitment decision.

“I wanted a school that had a balance of [academics], sports and fun. I was looking in the New England Small College Athletic Conference and eventually found Hamilton [College], which I really loved. I reached out to the track coach and sent my times, and he just said, ‘Okay, come here,’” Buck said. 

While the track and field recruitment process may have seemed easy for Buck, her success was largely due to immense improvement over her four years. Her cross country and track and field coach, Nicole Graydon, has helped her focus on events in order for her to be successful. 

 “[Buck] is a great distance runner, a great sprinter and a great jumper. It’s really hard to be all three. Her improvement has come from building a solid base in cross country and her ability to kick and pull off strong finishes at the end of a race. Then, soccer has helped her transition to sprints. Her track improvement really skyrocketed when we had her focus on her 400, 4×400, long jump and triple jump. [Buck] has an incredible work ethic, [and] she’s a great example of dedication. She wants to win for her team,” Graydon said. 

With Buck’s competitive drive, she was able to help win the 2023 Marin County Athletic League this year in the 4×400 relay. Buck gave credit to her teammates for motivating her to push through one of the hardest races. 

Lining up at the starting line, Maddie Buck prepares to run the 400-meter dash. (Photo courtesy of Maddie Buck)

“The 400 is one of the most notoriously difficult and painful events in track and field. It’s too long to be an all-out sprint and too short to be a distance race, so it’s brutal. I have to stay motivated. It has tested my mental toughness, and I’ve been able to improve a lot over the years,” Buck said.

At the end of the day, Buck will take everything she has learned from being on the team into the start of her college career. 

“There will be hard moments in track meets where I’m working really hard and get really tired. The biggest thing I have to remember is that it’s for a team that’s bigger than just me. I run for my teammates, play for my teammates and work hard for my teammates. I really learned to appreciate my team, especially because they’re the ones that motivate me to do more. That’s how I’ve been successful, and it’s definitely something that I’ll take into college,” Buck said.