Maddy Price enjoyed a standout indoor track and field season at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. The Skowhegan graduate helped lead the Knights to the Northeast Conference championship. Contributed photo

Editor’s note: This is the third installment of our new series, “Catching Up With,” in which we reconnect with people we’ve written about over the last few decades.

It all happened so fast.

Farleigh Dickinson University (Teaneck, New Jersey) senior Maddy Price competed in the IC4A/ECAC Championship meet on March 7-8 in Boston, earning a bronze medal in the triple jump with a personal record jump of 40 feet, 9 inches. Price went home to Canaan to rest before returning to school to finish her final semester and the outdoor track and field season.

“Pretty much everything shut down that week,” said Price, a 2016 Skowhegan Area High School graduate.

As the Covid-19 crisis unfolded, things seemed to change by the minute. First, Fairleigh Dickinson asked non-athlete students not to return after break. Athletes were told they’d return to compete. That quickly changed, and Price was in the middle of a workout at a Skowhegan fitness center when she got the news that the spring season was canceled, and she could not even return to campus to get her stuff.

Maddy Price enjoyed a standout indoor track and field season at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. The Skowhegan graduate helped lead the Knights to the Northeast Conference championship. Contributed photo

“My heart just dropped. Our team has a group chat, and everyone was freaking out,” Price said.

The shutdown hasn’t been pleasant for any college athlete, and Price could make a case for being more frustrated than most. At the time everything vanished, she was competing at her highest level since enrolling at FDU after an outstanding high school track and field career at Skowhegan.

In February, Price dominated the Northeast Conference championship meet, winning individual titles in the 60 meters (7.64 seconds), the long jump (19-6.25), and the triple jump (40-6.75). Price also took fourth place in the 200, and her 35 points helped the Knights win their first conference title since 1999.

Price was named the meet’s Most Valuable Performer.

“Honestly, that was the best meet I’ve ever had,” Price said.

Sharlene Milwood-Lee, Fairleigh Dickinson’s head track and field coach, remembered the tears of joy Price shed as the Knights claimed their title.

“I was so incredibly proud of who she became at this meet. To see her hard work pay off,” Milwood-Lee said. “She did what we knew she’s capable of since we brought her in.”

It took overcoming the culture shock that comes from moving from Canaan to Teaneck, N.J., just outside New York City, along with rebuilding her jumping and sprinting form to help Price live up to the potential that the FDU track and field coaching staff saw.

“The New Jersey and New York track scene was a huge shock. Everything was new to me. Getting comfortable was a big part of the first, and even second, year,” Price said. “It was very hard the first semester. It was overwhelming with all the new people. Over time, you get used to it. Something that helped me was, everybody is new. I wasn’t alone in the situation.”

Added Milwood-Lee: “She did seem a little homesick at the beginning, unsure of herself. She adjusted great.”

As a Skowhegan senior, Price was one of Maine’s top high school track and field athletes, winning Class A indoor championships in the 55 meters and triple jump. Price added an outdoor triple jump state crown in the spring. To build on that success as a Division I collegiate athlete, Price had to get stronger, and rebuild her form to account for that new strength.

Milwood-Lee noticed Price’s dedication in the weight room, and her eagerness to work with assistant coach Leroy Solomon to get better, particularly in her jumping events.

“She got stronger, and her stride pattern had to change with that,” Milwood-Lee said. “In order for her to be a better jumper, she had to get down the runway faster… She was willing to listen. She bought into what we were trying to do.”

Price said the work on her stride made her a better sprinter.

Maddy Price enjoyed a standout indoor track and field season at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. The Skowhegan graduate helped lead the Knights to the Northeast Conference championship. She also set the program record in the long jump. Contributed photo

“My strides were too long. I sprinted like I was running the 400. I did the 400 and did not do well,” Price said. “It took about two years to drop my times.”

At first, Price’s improvement was gradual. As a sophomore at the 2018 Northeast Conference indoor championship meet, Price placed seventh in the triple jump with a jump of 36-10.5, a jump that was five inches shorter than her jump to win the Class A state outdoor title two years earlier.

It began to click for Price as a junior. Helping the Knights to conference runner-up at the indoor championship, Price won the triple jump with a jump of 40-5.5.

“Her confidence has skyrocketed,” Milwood-Lee said.

Price learned to use her talent to compete strategically. For example, at the Northeast Conference championship in February, Price and her coaches knew they needed to keep her fresh in order to maximize her points as the Knights contended for the title (FDU finished with 109 points, 12 more than second place Mount St. Mary’s). The top seed in the long jump, Price knew she could win it with one strong jump. Her first and only jump put the competition out of reach, and although Price would’ve liked to try for a better jump, she knew with the event won, her energy was needed elsewhere.

Milwood-Lee doesn’t want to play What If, but still, with the spring season lost, what if? What if Price had the chance to compete? What could she have accomplished?

“I think Maddy could’ve and would’ve been a conference champion in a minimum of four events, a maximum of five including a relay,” Milwood-Lee said. “At the indoor meet she was seeded first and finished fourth (0.27 seconds behind the winner). We knew what adjustments we had to make.”

Price could return next spring for another crack at an outdoor season. The NCAA granted athletes who lost this spring another year of eligibility. Price is set to graduate with a degree in Hospitality Management in May. As of now, she’s unsure if she’d want to return to school and pursue a Master’s degree.

“I’m up in the air about taking advantage of that,” Price said. “For four years, everything has to revolve around your sport. The adjustment has been strange. I went from being busy all the time to having all sorts of free time.”

Milwood-Lee would love to have Price back for one more season, obviously, but will apply no pressure. Returning to school for a fifth year isn’t for everybody, Milwood-Lee said.

“If there’s some doubt, it’s OK. I know whatever she does, she’ll do great,” Milwood-Lee said.

If her track and field career is complete, Price knows she worked hard and went out on top. If Price decides it’s not over and goes back to FDU, she knows she’s ready for the next challenge.

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