New Milford's Sweeney no longer under radar with nationally-ranked performances

New Milford's Maddie Sweeney runs in the the girls dual cross country meet against Pomperaug on Oct. 20 at New Milford High School.

New Milford’s Maddie Sweeney runs in the the girls dual cross country meet against Pomperaug on Oct. 20 at New Milford High School.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

It has been an under the radar breakout school year for New Milford runner Maddie Sweeney.

This past fall during the cross country season, the junior proved to be among the fastest runners in the SWC while helping lead New Milford to an undefeated season.

Unfortunately with no state-wide meets and being forced to miss the SWC championship after coming into contact with someone with COVID, Sweeney had an anticlimactic finish to her fall season.

After missing SWC’s Sweeney, like many other Connecticut runners, raced out of state at the cross country club championships and earned a 34th place finish, finishing the 5K in 19:05:10.

Now in the middle of the winter season with indoor track meets only beginning this week, runners once again have headed out of state for competition.

“I am a lot more confident right now, and that started in the fall,” Sweeney said. “In the last couple of weeks it has gone up even more.”

A large reason for Sweeney’s confidence boost was her performance at the Adidas Indoor Track and Field Nationals this past weekend.

Sweeney finished 6th in the girls 5000-meter race with a time of 17:29.22, besting the SWC indoor track record that has stood since 2010.

“I was originally going to the open 2-mile race but I ended up being able to get a spot in the 5K,” Sweeney said. “I had missed the qualifier for the 5K by three seconds but a spot opened up.”

Though she may not have originally qualified for the race, Sweeney proved she belonged with the fifth fastest indoor 5000m time in Connecticut history.

“It was amazing, throughout this winter I have been kind of stressing out about when I would be able to race again,” Sweeney said. “I’m so glad I was able to go down and race, so many people haven’t been able to.”

The race was Sweeney’s second of the winter, the first being the East Coast Invitational in early February. Sweeney placed 12th in the 2 Mile race with a time of 11:18.60.

“Without these two races, I wouldn’t really know what I am capable of,” Sweeney said. “When I used to go up against other Connecticut runners I would just think they were faster than me. I have realized now that I can keep up with them.”

Now brimming with confidence, Sweeney and her New Milford teammates will look to build upon their dominant fall once in-state competition resumes.