PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles’ Maddie Dougherty was quietly one of the best distance runners in the history of Port Angeles High School.
Along with her teammate Gracie Long, Dougherty made up a dominating one-two punch in the distance events for four years for the Roughriders. Her accomplishments, including a top 10 finish at state in the 3,200 and and the third-fastest 1,600 time in the history of the school, got the attention of Central Washington University.
Surrounded by her teammates, family and coaches, Dougherty signed her letter of intent Wednesday to run track for the Wildcats next year.
Look at her results this year: one first-place finish and two second-place finishes in the 800 meters, two firsts and three seconds in the 1,600, three firsts and three seconds in the 3,200, five firsts in the 4×400 relay. That tallies up to 11 first-place finishes and eight second-place finishes on the season. And most of those second-place finishes were to Long.
Add to that a 10th-place finish in the 3,200, an 11th in the 1,600 and an 11th in the 4x4oo at state.
“Extremely happy for this adventure you’re going to go on. Please continue to connect with us,” said Port Angeles Athletic Director Dwayne Johnson.
Johnson said he gives this advice to all students signing letters of intent such as Doughtery to “go out and conquer the world.”
Teammates and coaches told of how hard Dougherty worked. She was described as “always having mud up to her knees” from being out running.
Her head coach Bob Sheedy said it wasn’t an accident where Dougherty showed up. He said she was always in early to work on the X-fit equipment, even during the summer.
“She worked hard to get here. That takes dedications and perseverance,” Sheedy said.
Girls cross country coach Cheryl Gerardi said that when Dougherty first arrived at track as a freshman, she was “timid and shy .. but she also knew what she was doing.” She said.
“She’s an extremely hard worker,” Gerardi said. “She didn’t have the talent initially, but [hard work] is how it got you where you are now.”
As far as finishing with the third-best 1,600 in the history of Port Angeles High School, “that made my hard work over the winter worth it,” Dougherty said.
Her and Long often ran in tandem this year in the 1,600 and 3,200 races, pacing each other. Dougherty said they would run close enough that they would literally talk to each other during the races. Dougherty said Long being right nearby in many of her races was a huge help to her during her career.
“It takes away from the pain” having someone nearby to pace with and talk to, she said.
Dougherty and Long, the two senior leaders for the Roughriders’ deep class of girls’ distance runners that helped Port Angeles finish ninth as a team in the state this year, will both run track in college. Long will be running track at Corban College in Salem, Ore.