Cross Country

Running unattached in high school preps Madeleine Davison for freshman year at Syracuse

Courtesy of SU Athletics

Madeleine Davison is looking to get back on track with the NCAA Regional race on Friday. She started the season as Syracuse's top finisher in its first three races, but has recently gone through a slump.

UPDATED: Nov. 17 at 3:38 p.m.

Madeleine Davison had reached a point where she was not pushed enough by her opponents. She was one of the best runners in her region and she needed tougher competition.

In Davison’s senior year of high school, she chose to run unattached, meaning she did not compete for North Allegheny (Pennsylvania) High School. Instead, she ran in open collegiate races, giving her the opportunity to run against better, college-level runners.

“I ran in college meets and races,” Davison said. “I think it helped me prepare for college running a bit more.”

Syracuse’s first three races of this season — her freshman year at Syracuse — Davison, who is a contributing writer for The Daily Orange, was the Orange’s top finisher.

Following the trio of runs, Davison struggled at the Wisconsin Invitational, only finishing as the seventh Syracuse runner. But two weekends ago, she was the fourth Syracuse runner to cross the finish line at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships. Now on the upswing heading into Friday’s NCAA Regional, Syracuse is counting on Davison getting back to leading the Orange.

“This season has had some ups and downs for her,” junior runner Mary Malone said. “I think she’s resilient enough to learn from it and come back.”

Much of Davison’s preparation stems from the coaching she received at the high school level. Beginning her sophomore year, Davison began to have her workouts planned by an outside coach, separate from her high school. But she still wasn’t sure how she would fit in at Syracuse.

Syracuse head coach Chris Fox was impressed by Davison’s participation and success in the collegiate meets she ran in during her senior year of high school. In his recruitment of Davison, Fox gained confidence in the runner that he was bringing in as he watched her compete well at a collegiate level.

Both Malone and Fox mentioned Davison’s intelligence as a key attribute. She missed one question on her SAT, Fox said.

“We had high expectations for her,” Fox added.

Malone attended a rival high school to Davison’s, and they often spent time training together. Davison felt more comfortable running at Syracuse because there was already a familiar face on the team.

“I knew coming in that she was incredibly talented,” Malone said. “I knew she would come in (and contribute) right away.”

Being a strong runner as a freshman and usually finding herself in Syracuse’s top five runners (only five runners score points each race), Davison is already an important piece to the team.

Depending on the results of the NCAA Regionals on Nov.11, Davison’s freshman season could soon be over. She’s set the groundwork for what Fox thinks will be a successful running career at SU.

“I think she’ll be an all-ACC performer,” Fox said. “She (can be) a top three (runner) in our conference, and an All-American in cross country.”

CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this article, Madeleine Davison’s relationship with The Daily Orange was unclear. Davison is a contributing writer for The D.O.

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