By Will LeBlond
For Trumansburg running phenom Molly MacQueen, her journey to become an elite level talent happened fast and unconventionally.
The freshman at Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg did not grow up as a runner. In fact, she was not drawn into the running scene until 6th grade, when her classmate Ginny Clifford enticed her to start recreationally.
Then, during 7th grade, she started to run competitively at the modified level and she absolutely tore it up with Clifford and a solid Trumansburg team. Eighth grade is when MacQueen broke through with the varsity cross country and outdoor track teams, and began to rack up records and championships.
“It was really exciting,” said MacQueen. “I think I’m lucky to have known Ginny and to get into that training a little bit before, so we already had a bit of a background. And I have a ton of great teammates on the team that helped me get more comfortable.”
Running against competition that was 4-5 years older in some cases, she won both the IAC and Class D Section IV Championship during the cross country season. MacQueen fondly remembers competing against Sammy Watson, who would go on to compete at the United State Olympic Track Trials. But the freshman has learned what to block out once the competition is underway.
“It’s really exciting to run against those people, but I try to forget how amazing they are during the race,” said MacQueen. “And I just try to think of them as any other competitor.”
A lot of elite level runners run during all three seasons to reach their level of dominance, but MacQueen has taken a different approach. During the winter season, she did not compete for the Trumansburg Indoor Track and Field team; instead she traveled to Syracuse to play on a Tier I ice hockey team.
The physical sport has added another layer to her running ability, according to Bryce DeSantis, the Trumansburg girls cross country and track coach.
“I think that’s a big component of her success,” said DeSantis. “She has this other sport that is not typical of other distance runners.”
In the couple of decades that DeSantis has coached at Trumansburg, MacQueen is the only ice hockey player that he has ever coached. While an athlete playing that sport and running track is new to him, he has seen similar types of athletes come through his program.
“Molly is a unique kid, she’s very determined as most of my really good athletes have been, and she’s very academic,” said DeSantis. “She went from a really good modified runner in her seventh grade year, to an elite level varsity runner in her ninth grade year.”
MacQueen will look to continue to dominate at the Class D level throughout the rest of the spring season, but she will be on the move to a new destination for the 2017-18 school year. After weighing her options, she has decided to transfer to Andover Academy in Massachusetts to continue on with both running and hockey.
“It’ll be super sad to leave the program here,” said MacQueen. “It’s been so awesome for me, but I’m really excited to get to Andover and see where I am running wise with going into a new team.”
With prep school looming for next year, she wants to leave a lasting mark in Trumansburg during her concluding year. She is already the holder of the school’s 3,000-meter record and would like to take a few seconds off of it. And her final conquest is to break the school’s mark in the 1,500-meter race.
“She’s got a huge ceiling,” said DeSantis. “It’s bittersweet to see her go.”