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Girls Track and Field: Joinnides wants to savor final season

Slow down.

That sounds like an odd approach for a track and field runner, but that is exactly what Maddie Joinnides wants to do this season — off the track, of course.

Joinnides, a senior at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School, has played varsity soccer for the Monarchs for four years, run winter track for five seasons and is in her fifth year on the school’s spring track team. Similar to the way Joinnides runs, time has flown by. All the more reason why she wants to relish this final high school season before moving on to college.

“I’d just like to take it all in and embrace it and enjoy every second of it,” Joinnides said after Thursday’s practice. “I think it’s great to just slow down and take a minute and appreciate everything that’s going on because really, these six years that I have been here have gone by so fast.”

The busy Joinnides has accomplished a lot, in and outside of sports. Academically, she carries a weighted 97 average. She is also the editor of the school paper, The Monarch Spark. But Joinnides is especially proud of her charity work. When she was a sixth-grader she co-founded a non-profit charity with friends. The charity, Four Girls for Families, provides water filters for families in Cambodia.

“Seventy-five percent of the deaths there are from dirty drinking water,” Joinnides said. “So, we’ve bought over 3,000 and hand delivered 3,000 water filters for families in Cambia. They take out 99.99 percent of the bacteria in the water so it’s safe to drink.”

The charity has expanded. “We’ve built three houses,” Joinnides said. “We recently just built a school, which I visited personally with the girls this February. We’ve dug over 20 wells.”

As for herself, Joinnides is coming off an indoor season in which she had to deal with shin splints.

“That’s the first time I had shin splints in my whole running career,” she said. “I guess I’m pretty lucky because I know it’s pretty common, but yeah, that was my first time learning how to deal with it and it took a long time to overcome and fully recover. I think that hindered my season and my times. Now I’m feeling good. I’m looking forward to the [spring] season.”

Joinnides’ primary event is the 800 meters, which she has run in as fast as 2 minutes, 17 seconds. She was a member — along with Olivia Kneski, Kait Butterfield and Meg Tuthill — of a 4×800 relay team that took ninth in a national meet last year.

Mercy’s new coach, Zach Zieniewicz, has been impressed by Joinnides’ long stride.

“It seems like she’s a gazelle,” he said. “It comes so naturally and so smooth.”

Joinnides said she wants to run in college, but hasn’t selected a school yet.

“This is like the final, last time I’ll ever be performing at Mercy and it’s pretty crazy,” she said. “I’m excited to see what college brings, but it’s also very sad because it’s been my home for six years and everyone’s been so nice here and so supportive. Yeah, it’s definitely going to be sad to leave.”

It sounds like she isn’t in a rush.

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Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Maddie Joinnides keeps busy on and off the track. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)