Maria Maldonado can run a 60-meter sprint faster than any runner in Goshen College history. She also holds the GC record for the 200-meter dash in both indoor and outdoor track. A sophomore who moved to Goshen from Venezuela three years ago, Maldonado is determined not to stop there.Maldonado found her love for track at age 13, following in the steps of her father and uncle who both had a gift for running.
When she was young, an olympic coach told Maldonado she had the potential to be a great runner; she hasn’t looked back since.
“I was like, ‘you know, I’m gonna give it a try… and see, how fast [I am,]’” Maldonado remembers thinking.
What she loves about track is the feeling she gets during a race. “Every time I race I feel free,” she said. “Nothing can stop me.”
Due to the political crisis in Venezuela, Maldonado moved to Goshen during her senior year of high school in search of greater opportunities.
“When I came to Goshen, I was like, ‘what should I do, where should I go?’” said Maldonado. “I heard about Goshen College and I came here to talk to the [track] coach.”
While Maldonado attended Goshen High School her first year in Goshen, when she met Rustin Nyce, the head coach for track and field at Goshen College, he told her he believed she had the potential to compete at the collegiate level.
“One thing I really like about Goshen College is the people,” said Maldonado. “When I came here… everyone was happy to meet me and practice with me.”
Maldonado competes in the 60-, 100- and 200-meter distances. “Her races indoor only last between 7 and 26 seconds, but that is only a very small portion of what she does to get to the level she is at,” Nyce said. “It takes a serious level of commitment to achieve what she has.”
A business major, Maldonado doesn’t have too much trouble balancing track and school because she enjoys her classes and has always ran track. But she does miss her extended family in Venezuela.
“It is tough… I miss my grandma, my cousins [and] my aunts, but it’s good to have my [close] family here… my dad and my mom are here with me,” said Maldonado. “It’s tough but I can handle it.”
At the meet this past Saturday, Maldonado won the 60-meter preliminaries and placed first in her heat for the 200-meter.
“I felt good in the sense of getting back on track,” the sophomore said, “but I know I would like to achieve more.”
Although Maldonado is happy with her performance on Saturday, she continues to move forward towards her long-term goals. She hopes to make it to nationals this year as well as improve on her school records.