WPIAL Alum Q&A – Maddie Holmberg

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 | 9:50 AM

Maddie Holmberg was one of the most accomplished competitors in the history of WPIAL track and field during her time at Hempfield Area, winning more than a dozen gold medals between district and state competitions. Holmberg, now a standout for Penn State’s track and field team, is this week’s feature for the WPIAL Alum Q&A.

Holmberg was a four-year varsity letterwinner for the Spartans track and field team, including her freshman season in 2012. That year, she and the Lady Spartans captured the WPIAL team championship in Class AAA. Individually, Holmberg took first in the long jump, while finishing second in the 100-meter hurdles.

As a sophomore, Holmberg again tasted gold as part of the Spartans’ team championship, both in WPIAL and PIAA competition. She also claimed the top spot in the WPIAL for both 100 hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. In the state competition, she was a part of the Spartans 4×100-meter relay team that won gold.

Her junior year in 2014 was one for the ages, as Holmberg dominated the track in an array of events. Once again, she propelled the team to WPIAL and PIAA championships once again, and she took individual gold in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles, as well as the long jump and the 4×100 relay, establishing new WPIAL records for the latter two events. She continued her success in the PIAA finals, taking first in 300 hurdles, long jump and 4×100 relay.

Holmberg suffered a severe knee injury during volleyball season in her senior year, and was unable to compete in several track events as a result. Still, she ran for Hempfield, and helped the Spartans complete the four-peat for team competition.

In all, Holmberg won four WPIAL and two PIAA team championships, nine WPIAL gold medals, and four PIAA events. She also was named the 2014 PIAA Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. Furthermore, she was an All-WPIAL performer for Hempfield’s volleyball team.

Holmberg returned to the track in full capacity in 2015-16, as part of the Penn State team. As a freshman, she competed in six meets during the indoor season, recording four first-place finishes, and 24 top-10 finishes. The events she won included the long jump at the Penn State Relays, long jump and 60-meter hurdles at the Sykes and Sabock Challenge Cup, and long jump at the Fastrack National Invite. For the outdoor season, she competed in five meets, notching 14 top-10 finishes. At the Penn Relays, she took first in the long jump, 100-meter hurdles and 200 meters.

In her sophomore season, Holmberg has compiled a impressive slate of finishes. Although she did not participate in the indoor season while recovering from an injury, for the outdoor season, she finished first in the long jump in the Pac-12 vs Big Ten Invitational. Additionally, she was the top performer in shot put in in the Virginia Challenge, and also won the heptathlon at that meet, with a score of 5636, the third best mark in Nittany Lions’ history.

Maddie took time from her schedule to answer questions about her best events, overcoming injuries, and her fondest high-school memory.

Q: What are all of the different events you compete in for Penn State, and which do you feel are your strongest?

A: The heptathlon includes 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200 on day one, and long jump, javelin, and the 800 on day two. My strongest events are the 100 hurdles, long jump, and the 200, because those are the events I did in high school and have the most experience in. Despite becoming more competitive in the other events, these are the events I feel the most confident in and am able to score the most points in.

Q: Which collegiate meet has been your most memorable thus far, and why?

A: Many meets have been very memorable to me for different reasons. However, my favorite meet so far was the Virginia Challenge at UVA. There, I competed in the heptathlon for the first time since the previous outdoor Big 10 Championship. The weather was beautiful on the first day, and I had personal bests in all four of the events. The next day, it was cold and raining but I was still able to execute the skills I had been working on all season. I ended up winning the heptathlon and finally felt like I was able to perform to the level I am capable of. 

Q: What is the difference between the indoor season and the outdoor season?

A: During the indoor season, I compete in the pentathlon instead of the heptathlon. It excludes the javelin and the 200. 

Q: What is your training schedule like, both during season and in the offseason?

A: During the offseason, I lift three days a week at 6:30 a.m., followed by a throwing practice twice a week. In the afternoons, my training group (J-block) and I typically have difficult strength/endurance workouts, such as running repetitions, Beaver Stadium bleacher runs, or plyometric sand workouts. In October, our allowed hours of practice increase and I begin training for event work. When the season begins (spring semester), the morning lifts shift to afternoons. I typically stick to training for about two events per day. Coach Spence keeps practices efficient by having members of J-block practice at different times, since we all train for diverse events. As I become more skilled in my events, practices become shorter, because I do not have to complete as many repetitions in order to have a successful practice.

Q: What was key to overcoming the knee injury you suffered in your senior year of high school, as well as the meniscus injury you suffered last year?  

A: The key to overcoming my knee injury in high school and my other injuries was to trust in God’s plan for me. I had great support from my family, friends, coaches, teammates, and community. The key is to stay positive, persevere, and trust the process. I was forced to learn the true meaning of “the things you do while no one is watching are the things that define you”.

Q: How much of a benefit is it to have a former Hempfield teammate, Lexi Masterson, with you at Penn State?

A: Having familiar faces at Penn State definitely added another level of comfort for me, especially having Lexi on the team. In addition, being that Lexi is also a kinesiology major, she has helped me a lot academically, as well.

Q: Why did you decide to attend PSU?

A: My dad attended Penn State, along with playing football here; therefore, I grew up attending football games and visiting State College. I found that when I visited other universities, they simply could not match the environment and opportunities Penn State has to offer. Also, on my official visit, I found that the team unity was unmatched. The pride the team had in the school and the drive the team had to be successful was prominent. I also love that it is only two hours from my home in Greensburg. Penn State also has an excellent kinesiology program. 

Q: What is your major and ideal future profession?

A: My major is kinesiology movement science option. After graduating, I plan to attend graduate school and become a physician assistant. Ideally, I would like to pursue becoming an orthopedic physician assistant. 

Q: What has been your favorite class so far in college?

A: So far, my favorite class has been anatomy (Kinesiology 202). We learned and memorized just about every muscle and bone in the human body. It was also accompanied by a lab where we had practical exams and used models and human cadavers to enhance our learning. It was very interesting and helped me confirm the profession that I want to pursue. 

Q: Hempfield’s girls track and field team has been a dominant program for years. Why have the Spartans been so successful?

A: Put simply, the Hempfield girls track and field team does not like to lose. They know they have a reputation to uphold, and they understand that the only way to do that is to continually outwork other teams. The team is so fortunate to have a very invested, inspiring coaching staff, and I am so thankful to have come from such a driven program. 

Q: Your younger sister, Gabby, is now competing in track and field for Hempfield. What advice do you give her?

A: I am so proud of my younger sister. She is a very hard worker and a great leader. I always advise her to take advantage of the opportunity in the life time of the opportunity. High school track and field is so fun and goes by so fast. I just remind her to keep working hard, leave it all on the track every meet, and enjoy every moment of it.

Q: What was your fondest high-school memory?

A: My fondest high-school track memory was definitely the state championship meet in 2014. I won the 300 hurdles and long jump with personal bests, and we defended our title as 4×1 state champions. The relay consisted of two of my best friends, Bridget Guy and Jasmine Jones, and my sister. We also won the meet as a team. It was such a special weekend and such an incredible feeling to have all the hard work of the season pay off. 

Q: Do you use social media much, and if so, which app do you prefer?

A: The form of social media I use most is Instagram. I love being able to keep up with family and old friends and also share moments of my life with others.

Q: Who is your favorite professional athlete?

A: Growing up, I have always followed Lolo Jones, because she so driven and has a funny personality. I even got to meet her in Pittsburgh one time, and she signed by spikes that I used in high school. Recently, I have been following more heptathletes like Canadian Olympian Brianne Theison-Eaton. 

Q: What is a little-known fact about you, or a hidden talent you possess?

A: I love to draw. Since the time I was little, I have had many sketch books that I have filled. I use drawing as a way to relax and decompress. 


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