As a sophomore, Maiya Dendy has established herself as the state’s fleetest sprinter, with national potential and the strength to withstand the gauntlet of heats in a championship meet.
She swept three state championships in the short courses, anchored the winning mile relay, ran the fastest 200-meter in Delaware history and was named the state’s outstanding indoor track athlete after leading Padua Academy to the state championship
Her 40-point performance was the difference in the state meet. Without her, Padua was strong enough to finish in second place. With her talent and effervescence, the Pandas have developed statewide dominance and a culture to make it last.
“She’s a charismatic person. She comes with her own type of energy,” said coach Marnie Giunta.
“The teammates are drawn to her. She is fun. As intense as she is a competitor, she is fun and playful on the outside, too,” said Giunta, the state’s coach of the year. “We have a big sisterhood here, and Maiya’s a part of that camaraderie.”
At the indoor state meet in February, Dendy won the 55 meters in 7.07 seconds, the fastest ever by a Delaware sophomore, then won the 200 and 400, each in the sixth fastest time in state history, to become the first girl since Glasgow’s Jernail Hayes in 2005 to sweep the three events. She punctuated the day by overtaking Smyrna’s talented Raven Luckett to win a thrilling mile relay.
Three weeks ago, Dendy burst onto the national scene at the New Balance Nationals at the New York Armory. She ran the fastest indoor 200 meters (24.68) ever by a Delaware girl, set a personal record in the 400 (57.38) and made the semifinals in the 60, going 7.67, second to Christiana’s Danielle Bailey in state history.
“My main focus was in the 60. I thought I had a better chance in that. I went in thinking, ‘I’m a sophomore. I just have to do my best,’ ” said Dendy. “I think I accomplished that goal.”
That same weekend, her brother, Marquis, a sophomore at University of Florida, won the NCAA indoor long jump championship, leaping 27 feet, 2 inches, and finished fourth in the triple jump (53 feet, 2 inches).
For a top sprinter, a championship meet can become a marathon, especially when her team is in title contention. Effort must be rationed among many heats and four events.
As a freshman, Dendy was kept to just two open events at the indoor state meet, winning the 200.
Last spring, she undertook a veteran’s load, winning the 100 and 200 in the county meet, with a second in the 400 plus mile relay points to give Padua the winning margin. An irritated hamstring reduced her output in the state meet. She was state 200-meter champion, but scratched after running the fastest 100-meter qualifying time and was held out of the relays. Padua managed to win the Division II title with just six relay points.
The state’s most dominating sprinter spent the fall as manager of her school’s cross-country team, often joining in workouts with the Division I champions as she built her own base for the upcoming sprint seasons.
“I just like to help out my team however I can,” Dendy said.