By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- Thomas Madden had a very tough decision to make.
The Skyline senior had three very good cross country and track schools looking at him, but he could only choose one to run at for the next four years. Madden chose the one that was closest to home -- the University of Virginia.
On Wednesday he made it official by signing his letter of intent to run for the next four years for the Cavaliers.
"U.Va. just felt like it was the best place for me to succeed," Madden said. "All the coaching staff and the team there were really dedicated, and wanted to do really well. I feel like I will fit right in with them.
"I just want to do really well and get better too. Being around them just seems like it would breed success."
Madden also was looking at N.C. State and the University of Wisconsin, and said he was really back and forth about where to go, but thought long and hard about it.
"My parents have been supportive and my coach too throughout the whole process," Madden said. "I prayed about it too."
Madden has had plenty of success in both cross country and track. He won the Group AA state championship in cross country as a junior, and he also won the 3,200 last year in track.
Madden said he took a visit to U.Va. on Sept. 14-15 and then visited N.C. State and Wisconsin after that.
In December, he decided to go with U.Va.
"I just saw the dedication and wanting to get better from everyone -- the coaching staff as much as the kids, just the whole group," Madden said. "I just want to be a part of that."
The Cavaliers finished eighth in the NCAA championships in cross country this past season, and were second in the ACC. They finished fourth in the ACC in indoor track last year, and third in the conference in outdoor track.
Madden said he likes the fact that he will be running with and against such great competition.
"I love the competition," Madden said. "It's great. It makes us run faster.
"They have a strong team, and had a strong recruiting class last year. And this year again, I think. It will be a strong team next year. And I'm excited to be a part of it."
It's not the first U.Va signee that Skyline coach Mike Tanner has coached. He also coached former Warren County standout Emily Harrison, who had an excellent career with the Cavaliers.
Tanner said he thinks Madden will have a great college career, because of his dedication to the sport.
"Whatever he does, he's all-in," Tanner said. "He's going to put everything in, as he does now. Not just with the running, but with his diet, the training, the weight room stuff. He's all in. He's not going to let himself fail, academically as well. Everything he does, he's excelled at so far.
"I think he'll just be a really dedicated runner and student."
Madden is currently focusing on finishing his indoor track season on a high note, with regionals and states just around the corner.
He said it's a great feeling to know that he's going to be running with U.Va. next year.
"I'm really blessed, even to be able to run, really," Madden said. "I just enjoy running, so all this other stuff is just a bonus. It's truly a blessing."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com