Libby McMahon, a senior at West Hartford’s Conard High School, has committed to running at Yale University.
By Ronni Newton
Libby McMahon has made it official; she will become a Bulldog.
McMahon signed her Likely Letter during a ceremony Monday in the Conard High School gym, and will realize her dream of going to Yale and running for the Bulldog’s indoor and outdoor track team next year.
Yale’s track and field program competes at the Division I level, but as an Ivy League School utilizes a Likely Letter rather than the National Letter of Intent.
“I’ve always loved the school,” McMahon said after the ceremony.
She first set foot in the Yale’s indoor track facility, Coxe Cage, when she was in fifth grade and her older brother Ben was running in a meet for Conard. She told her mother back then that she wanted to go to Yale, but said she really fell in love with the facility, and the school, when she ran in her first invitational as a Conard freshman.
McMahon said her love of running began at Duffy Elementary School, and she still holds a few school records there. She said she had a great race at the town wide track and field meet as a fifth-grader, but when she moved on to middle school she focused more on another sport at which she excelled – gymnastics.
As a Conard freshman, McMahon chose diving for her fall sport, putting her gymnastics skills to great use. Picking a winter sport, choosing between gymnastics and indoor track, was tough.
“For my freshman winter season I picked indoor track,” McMahon said.
The rest is history – literally – because McMahon has had great success and set numerous school records in both indoor and outdoor track.
In March 2017, McMahon finished fifth in New England in the 300m, setting a school record of 41.20. In May 2017, she set a new Conard record of 56.88 in the 400m at the Greater Hartford Invitational. In both cases, she broke her own school records.
At the same time as she has focused on her speed, with her goal of heading to the Ivy League McMahon has also kept a razor focus on academics. She said that other schools she considered include Brown, Dartmouth, and Bowdoin.
“I could not be more proud,” Athletic Director Jason Siegal said at Monday’s ceremony. “To balance academics and athletics, and to do that at Yale, is very impressive.”
Track coach Steve Chase praised McMahon’s natural talent, and how hard she has worked for the past three years. He said being recruited for Yale is one of what will likely be a long list of accomplishments and successes.
“What makes this so very remarkable is that this has been Libby’s dream for years, running for Yale,” Chase said. “Watching her every day, every workout, every meet, it’s been one of the most inspirational things I’ve seen in my five years of coaching here.”
Coach John Provencher echoed Chase’s comments. “Her work ethic, every race, every practice is an unmatched focus and commitment to achieve her goals.”
“She’s a role model on the track and in the classroom,” Coach James Redman added.
McMahon isn’t sure what she will study at Yale, listing biology, architecture, and anthropology as possible options. She said she’s very excited to get to know her track teammates, who come from all over the world, including Jordan’s national champion.
McMahon is one of the indoor track captains, and the upcoming season kicked off with a meeting that directly followed the signing. McMahon said her personal goal for the winter will be to break 41.0 in the 300m. “I’ve gotten really close,” she said. Looking ahead to the spring, she said she’s dropped a second off her 400m time every year, and hopes to do that again.
Libby is the McMahon’s youngest child – twins Ben and Charlie are both seniors at Trinity College – but there may be another bulldog in the family’s future.
The first time they went to Yale, for her brother’s meet, McMahon got a navy sweater with a bulldog on it. “As a joke, because she didn’t think it would happen, my mom said if I got into Yale we could get a bulldog,” McMahon said.
Right now they have three dogs, a golden retriever (Maple), a poodle mix (Moose), and a chihuahua (Butterball).
“All of our dogs are named after food,” said Chris McMahon, Libby’s mom. She said that Libby has narrowed down the names for the future bulldog to “Reuben” or “Hoagie.”
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