EASTHAM — Last season, as a junior at Nauset Regional High School, Monique Malcolm placed first in both the 55-meter dash and 300-meter dash at the MIAA Division 4 track championships in February.
Her 7.23 seconds in the 55-meter was among the best in the state and broke the school record she had set the previous year as a sophomore. The Nauset girls indoor track team won the first D4 championship in school history, and Malcolm was named to the Boston Globe’s All-Scholastics team.
Malcolm could not have envisioned any of this when she first joined the team as a sophomore in 2018.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting these accomplishments,” she said.
Malcolm wasn’t much interested in sports when she arrived at Nauset but decided to give the track team a try. Her first competition came when Nauset faced Dennis-Yarmouth in the second meet of the 2018-19 season. Malcolm ran the 55-meter dash for the junior varsity team and won.
“Well, she ran the JV race, but she would have won the varsity race,” Nauset track coach Moira Nobili said. “I had no idea how good she was.”
Then Malcolm ran the 300-meter dash at the same meet and passed out from exhaustion.
“She ran really hard,” Nobili said. She was fast, but the problem was she hadn’t really trained.
“I almost ended up in the hospital,” Malcolm said with a laugh.
Nobili saw the potential in Malcolm and helped her train for the rest of her sophomore year to get in better shape.
“I wanted to keep competing,” Malcolm said. “Moira said I just had to train for it. I did some distance, some sprints, runs in the woods.”
She also began competing in the team 4×400-meter relays. Malcolm said Coach Nobili inspired her and the rest of the team to succeed.
“I don’t know what I would have done without her,” Malcolm said, talking about her coach. “She’s the spirit of the entire team.”
Malcolm is originally from Jamaica and moved to Cape Cod just before her sophomore year at Nauset. She lived in Truro until a recent move to Brewster.
Competing in track meets came easy for Malcolm. It was getting to them that was hard, especially at the beginning.
Transportation was a problem. Nauset’s meets are held at Wheaton College in Norton and the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, and some are scheduled on weekends. Malcolm’s mother works at Seashore Point in Provincetown but doesn’t drive, and during that first season, her stepfather was working off Cape on weekends.
“It was the worst,” Malcolm said of trying to get to weekend meets. She hesitated to ask for help. “I didn’t want to be a pest,” she said. But in order to make the meets she had to ask her coach or teammates for rides.
Getting home from practices wasn’t easy either. Malcom said she tried to catch the high school late bus Tuesday through Thursday. That left Mondays and Fridays to be figured out on the fly.
Malcolm now has her driver’s license, so driving may become an option once the new season starts.
Malcolm helps support herself, too. She initially worked a year-round job in Provincetown. The track season meant trying to get a schedule that would allow her time to fit everything in.
“It was really hard,” she said. But she’s re-arranged things somewhat. She began working at Stop & Shop in Orleans this summer and will continue during the week, but only until the indoor track season begins.
In a normal year, indoor track would have already begun. But the MIAA restructured its schedules and moved indoor track to the Fall 2 season, which is scheduled to begin in mid-February. The spring outdoor track season was cut short last year due to Covid-19, so Malcolm has been itching to compete again.
“I was so ready for spring track,” she said. “When it got canceled, I was just sad.”
She admitted that it’s been hard to stay focused on training since that cancelation. Malcolm knows she’s not a distance runner — and staying in top form on your own can be harder for a sprinter. But being at Nauset has allowed her at least one workaround: she picked up a new sport, playing on the soccer team this fall. She has also signed up for weightlifting classes that are scheduled to begin next semester.
Malcolm is low-key about her success. “I just want to try and do my best,” she said. But when asked if she can imagine breaking her own meet record for the third year in a row, she says, “I have to do something before I leave Nauset.”
Malcolm has been accepted at American International College in Springfield, where she won a scholarship to run track. It’s an award that Nobili said is well deserved.
Good coaching is part of what attracted her to the program there. That and what felt like a warm welcome.
“The coaches are really good at what they do,” Malcolm said. “It’s a really nice, welcoming school.”