Last week, DCHS senior Frankie Muldoon walked across the stage of the UNG Convocation Center to receive her diploma and officially put an end to one of the more impressive athletic careers in Dawson County history.
Muldoon spent her youth chasing two older brothers everywhere they went, doing everything they did and, by the time she approached high school, she was playing a wide variety of sports according to her mother, Michelle Muldoon.
“She was playing soccer, running cross-country, talking about track-and-field and she was thinking about trying out for the football team,” Michelle said. “We had to give something up as we got closer to high school.”
Despite her desire to follow in her brother Max’s footsteps, kicker for the Dawson County Tigers from 2010-2013, Muldoon’s love for running won out, and she committed to playing soccer and running cross-country, two sports she had blossomed in during the eighth grade.
“I actually got into cross-country to help with soccer,” Muldoon said. “Soccer is a lot of endurance, and I already knew I didn’t have a lot of speed.”
As a freshman midfield defender for the Lady Tigers, Muldoon formed a key piece of the defense that led Dawson County into the Elite Eight of the 2016 GHSA state tournament.
As a sophomore, Muldoon returned to contribute to the team’s runners-up finish in region 7-AAA and a second straight trip to the state tournament.
At the same time, as a member of the Dawson County cross-country team, Muldoon was discovering a passion and joy for running that would begin to guide her career.
In her first season with the team, Muldoon captured her first individual regional title in the 5k and her first top-5 state finish, establishing herself as a rising star in the eyes of cross-country Head Coach Charles Beusse.
“I believe that in coaching, it is our responsibility to invest in young men and women and help them achieve their goals while also providing them with opportunities to grow as leaders and as individuals,” Beusse said. “However, every once in a while, we are lucky enough to come across an athlete who makes you a better person as well. Frankie is one of those athletes.”
Over the course of her sophomore year, and especially after winning her second individual 7-AAA cross-country title, Muldoon realized that running was her passion, specifically long-distance running, and she left the soccer team to join the track and field team at the beginning of her junior year.
“I just kind of figured out how to run on a track,” Muldoon said. “It’s very different than cross-country running.”
Muldoon had an immediate impact on the team, according to track and field Head Coach Arron Haynes, by participating in the 800-meter (1/2 mile) and 1600-meter (1 mile) races. She continued to demonstrate both her work ethic and endurance by winning regional titles in each one of her races, tying the DCHS 800-m record and finishing, once again, in the top five in state competition in both races.
“Frankie's success is two-fold. She is blessed with a lot of natural talent, but her hard work is surpassed by no one,” Haynes said. “She just loves to run.”
Entering her senior year, Muldoon had captured back-to-back-to-back regional titles in cross-country (along with three top-5 state finishes), and had won individual titles in the 800-m and 1600-m (also with top-5 state finishes.
She set her sights on the only things left: a state title and the school record in the 5k.
“I love to set goals for myself,” Muldoon said.
Muldoon set the pace for herself and her team in the first race of the 2018 cross-country season when she set a course record at the Chestatee Invitational. She continued to dominate the region over the course of the year as she pulled in four wins, along with placing in the top 10 percent of two national level competitions, the Footlocker Invitational and the Elite Bracket of the Wingfoot Classic.
In her second to last race of the season, she accomplished her goal of setting the school 5k record when she crossed the finish line at the Unicoi State Park Mountain Invitational with a time of 18:26:40, surpassing the previous record established by Madalyn Waters.
Two weeks later, in her last regional competition, Muldoon broke the record a second time, placing the bar at 18:22:00 and capturing her fourth consecutive individual 7-AAA championship trophy.
“There are very few runners who have been able to win four straight individual region titles and I believe Frankie will be remembered for years to come as one of the best runners to come out of North Georgia,” Beusse said. “Everyone sees her success, but what most people don't see is what goes on behind the scenes. All the morning workouts during the summer, all the miles run alone and all the sacrifices that have been made to become the runner she is today. Those are the marks of a champion.”
The 2019 track and field season at Dawson County is destined to go down as one of the greatest years in the history of the school as the boys team captured the first-ever regional title, the girls team finished regional runners-up and 27 members of the program qualified for state competition producing nine finalists.
Among those finalists stood Muldoon.
Having transitioned from the 800-m to the 1600-m race and continuing to run in the 3200-m, she dominated the regional field as she captured both individual titles at the end of the season along with etching her name for a third time in the record books with a blistering 5:27 time in the 1600-m.
In the final race of her career, the 3200-m run at the GHSA state tournament May 12, Muldoon cemented her place in DCHS history with a bare-foot finish after losing her shoes on the first lap.
Despite the hardship, Muldoon entered the final lap neck-in-neck with the leader to cross the line in third place for the highest state finish of her career.
“After the 3200 at state, I didn’t know what to do for a few minutes. I had wanted the record, I had wanted the victory,” Muldoon said. “I suddenly realized it was the last high school race I would ever run. It was an emotional moment.”
Muldoon purposely delayed her college application process until the end of track and field season, although she knew that meant cutting it close on several deadlines, and with four cross-country titles, four track and field titles and four school records it was not long before she signed with the Division 1 Georgia State University Panthers of Atlanta.
In addition to running all-year round, the school features both an indoor and outdoor track program along with a cross-country program.
Muldoon will be pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Management and, possibly, a minor in a business related field with the goal of working with professional athletes and organizations on improving the basic health and nutrition although she hasn’t ruled out a career in running.
“I’m very excited. There are lots of changes, a lot to get used to and I know I’m going to have to make a name for myself again,” Muldoon said. “I would love to be a part of professional running and I am looking to improve in college. I hope to be able to train with the top girls to make myself better.”