Maddie Criscione signs her letter of intent to run track and cross country at Vanderbilt University this fall. Adam Spencer/The Park Record
Maddie Criscione signs her letter of intent to run track and cross country at Vanderbilt University this fall. Adam Spencer/The Park Record

Maddie Criscione didn't plan on only looking at colleges east of the Mississippi River that's just how her search played out.

The Park City High School senior member of the state champion girls' cross-country team, and the track team, ended up spending her official visits at Northwestern, William and Mary, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt.

Ultimately, Criscione decided that she would head to Nashville this fall to join the Vanderbilt Commodores cross-country and track teams after signing her letter of intent on Wednesday afternoon.

"Sometimes, you just know, and I knew when I went there," she said about Vandy. "I loved everything about it. It was a really great trip."

Though Vanderbilt was her third of four official school visits, she said she fell in love with it immediately.

"Just going to William and Mary [after Vandy] reassured my decicision that I wanted to go to Vanderbilt," she said. "Just being there (Vandy), I knew that if one day I could never run another step, I would still be happy and could still be successful in life."

Being in the heart of Nashville is an added bonus, she said.

"There's still a campus, but then you have a really musical, country city, which I liked," Criscione said. "It wasn't too big, but it wasn't too small."

She was also impressed by her future teammates and coaches, as well as the program's national profile.

"They're very successful," she said. "They won the SEC Championships in 2011 and have been improving. The girls were fantastic and the coaches were great."

For her freshman year, Criscione said she'll focus on making the transition to college life.

"I think the biggest challenge will be adjusting to making your own schedule," she said. "I think running will help because you have a set time when you run and when you practice."

Beyond that, she has her sights set on becoming a great college athlete.

"Long-term, I want to become an All-American," she said. "Obviously, that's a good goal."

She'll also focus on earning a quality education at a strong academic college.

"I was looking for strong academics and a good school in general," she said. "I'm thinking [of majoring in] psychology, but I guess you never really know until you're there. College is the place you're supposed to find out."