BY MICHAEL KELLY
Nick Matson had a successful high school running career while at Shenendehowa, helping the Plainsmen to a pair of team titles during his tenure with the program.
So, when Matson started his running career at Manhattan College, his expectation was to perform at a high level — eventually. Instead, he has surprisingly stepped right in for the Jaspers during his freshman year and become a factor.
At the team’s first off-campus event — the Rider Invitational in Pennington, N.J. — Matson performed like a veteran and stunned himself.
“I’ll be honest,” he said. “I was incredibly surprised. In my first 8K this fall, I went through the 5K mark and realized that my time there was the best 5K to date. That was shocking.”
A little bit later, he finished his race.
“Then, I was very shocked with that time,” he said of his finishing 25:28.13, which was good for 32nd place overall, first for his team, and a new personal record.
Since that Sept. 19 race, Matson has kept doing his thing and become one of his school’s top runners. Regionals are Nov. 13, and his latest race before that competition was the MAAC Championships on Oct. 31; at that latter event, Matson came in 35th place with a mark of 25:07.5, helping Manhattan to a sixth-place finish a year after the team finished in ninth.
“We wanted to get better than [ninth place] and show the rest of the conference that we could compete and we could hang with the top teams,” Matson said. “Some of the other coaches came up to our coach [and said how the program had improved]. That was a good feeling.”
But since Matson got down to college this past August, he’s had little to not feel good about while at Manhattan. Besides his athletics, he has already found a major — history — and knows he wants to go to law school after completing his undergraduate work.
“The history department here teaches you how to write in a legal style and we do a lot of papers,” said Matson, who said he is most interested in 20th century wars. “So, I’m taking a lot of history courses.”
When his cross country season completes, he’ll likely go right into the indoor track and field campaign. Matson said he might take one or two days off from intensive training, but it’s been months since he went a full day without running in some form.
“That was when I got my wisdom teeth out in June,” Matson said. “Then, I really had to take two days off.”