Genuine Matthews is fully aware his accomplished high school track and field career is nearing its end. But his focus remains as sharp as ever as the St. Francis standout eyes a return to the Class 2A state meet.
After being edged of a state title in the 400-meter dash by .35 seconds last year, Matthews has trained hard to get that last push toward the finish line.
“I did some AAU running during the summer and that really taught me how to run the 400,” Matthews said. “Because I saw the finish line at first, but then I died and the dude took it (at state). It scars you, but it also motivates you. It’s been good motivation for me.”
So far, the extra training and motivation has helped. Matthews ran a 48.65 in the finals last year at the state meet. Anoka senior Jacob Baldus ran a 48.30 to take the gold medal. Matthews is looking stronger this year, highlighted by his time of 47.79 at the Hamline Elite April 28, breaking the record at the prestigious meet.
“I remember when the elite meet came around last year, I impressed myself and dropped 2 seconds,” Matthews said. “I dropped another second this year and got a 47.”
The wins kept coming for Matthews. He won the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes at the Mississippi 8 Conference meet May 24.
Matthews said he’ll likely focus on the 100 and 400 at the section meet. But it’s the 400 that he’s set the highest expectations for. A state championship and a Minnesota high school record, which is 47.18 set by Mounds View’s Quinn Evans in 2007, are the ultimate goals.
Matthews is staying at peak shape throughout the season, whether it be a big or small meet. At the smaller meets, he would run the last leg of the 4×400 meter relay to chase runners ahead of him.
All of it hopes to lead to his best performances at sections and state.
“I’ve just been training hard and doing a lot more workouts,” Matthews said. “And when the time comes, just stay confident and run.”