Folsom Athlete of the Week: Matt StrangioBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
Despite being out injured for a large chunk of the season and being under the weather last Saturday with some type of bug, Jesuit junior and Folsom resident Matt Strangio still managed to place first in the CIF State Cross Country Championship Division I race.
Strangio won the state championship at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 24, placing first in the 5,000-meter race in 15 minutes, 4.5 seconds, finishing less than a second before Evan Bates of West Ranch.
“Matt wasn’t 100 percent healthy, as he was dealing with congestion from some kind of bug,” Jesuit coach Walt Lange said. “Winning the state is a big deal. We’ve only had one other do it, and that was Matt Farley 25 years ago. The competition is very tough these days, as there are a lot of talented guys working hard to be the best they can be.”
Strangio missed four weeks of training in the middle of the season dealing with an injury. When he returned, he cruised though the league and section races, and Lange said the state meet was his first real test.
“Matt puts in 50 to 60 miles a week with a couple of intense workouts during the week,” Lange said. “He is mentally very tough and he likes to win.”
Strangio’s win at the state cross country meet was his second state gold medal this year, as he won the 3,200-meter run at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in June.
Last Saturday, Strangio capped off his cross country season at Nike Cross Country Nationals in Portland by placing eighth in 15:10.5, improving by seven spots from last year’s race. His top-eight finish earned him All-American status.
Folsom Telegraph: You grew up in Folsom and still live here, despite attending Jesuit High School. What schools did you attend here before moving on to Jesuit? Did you play any youth sports in town?
Matt Strangio: Before Jesuit, I went to Folsom Montessori, Natoma Station Elementary, and Sutter Middle School. Before high school, I played soccer for San Juan, EDUSA, Ethos, and El Dorado Hills Soccer Club.
FT: What are your hopes/plans for after graduation?
MS: After graduation, I plan to run in college. My goal after college is to run in the Olympics.
FT: Do sports run in your family?
MS: Both of my parents ran in college, and my younger brother plays soccer.
FT: How long have you been running cross country and how did you get your start in it?
MS: I started running in elementary school; we had a running club and I thought it would be fun. In middle school, I did the school track and cross country teams, but I never focused on running until high school and most of my “training” in middle school was whatever running I did at soccer practice.
FT: Have you ever been involved in other sports?
MS: As a kid, I played baseball, basketball, and soccer. I got bored of baseball and basketball in third grade and decided to focus on soccer, but I always knew that I wanted to run once I got to high school.
FT: What do you like about running cross country?
MS: My favorite part of cross country is that it is a team sport. Winning races is nice, but helping the team do well is what I enjoy the most.
FT: You just won the CIF state cross country Division I championship race. Had that been a goal of yours? When did you feel you had a shot at it? Were you confident before the race you could do it?
MS: Winning a cross country state championship has always been a goal of mine, being the second Marauder ever to win one makes it that much sweeter. I had been sick all week, so I was a little nervous before the race, but I put myself in a good position and got the job done regardless.
FT: How did the race go for you personally? Was it a personal-best time? How did you feel out there?
MS: It was a PR for me, but because of my sickness I feel I could have run 20 seconds faster. My body wasn’t fatigued at all, I just couldn’t breathe.
FT: You also won the gold medal at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in the 3,200-meter run in June. Was either one more difficult to achieve than the other?
MS: Winning the cross country state meet was harder, because I was really sick and was having breathing problems.
FT: Do you prefer cross country over track or track over cross country and why?
MS: I prefer track more, I don't really know why, I just do.
FT: Do you have any scholarship offers yet? From where?
MS: I’m talking to a few schools, but I still need to take the SAT so I don’t have any offers but this is my junior year.
FT: What is your favorite class in school?
MS: My favorite class is probably AP US history (sorry Coach Witz).
FT: Favorite music?
MS: My favorite type of music is rap.
FT: Favorite Food?
MS: My favorite food is my Dad’s cheeseburgers.
FT: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
MS: We have a yellow lab name Chelsea, who I will try and run with, but she’ll stop if we pass her favorite park because she wants to play fetch.
FT: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
MS: In my free time, I like to go to Downtown Sac or to the Palladio with friends. I also enjoy anything having to do with sports.
FT: What inspires you in sports?
MS: My biggest inspiration is Matthew Centrowitz. He won the Olympic gold medal in the 1,500, which is my favorite event and on top of that he is an American.
FT: Is there a particular job or profession you’d like to have in the future?
MS: I would either like to be an automotive engineer or a physical therapist if running doesn’t work out.