Leader. Sportsman. Runner.

Runners from all across America gathered at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon, on Dec. 7 in order to compete in the Nike Cross National Championships. Despite the fierce competition, Matt Strangio ’20 reasserted his place as California’s best high school cross country runner with an astounding 4th place finish. 

Matt had been working towards his 15:08 time for nearly four years. In his debut at the championship as a sophomore, he finished in 15th place and had an 8th place finish the following year. Matt has always been a great runner, and Cross Country Assistant Coach Nick Lai attributes his speed to his outstanding work ethic. 

“To be one of the best in the nation requires some natural talent but a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and confidence,” Coach Lai said. “You have to believe that you can run with the best and be the best. You also have to push your body beyond where you think it can go. Matt gets tired like everyone else, but he has the ability to run harder when his body tells him to stop. It takes guts to run like he can, and he has developed a very high pain and discomfort threshold.”

Along with being one of the nation’s best, Matt has been known to be a natural-born leader for his fellow Marauders, and his encouraging spirit hasn’t been ignored by Cross Country Assistant Coach Thomas Witzgall. 

“Matt has been a leader on the team by demonstrating what consistent hard work looks like,” Coach Witzgall said. “He has pushed his teammates to set higher goals. When a teammate says ‘I want to run 16 minutes,’ Matt will tell him ‘I think you can run 15:30.’ This year, Matt has been as focused on the team’s success as much as his own accomplishments. Matt truly wanted his teammates to be running with him at Nike Cross Nationals, and they very nearly made that happen.”

Being a great athlete isn’t all physical prowess, and Matt has proven his unfaltering sportsmanship. Matt wants everyone to succeed, no matter how slow or fast, and gives his personal advice on how to be as fast as California’s best runner. 

“For people just starting out running, the biggest piece of advice I can give them is that it doesn’t matter how talented you are, where you come from, or who you know; the way to be the best is to show up everyday and work your hardest,” Matt said. “In this sport, more than any other, hard work beats talent. Also, do your best to have as much fun as you can because that will make all the work that much easier.”

Matt Strangio is the whole package: he’s a runner with a five-minute mile, a natural leader for his team, and a diligent and hardworking athlete to boot. The Jesuit High School cross country team couldn’t ask for someone better to represent them at Nationals.