Today we salute Thomas Matsumura of Southern Lehigh.
Matsumura was a three-time state meet qualifier in XC. This past spring, he won the District 11 AAA title in the 1,600 meters. He finished up his career with PRs of 1:58.35 in the 800 meters, 4:23.54 in the 1,600 meters, and 9:39..06 in the 3,200 meters.
He reflected on his terrific high school career for us before he head to Bucknell University in the fall.
Throughout the end of June and through July we we be honoring our graduating seniors. To submit your own questionnaire to be posted on the front page of PennTrackXC, check out this page and email your responses to Dan Beck (email@example.com).
What was your most memorable race/competition?
Definitely the District XI Championship in track this past season. I won the 1600, giving me my first district gold. After such a troublesome year, I was able to put together a solid effort and make it back to Shippensburg for a second year. I also ran a 2 second PR in the 800 only a few hours later, which gave me more confidence in my speed and closing ability.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
The 1600 at outdoor states, both my junior and senior years. Those two races gave me real exposure to some of the top talent at my level. The experience I gained was incredible and allowed me to recognize just how deep Pennsylvania distance running is and how proud I was to be standing on the line next to such accomplished athletes.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
I think my biggest accomplishment was the number of State Championships I was able to qualify for. While I never had a standout performance at a State meet, I qualified for 6 (3x XC, 1x Indoor, 2x Outdoor). I am proud to have qualified for that many with the incredible competition I faced throughout High School.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
This question is tough for me to answer, mainly because I try to believe everything happens for a reason and the past shouldn't be changed. However, if there were one thing I would change, and this is overly specific, I would work to put the bad races behind me. I had more than a fair share of bad races throughout high school, and I did not let them go easily. I know now that it's important to shake those races from your head and keep moving forward.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
My senior year was extremely challenging and filled with obstacles. In the middle of a great training block at the end of last summer, I developed a stress fracture in my sacrum that sidelined me for 7 weeks, including 6 on crutches. I did not run from the end of July until mid-September. I slowly began to build up endurance and struggled through XC season and barely made the State meet, where my performance was subpar. That State meet filled me with more motivation than ever. 2 weeks later, I developed another stress fracture, this time in my fibula. I was out for over a month, once again, and didn't complete my first run back until after the new year. The endless hours on the stationary bike, in the pool, and with an aquajog belt around my waist drove me crazy, but lit a fire under me. I did all I could to recover and return to form, and while I know I didn't quite reach my full potential, I've begun training to have a big freshman XC campaign in college.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss all of the relationships I developed throughout high school athletics. District XI and the Colonial League have some incredible student-athletes and I was very close with all of my competitors (shoutout Ethan Bernstein, Matt Bodon, Jake Martinez and my teammate Colin Cramer). Whether in victory or defeat, these guys made every race competitive and fun to be a part of.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Listen to your body. If you have pain, report it. The sooner it gets dealt with, the better. Additionally, be smart with your training. This includes recovery days. Taking some runs easier is a vital part of proper recovery and keeps you sharp throughout the entire season. As many coaches say, "Take the easy days easy, and the hard days hard."
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
My coaches are all incredibly honorable and dedicated people. The amount of time and individualized attention they were able to offer to me helped me perform at a high level for four years and shaped me into not just a better athlete, but a better person overall. To Coach Strong, Coach Kocis, and Coach Latza- I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for me. None of my accomplishments would have occurred without your endless support and dedication. In terms of life goals, if I can be even close to as dedicated, motivated, and caring as my coaches were towards me, I will be in a great position in life.
What are your post-high school plans?
I will be attending Bucknell University to study neuroscience and run division 1 Cross Country and Track & Field. I cannot wait to join the Bison this fall!
Too many to name. Thanks to my parents and sisters for their unwavering support; to my teammates and coaches for always believing in me through all the ups and downs; to Colin Cramer for being my #1 long run and workout partner and States roommate; and to Dr. Krafczyk for rehabilitating me throughout the long recovery process. Also, shoutout to my fellow PA Bucknell distance recruits, Brett Zatlin and Brendan O'Toole.