GAINESVILLE - St. Johns Country Day School senior track runner Matthew Stratton, the Class 1A cross country state champion, strode past his dad in lap three of eight at the Class 1A 3200 meter finals …
GAINESVILLE - St. Johns Country Day School senior track runner Matthew Stratton, the Class 1A cross country state champion, strode past his dad in lap three of eight at the Class 1A 3200 meter finals in Gainesville and gave a wave seemingly showing confidence in what he was about to do.
Or so it seemed.
“I knew a girl in my math class once and she was a state track athlete and I was waving to her,” said Stratton, who cranked out near 70 second quarters en route to a gold medal winning nine minutes, 15.62 seconds effort to win the 3200 convincingly with one added bonus; his sophomore teammate and training partner Graham Myers was second behind him by just 11 seconds.
“I was thrilled to see Graham having his best race of the year on this day,” said Stratton. “I kept turning around in the last two laps to see where he was and he made a pretty good move with two laps to go. I knew he could hold it.”
For Stratton, who won the race on the track he will be competing on next fall and spring with the University of Florida cross country team and track team, the win was sort of redemption for a bad race last year that had him finish a disappointing third in 9:42.56.
“I qualified for the 800 and the 1600 along with Graham, but my achilles was sensitive and I wanted to give my best effort in the 3200,” said Stratton. “Graham stayed the course with me and did not run the two other events and we got a great result. He will be the face of running next year after this finish.”
Stratton and Myers finished 1-2 in the 800, 1600 and 3200 in the district and region championships with the pair teaming with Richard Nichols and Stanley Cowherd to put the Spartans’ 4 x 800 meters in sixth place in Gainesville.
“I wanted to run that one; the 4 x 800 because the team got there and it was special to be part of that,” said Stratton.
For Greg Stratton, Matthew’s dad and the St. Johns coach, watching his son complete his career with a convincing win in his final race for a state title was well worth the decision to take on the program when iconic coach Jay Birmingham retire a few years ago.
“We have done a lot of traveling, training and discussing about today,” said Greg Stratton. “At some point, I was the dad instead of the coach when it became real that he had the race in the bag. Then I could enjoy it.”
For the rest of the Spartan state track visit, Cowherd, a senior, competed in the long jump and 400 with a 12th in long jump and a 17th in the 400 in 52.35 seconds.
For the girls, 400 meter specialist Ava Johnson, a junior, finished 18th in 1:02.94.
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