Matthew Maton Becomes Sixth U.S. High Schooler To Break 4:00 In The Mile With 3:59.38 At Oregon Twilight

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By LetsRun.com
May 8, 2015

Jim Ryun. Tim Danielson. Marty Liquori. Alan Webb. Lukas Verzbicas. Matthew Maton.

Matthew Maton of Bend, Ore., wrote his name into the history books on Friday night at Hayward Field, running 3:59.38 for the mile to become just the sixth U.S. high schooler (5th American) to break 4:00. Despite windy conditions, the University of Oregon recruit closed hard (we had him at 57.5 on the final lap) to break the barrier on his future home track. He finished third in the race behind current Duck stars Eric Jenkins (3:57.09) and Will Geoghegan (3:57.53).

Maton was emotional after making history on Friday

Maton reacts to history

Maton competed in the meet unattached after parting ways with his high school team, Summit High School, in March (check out this Oregonian article for details on the split). Maton, who was 19th at Foot Lockers last fall after taking third as a junior, is now self-trained according to the Oregonian article, working out at Mountain View High School, though he runs his workouts by his mother, Michelle Dekkers, the 1988 NCAA XC champion at Indiana. Maton, who turned 19 on March 28, is older than most high school seniors.

The Race (video of race below results)

The race was not set up for Maton, but rather for Jenkins and Geoghegan, with former Ducks Mac Fleet and Matt Miner scheduled to take the duo through 1000 meters in 2:27 and 1200 in 2:58. The field strung out immediately and Maton settled into sixth place, leading the second pack behind the front five of Fleet, Miner, Jenkins, Geoghegan and Isaac Presson. He hit 409 meters in 61.4 (we got splits off the webstream and they did not always show Maton crossing the line so they may not be 100% accurate) and the pack continued to string out.

Recognizing that it would take a big effort to bridge the gap to the leaders, Maton decided to move back slightly and allow Sam Prakel and an Oregon runner to lead the chase pack and break the wind for him. He did this for the next two laps (2:00.6 at 809 after a 59.2 lap, 3:01.6 at 1209 after a 61.0 lap) and by the time he hit the bell was well back of Jenkins and Geoghegan up front.

Maton still had work to do

Maton (black singlet) still had work to do on the final turn

Maton would need to close in approximately 58 seconds or faster to get under 4:00. Did he have anything in the tank? Yes. With 400 to go, Maton surged and immediately broke away from the chasers. The strain on his face was evident as he streaked down the back stretch, but he was moving quickly, picking up ground on the leaders with every stride. With 200 to go, he had overhauled Presson and the gap to Jenkins and Geoghegan was shrinking significantly. Sub-4:00 seemed a distinct possibility.

Entering the home stretch, Jenkins and Geoghegan began to pull away — they were kicking now too — but Maton was focused on another foe: the clock. With the crowd cheering him on, he threw himself across the line and awaited his time on the scoreboard. When 3:59.38 flashed on the screen, the crowd erupted and Maton fell to his knees, bringing his head to the track in a display of raw emotion. Unofficially, we had his last lap in 57.5 seconds.

After the race, Dave Ross spoke to Maton for LetsRun.com. Maton said (video below) that he was focused on going sub-four here, as he had run 3:42.54 for 1,500m at the Oregon Relays last month (equivalent to a 4:00-flat mile give or take a few tenths) and this was the last race of the year where he was going to focus on time versus winning the race.

“I knew you’re not supposed to fixate on running sub four if you’re going to do it as you’re going to put too much pressure on yourself, but I would have been disappointed if I didn’t (do it),” he said. He said that after a gap opened up to the lead group at the end of the second lap he thought, “Oh gosh I lost it,” but his future Oregon teammates (Chris Brewer and Trent Warren we believe) helped keep him in it.

Once he hit the bell he said, “I was a little behind time where I liked to be, so I knew I really had to work the last lap. I just put it all on the line the last lap and it worked out.”

America, Meet Your Latest Sub-4:

Results and quick take analysis appear below.

Results

  1 Jenkins, Eric             SR Oregon                 3:57.09    
  2 Geoghegan, Will           SR Oregon                 3:57.53    
  3 Maton, Matthew            SR Unattached             3:59.38    
  4 Presson, Isaac               Furman Elite           4:00.65    
  5 Kincaid, William          JR Portland               4:00.76    
  6 Brewer, Chris             JR Oregon                 4:06.57    
  7 Warren, Trent             JR Oregon                 4:07.16    
  8 Prakel, Sam               SO Unattached             4:11.99    
  9 Watson, Cole              SR Oregon                 4:15.15    
 -- Fleet, Mac                   Nike OTC Elite             DNF    
 -- Miner, Matt                  Hoka One One               DNF

Race Video From PAC-12 Network Broadcast:

Discuss Maton’s historic achievement on our messageboards:
OFFICIAL MATTHEW MATON SUB-4 THREAD!! HSer runs 3:59.38!!

Quick Take #1: Breaking 4:00 as a high schooler is never easy, and Maton had to run a near-perfect race to do it

It was Maton vs. the clock on the home stretch

It was Maton vs. the clock on the home stretch

This race was far from an ideal setup for Maton to break 4:00. He had no pacers himself and it was windy, which resulted in him running his first and fourth laps with no one to break the wind for him. Yet he didn’t panic, settling into the chase pack for the middle two laps with the confidence that he would have something left for the final 400. Though it certainly helped having Presson, Geoghegan and Jenkins to chase over the final lap, he still had to run into the wind for half of it, which made his 57.5 last lap extremely impressive. Realistically, this race and the adidas Dream Mile were Maton’s only two chances to get sub-4:00 this year and he got it done. Congratulations. Now, we wonder if he’ll get a spot at the Pre Classic.

Quick Take #2: The new all-time U.S. high school mile list

1. Alan Webb 3:53.43 (2001)
2. Jim Ryun 3:55.3 (1965)
3. Matthew Maton 3:59.38 (2015)
4. Tim Danielson 3:59.4 (1966)
5. Lukas Verzbicas 3:59.71 (2011)*
6. Marty Liquori 3:59.8 (1967)

This was the fastest high school mile since Webb’s 3:53 at the 2001 Pre Classic.

*Verzbicas broke 4:00 while a US HS student, but not an American citizen.

Quick Take #3: The adidas Dream Mile just became a must-watch event for all fans of American running

Jenkins congratulated Maton after the race

Jenkins congratulated Maton after the race

The Dream Mile, scheduled for June 13 at the adidas Grand Prix in New York, has been attracting the top high school milers for several years now, but few will have the anticipation accompanying this year’s edition.

“Wait,” you might be saying, “didn’t Maton just break 4:00? What is there to be excited about?”

Well, Maton may not even be the best miler in his high school class. Last year’s Dream Mile champ/two-time Foot Locker champion, Grant Fisher (4:02.02 PR), ran 3:42.89 last weekend at Payton Jordan (for comparison, Maton ran 3:42.54 at the Oregon Relays on April 17). Fisher has been unbeatable against high school competition the last two years, and he beat Maton at the Dream Mile last year, 4:02.02 to 4:03.23. Both will be running the Dream Mile this year.

A two-time Foot Locker champ against a sub-4:00 guy in a high school race? Yeah, we’re pretty excited for that one. Now the question is whether Fisher can join Maton — and whether we can have two sub-4:00 high schoolers in the same year for the first time in history.

Quick Take #4: Age does matter

Maton’s performance is incredibly impressive, but it is worth pointing out that he is 19 years old — the age of a typical college freshman. For comparison, Syracuse’s super frosh Justyn Knight has run 3:39.66 for 1,500 this year (equivalent to 3:57-3:58) and he is 113 days younger than Maton. Runners generally improve in college due to maturity and better coaching — Maton clearly has a bright future and will be in good hands with Andy Powell — but it does help Maton that he’s a year older than most high seniors. (Editot’s note: Maton isn’t a year old than most high school seniors, but most people with his birthdate are college freshman).

The LesRun.com singlet (far left) was there when Webb first broke 4:00.

Age when they first broke 4 in HS:

Matthew Maton – 19 and 41 days
Tim Danielson – 18 and 190 days
Lukas Verzbicas – 18 and 156 days
Marty Liquori -18 and 19 days
Alan Webb – 18 and 7 days
Jim Ryun – 17 and 38 days

Discuss this race in our world famous fan forum: OFFICIAL MATTHEW MATON SUB-4 THREAD!! HSer runs 3:59.38!!
*Prediction: Maton sub 4 tonight, Fisher wins HS Dream Mile
*Matthew Maton 19 years old (College Freshman Age)
*More: LRC Archives: 
Verzbicas Breaks Four