Matt Long, Ashland Track

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Matt Long
Issue Date: 
July, 2019
Article Body: 

The difference between being a good and excellent runner in certain track events is seconds. Ashland’s Matt Long has been running the 400 for the Clockers for the past four years, beginning as a seventh grader in the Middle School. Since he first started running the event he has taken an amazing six and a half seconds off his time and he has just finished his sophomore campaign at Ashland.
“Matt is a gung ho runner, who backs it up. Every time that he runs he seems to get faster and faster,” Ashland Head Coach Chris Avery said. “He works hard and focuses on what he is doing. He also has a beautiful stride and looks like a natural runner.”
It was during Middle School when a lot of his friends were going to try out for track, so Long tagged along with them. In the eighth grade he ran a 58 second 400 and felt that that time was good enough to eventually earn himself a spot on the high school squad. As a freshman and sophomore Long has run cross country in the fall, played basketball in the winter and participated in track during the spring.
While cross country is a totally different animal when it comes to running according to his Coach it has helped the sophomore’s ability on the track building up his stamina. Although the Ashland Coach may be looking to get her young runner into a longer event, he is quite content to continue running the 400 where he has had success.
“I tried the 100 once, but wasn’t too thrilled with it. The 400 is not too long and not too short,” he said. “The event is more mental and I feel that I have more control. I start out fast and either get in the lead or keep pace with the leader.”
Running in his first varsity season last spring as a freshman he not only ran well in the Freshman/Sophomore Meet recording his personal best time, but finished second at the Tri-Valley League Meet while finishing the year at the District 4 Sectionals where he posted 53.79 second 400.
“I really didn’t have any idea that I could run that fast, “he said. “I finished in 10th place with that time, but was seeded 29th coming in so I was very happy with what I accomplished.”
As his second campaign began the sophomore was hoping to break the 52 second mark by the end of the year. It didn’t take him all that long and in his third race of the season he dropped below his goal and had to reevaluate his goals for the rest of the year. Having already come close to 51 seconds he knew that he could definitely get his times down by the end of the season.
“Having come into the season with 54 I knew that he’d be able to drop his time below 52, I just didn’t think it would have been as quickly as he had accomplished it,” Avery said. “He just continues to drop his times due to his dedication and drive. Matt continually looks to get better and I can see him someday running a 48 second 400.”
During the Freshman/Sophomore Meet this season he broke the record and went on to run a 50.73 400 in the Districts to finish in fifth place, after finishing 10th a year earlier.
“I’m happy with that finish, but I was disappointed that I missed out on advancing to the states (the top three runners advance),” Long said. “The four runners ahead of me ewer all seniors, so I should be in good shape to not only win it next year but move onto the states where I want to finish in the top five.”
Before the season came to an end Long lowered his 400 time one final time when he posted a 50.55 at the Battle Road Twilight, an unattached meet that took place at Bentley University in Waltham. MA. Here he was not only running against high school athletes, but college athletes and beyond. The sophomore finished in seventh place, where he actually ran against two 30 year old runners.
This summer he will; continue to run in unaffiliated meets to stay in shape while preparing for next year. Long is also preparing to drop basketball during the upcoming winter season and take part in winter track where he will run either the 300 or 600; something he has yet to decide on. He will run both races and see where he feels more comfortable.
With a personal best time of 50.55 he is looking to get that time down to at least 49.5; something he believes he should have no problem doing, especially since he already dropped his time from the beginning of the season 3 seconds. With two more years of high school on the horizon he will continue to run hoping that he can eventually get into a college where he can continue his running. Taking part in cross country as well as winter and spring track for the next two year, who knows what the young runner will be able to accomplish.