A Walk With Matt Wilkinson

(Photo provided by Matt Wilkinson)

First of all, how did you first get involved with running?

I started running during track in 8th grade because I had some friends who were doing it. I wasn't planning on doing XC in 9th grade, but one of the other distance runners convinced me to try it out and just see how I like it the first day. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. It was a hill workout and I was really worried about getting lost on the way back so I just planned to turn around when we got there with the other freshmen. Somehow I lost those guys, so I just ran with varsity and it was sort of an accident.

What are all your personal records, including cross country?

15:31 in the 5k, 9:32 in the 3200, 4:25 in the 1600, 2:00.2 in the 800.

Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?

Other than pre-run soccer, I played basketball for the high school B team freshman year. I'm pretty sure I only made the team because of my aerobic ability. 

What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?

Bauman/Rovn last fall in cross country. It was the first team victory for Minnetonka XC since I joined the team four years ago. We went crazy when we heard the results. It proved that all of our hard training in the summer had payed off.

Other than your own teammates, who are some of your favorite athletes to compete against?

Patrick Roos is always a good guy to lose to, and I always like trying to run with Seth Eliason in cross country. I've also gotta put Colin Dwyer's name in here too though; we both anchored the 1600 in the DMR at Shakopee Relays last year and it was a crazy race. He pushed me so hard that our last lap was a 60, even though we had both already raced that day. Also Zac Miller is always a good runner to follow on the track.

What is your favorite, or most effective, workout you're done?

I'd have to say either the trifecta (tempo run followed by a hill workout followed by a track workout) or this one 15 miler that me and a couple guys did over the summer. We ate at the McDonald's in Excelsior, ran 7.5 miles to the McDonald's in Wayzata and ate there, then we ran back and ate at the Excelsior McD's again. It was as much of a workout for my digestive system as it was for my legs.

Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career?

Of course Coach Renlund and Coach Hoag, who have inspired me to work hard and to get better every day since freshman year. Other than that, Cedric Callie and Patrick Brady have been my running mates since day one. Also, I've gotta give a shout out to my brother Adam who always wakes me up early to do those Sunday runs.

(Photo provided by Matt Wilkinson)

What is a challenge you have had to face as an athlete?

If we are talking about in one specific race, I'd have to say cramping up in the State meet this year. That was super frustrating and it still irks me to this day that I couldn't reach my maximum potential because of something I couldn't control. Long term I've had a lot of IT problems that have come up over my four years, and every once in a while it makes aerobic training more difficult.

As a senior, what comments reflections do you have over your cross country career, and how have your perspectives, strategies, or attitudes changed since you first started running?

When I first started running, aerobic training was a drag for me. It was tough and seemingly took forever. Now, with four years under my belt, there's hardly anything that I love more than long runs. So, as I start to get nostalgic about my last season of running in high school, I just hope I will leave this legacy on the team: if you want to be good, you have to have passion. I have seen so many guys come through Minnetonka XC with a bunch of talent that never try and never succeed. At the same time, the team of guys behind me right now are all hard workers. We aren't like Wayzata, who just have an endless supply of sub-17 guys. Our boys start in the 20's and the dedicated ones work their way down. If this tradition continues, there's no way we won't have significant team success in the near future. 

What are your main goals for this upcoming track season?

Going to State in the mile or the two mile would be awesome. That being said, I really just want to break my coach's old 2 mile school record of 9:21. But I've gotta set a low enough mark that Adam won't be able to break it next year. 9:13 would be cool.

(Photo provided by Matt Wilkinson)

Do you have any college plans?

I'll be going to Carleton College next year. I'm super excited for both the academics and athletics. The MIAC is filled with great athletes and I know I'll have some solid competition.

What were some of the things that most attracted you to Carleton?

I was very interested in Carleton for the academics first, as it is a fantastic school with so many great professors and programs. Of course, Coach Dave Ricks also played a big role in convincing me to join his team and I'm very excited to work with him next year.

Do you have any rituals, routines, or superstitions either on or off the track?

This is going to be really hard to explain but I always listen to the song Space Oddity by David Bowie before every race. At cross country camp a couple years back we watched Without Limits, the movie about Prefontaine. In one of the last scenes, right before he gets in the car crash that ended his life, he is listing off the splits that he needs for his potential record-breaking race. Space Oddity is playing in the background. So, as I listen to that song, I either verbally or mentally list off the splits that I want to hit for that race. I love Pre by the way. I dressed as him for Halloween.

When not doing anything track-related, what might we find you doing?

As some of my teammates like to roast me for, you'd probably find me chillin' with my girlfriend. If not that, I'm probably at home beating Adam in NBA 2k17. 

Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.

My all-time favorite movie is Paul Blart 2. Don't be fooled by the 5% rating it received from Rotten Tomatoes. It is a fantastic movie.