Matthew Maton, one of the most accomplished high school runners ever to come through Central Oregon, is currently not competing with the Summit High track and field team, the school’s track coach and athletic director confirmed Monday.
According to Summit athletic director Gabe Pagano, Maton, who has won the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races at the Class 5A state championships each of the past two years, has opted to compete unattached in this, his senior season.
“Right now, it’s an open-door policy,” said Dave Turnbull, Summit’s longtime track and field coach. “We gave him the option of running for us. He chose to run unattached. … I wish the best for him.”
Maton, who broke Olympian Galen Rupp’s course record at the 5A cross-country state meet in Eugene this past fall and has signed to run for the University of Oregon, competed in Summit’s first event this spring, winning the 800 at a meet in Prineville on March 19. His time of 1 minute, 53.63 seconds as of Monday was the top mark in the state, regardless of classification.
“We’d love to have him, obviously,” Pagano said. “He’s a really decorated athlete. We’d love to have him on our team. But it’s been his choice not to be with us for the last week.”
Messages left for Maton for comment Monday were not returned. His mother, Michelle, said in an email to The Bulletin that the runner is “a little worn out and still trying to come to grips with all that happened.”
Over the weekend, Maton ran unattached in the San Francisco State Distance Carnival in California, winning the 2-mile race in 9:03.73 - the fastest high school 2-mile time in the nation this season by nearly 17 seconds, according to DyeStat.com.
Maton owns state 5A records in the 1,500 and the 3,000 and was striving to break Rupp’s all-classifications records. But for the time being those plans will be on hold, because for as long as Maton is competing unattached, he will not be allowed to run at the state championships in May.
The Oregon School Activities Association, according to its executive director Brad Garrett, does not allow unattached athletes to compete against athletes representing OSAA member high schools.
Garrett said Maton would not be allowed to compete in any OSAA-sanctioned event unless he entered unattached in an “open” race that included only unattached participants.
Garrett went on to say that if Maton did want to end his high school career with another state championship, the Summit senior would have to rejoin the Storm track team in time for the district championship. The only way into the state meet, Garrett said, is for Maton to qualify out of districts.
“He could compete unattached all year long and then compete attached at the district meet,” Garrett said. “We don’t have any requirement that says you have to run in ‘x’ number of meets representing a member school.”
While Maton is currently competing unattached, Turnbull and Pagano echoed that rejoining Summit is still an option for the standout distance runner.
“We’ve got an open-door policy,” Turnbull repeated. “He has been welcomed to run for Summit.”
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