Matthew Maton, who grew up in Austin, made history on Friday night in Eugene, Oregon.
A high-school senior in Bend, Oregon, Maton became the just the sixth high-school runner in U.S. History (fifth American) to break the four-minute mile barrier. Before a Hayward Field crowd on the University of Oregon campus at the Twilight Meet, Maton finished third in the mile, but his time of 3:59.38 is the third fastest ever run by a high schooler, behind only Jim Ryun and American record holder Alan Webb.
Despite a windy night, Maton ran 57.5 on the final lap to dip under the four-minute barrier and the first high schooler to do so since Luke Verzbicas did it four years ago. Maton trailed the rabbits throughout the race (lodged in sixth) which was set up for two Oregon runners—Nate Jenkins and Will Geoghegan.
Maton moved up some on the third lap, but on the bell lap, the 19-year-old was well behind the two UO runners.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh crap, I’m way behind,’ ” said Maton.
But on the bell, Maton began to move and pulled away from the other milers chasing Jenkins and Geoghegan who were well clear of the field. On the home stretch, Maton could see his running time on the scoreboard and knew what he needed to do break four minutes.
Finishing third, Maton waited anxiously for the scoreboard to spit out his time and when it did, he went to his knees and appeared to be sobbing with joy. He later took a victory lap with Jenkins and Geoghegan.
Maton had been fixated on going sub-four at the Twilight Meet.
“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but I would have been disappointed if I didn’t do it. Once I scheduled this meet,” Maton told FloTrack afterward, “I said if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen here.”
The Twilight Meet holds great significance for Maton who first broke five minutes for the mile in this same meet five years ago as a middle schooler.
In the same meet last night, Maton’s older sister—Ashley, who ran at Westlake HS before moving to Oregon—also PR’ed. Ashley, a junior at Oregon, ran 2:09.44 for 800 meters. But the night belonged to Matthew Maton who was competing unattached.
In March, Maton was kicked off his Summit HS team because of a dispute with the coaches and has had to train alone since then. With coaching advice from his mother Michelle (the 1988 NCAA cross-country champion) and Parker Stinson, the former Cedar Park star, Maton had prepared specifically for this sub-4 attempt.
“It’s been kind of rough going to school every day,” said Maton who trained at another high school’s track. “This week I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about four minutes. I know you aren’t supposed to think about it, but I couldn’t stop.”
Maton had run the metric equivalent of a four-minute mile two weeks ago (3:42.54) at the Oregon Relays (breaking Galen Rupp’s state record).
“After that race,” Maton told FloTrack, “I knew a sub-4 was possible. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. It took a lot of work.”
Next up for Maton, who will attend the University of Oregon in the fall, is the Adidas Dream Mile in New York on June 13th.