June 19, 2017

The times were less than expected for Key West distance runner Nicole Matysik over the weekend at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Track and Field Meet, but the lessons learned will be invaluable.

The Key West junior, who was sponsored by the Key West Southernmost Runners Club, had a stellar prep track season that qualified her in the 5,000 meters (5K) and 2-Mile run for the prestigious meet in Greensboro, North Carolina.

On Friday night, Matysik clocked an 18:20.99 in the 5K for 19th overall. In the 2-miler on Saturday evening, she was over a minute slower than her qualifying time of 10:35 with a disappointing 11:48.24 for 23rd overall.

Key West distance coach Terence White said her time in the 5K was around her best time, but said Matysik fell short in the 2-mile run.

“Based on what she has been doing, we both thought she could have done better,” said White. “I think all the training was geared toward the state meet and she ran the race of her life and got second there in the 3,200. Then we asked her to go again in five weeks. You could see after a couple laps in the 2-mile she was not herself.”

White said it is not the end, but the beginning of a new regime for the elite runner.

“The good news is, she qualified for this meet. It was a great learning experience. We’ll be able to gear the training for peaking later in the season,” said White. “Next time, she’ll be more prepared. We’ll sort of gear her to run well at the state meet, the pinnacle of everything. She can run her best there with the understanding that’s more of the beginning of things, instead of the ending of things.”

White said though Matysik ran against the best runners in the country, none was unbeatable.

“I really believe if we stretch her training a little differently, she’ll be right there. Obviously, she’s disappointed. She understands what she has accomplished this season,” said White. “We know how to make her run her best when she needs to and we’re going to shift it a little bit. She has proved she is among the top runners and she belongs there. Now, it is our job to see that we get there when she is running her best at the end. And I think we can do that.

“It was a great experience, she knows what it is like and knows what it will take. She’s such a hard worker, she is going to be ready for next year.”

The event is organized by the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation which hosts over 7,000 athletes at its three national high school indoor and outdoor track and field and cross-country championships. This is the most prestigious post-season track and field championships for high school athletes and is the showcase for more than 2,900 of America’s best and emerging high school talent annually since 1991.

rcooke@keysnews.com