When Emilie Taderera told her son to try track and field to stay in shape, his answer was simple. 

“I don’t want to go. I’m a soccer player.” 

Tinoda Matsatsa has always loved soccer — most nights, he’s dribbling the ball around the house. A senior at St. Andrew’s Episcopal, he was a striker on the varsity team. 

But though he initially didn’t want to run — he hid from the track coach in middle school to avoid signing up, only to be informed that Taderera had registered him anyway — Matsatsa has become one of the top middle-distance runners in the country. 

At the HOKA Festival of Miles in St. Louis in early June, the 18-year-old became the first Black high school athlete to run a sub-four-minute mile. His time of 3 minutes 58.70 seconds put him in elite company as one of only 20 American high schoolers to beat four minutes. 

Despite early-season doubts — Matsatsa finished in 4:15.25 at an event in New York in December and in 4:10.87 at the Virginia Showcase in Virginia Beach in January — his accomplishment was no accident. 

“It doesn’t matter if he has a coach or he doesn’t have a coach,” Taderera said. “He trains himself. If it’s raining, snowing, it’s scorching hot, he doesn’t stop training. He will train independently without being told by the coach to do it.” 

To prepare for the 1,600-meter mile, Matsatsa split 1,000 meters into various segments. After warming up, he would start with a 500, which helped him train for a goal lap pace of about 59 seconds. The additional 100 meters helped him practice holding his speed going into the next lap. Next was a 300, which simulated running a little faster than the goal pace, between 42 and 44 seconds. The last part of the split 1K was a 200 to work on form during the final part of the actual race. 

“Our goal in his senior year is to enable him to race at the highest level possible to prepare him for the future,” St. Andrew’s Coach Ben Zastrow said. “And he’s very dedicated to that preparation.” 

During the Festival of Miles, after Matsatsa came through the first 800 meters at two minutes flat, he knew he could run a faster time (a negative split) in the second leg to break four minutes. 

“When I first saw [the time] when I first crossed the line,” Matsatsa said, “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s not real.’ But the more time passed, the more I was like, ‘That 3:58 is actually true.’ ” 

Matsatsa, a Georgetown commit, holds 12 school records (the 400, 500, 800, 1,000, 1,500, 1,600 and the mile indoor, and the 800, 1,500, 1,600, mile and 3,200 outdoor) and four state records (800 indoor, 1,500, 1,600 and mile outdoor), and he has the third-fastest result all-time nationally in the 800 indoor. 

Though he has had tremendous success in individual events, Matsatsa’s unbridled positivity also makes him the consummate teammate. 

“By far the best part about [Matsatsa] is his positive and supportive attitude,” St. Andrew’s senior Cameron Jones said. “Whether it was waking me up to warm up for our [4×400] relays or cheering up teammates after a disappointing performance, he’s always a source of positivity on our team.” 

“Because of his positive attitude toward himself and the world around him,” Zastrow said, “he can concentrate on working hard without making it seem like a drudgery to the people around him.” 

Matsatsa will run the 800 at the Brooks PR Invitational on Wednesday in Seattle and the New Balance Nationals on Sunday in Philadelphia — meets for elite runners where he will again try to prove his mother’s prescience. 

“Results don’t come from luck,” he said. “It comes from how hard you train. People can be naturally talented, but you still have to work and perfect everything for you to actually be at the top of your sport.” 

Source: msn.com 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *