Q&A with Mark Matusak

Sept. 20, 2006

BERKELEY, Calif. - Sophomore Mark Matusak is one of the young distance stars on the California cross country and track and field teams. Matusak earned Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year honors in 2005 after finishing 17th at the conference meet to lead all rookies. The product of Torrance, Calif., looks forward to making his season debut at the Stanford Invitational Sept. 30. He recently sat down with CalBears.com to discuss his time at Cal and his interests outside of running.

CalBears.com: What are your expectations for the team and for you personally this season?

Matusak: 'My goal for the team is that we run our best race at regionals. If everything works out, a great team performance at regionals hopefully will be enough to achieve the ultimate goal of getting a Cal men's team to the NCAA Championships. Individually, I want to continue to improve every race. I want my best races to be at the end of the season and then see where that takes me.'

CalBears.com: Has it been tough watching your teammates compete early on during the cross country season, or do you try to focus on it being part of your preparation for the Pac-10 and NCAA championships?

Matusak: 'I definitely feel more eager to go out and race sooner than later after watching my teammates race. I do look at it as more time to prepare for the later races while keeping the body and mind fresh. I really think it's a great coaching strategy by Coach Sandoval.'

CalBears.com: What did it mean to you to be selected the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year last year?

Matusak 'It was a huge honor to be recognized as Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. Going into the season, I knew I wanted to be right in the mix with the rest of the freshmen in the Pac-10, but it never even crossed my mind that I could win an award. Winning it was definitely a welcomed surprise.'

CalBears.com: What has been your most memorable moment so far in your Cal career?

Matusak: 'I have two - placing third as a team at the Pac-10 Cross Country Championships and placing third in the Big Meet 5000m, which really got the Cal crowd going. These moments really signify the strides the Cal distance program is making along with the whole track and field program.'

CalBears.com: 'What has been your favorite place you've competed?

Matusak: 'Aside from Edwards Stadium here at Cal, I would have to say Hayward Field (Eugene, Ore.) is probably my favorite place that I have competed.The atmosphere at Pac-10s for track and field was amazing.'

CalBears.com: How has coach Tony Sandoval helped you improve?

Matusak: 'Basically, his whole approach to training and racing makes sense. Coach Sandoval has really helped me improve by telling me what little things I have to do to get better. He has also been really good about getting me collegiate racing experience without doing too much.'

CalBears.com: How did you get your start running?

Matusak: 'I started running when I was in fourth grade. My elementary school held a Field Day, and I happened to beat the fastest sixth grader in the 50 and 100-yard dashes. After I won, my friend told me I should run track for school, so I did. I ended up winning my first 400m. Since that time, I have really enjoyed running and competing.'

CalBears.com: What do you enjoy doing besides running?

Matusak: 'When I'm not training, I enjoy going to the beach and watching movies.'

CalBears.com: Have you selected a major yet, and what is your favorite class this semester?

Matusak: 'I haven't declared a major yet, but I am really leaning towards integrative biology and psychology. My favorite class this semester is AfroAmerican R1B. So far, the novel we have been reading has been good and the discussion is very open ended.'

CalBears.com: What did you do last summer?

Matusak: 'I didn't do anything too exciting. I ran a lot and took statistics.'

CalBears.com: How do you think your teammates describe you?

Matusak: 'This is a tough one. I'd say driven and serious when it's time to getdown to work, but laid back and funny when we are just hanging out.'

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