Crusaders shine at TSU relays

By Liam Smith ’20, Sports Editor

The Strake Jesuit track team had a successful experience Friday and Saturday, March 16 to 17, at the Texas Southern University Relays, earning one bronze, one silver, and three gold medals. Hampered by a host of untimely injuries entering the weekend, the Crusaders gained valuable experience and exposure as a result of the competition.

The 4×100 relay team competed lacking their usual third leg participant due to a hamstring injury. Unfortunately, that same hamstring injury bug (affecting two other varsity runners on the team) bit Matthew Drury, the JV call-up. Nevertheless, the team had the third fastest time in the prelims. Coach Chad Collier, however, chose to scratch the team from the 4×100 finals. “We don’t want to strain Matt,” Coach Collier said. “We got enough season left, but not enough guys.”

The Distance Medley Relay team placed second with a time of  11:07.37. Gabriel Mount and Sean Burrell lead the race with strong 1200-meter and 400-meter legs respectively. Unfortunately, Adam Jimenez (a sub-2 minute 800-meter runner) lost the team’s significant lead in his leg with an uncharacteristic 2:07 time. When asked about the time, he shook his head saying “It’s this pollen. I can’t breathe through my nose. Hopefully, I’ll be back in good form for districts.” Adam didn’t mention the 12 mph headwinds gusting down the back straight; Joshua Chretien (another sub-2 minute 800-meter runner) had to battle those winds for four consecutive laps in his 1600-meter leg. The difference the wind made: a 4:49 mile—19 seconds slower than his personal best. The Distance Medley Relay team was not particularly happy with their result; however, they will be focused on gold in their next meet at the Victor Lopez Classic.

The pair of Anthony Gregory and Will Botard won 1st and 3rd in the 1600-meter respectively. The opening lap saw Gregory take the lead position—he would hold it for the rest of the race. By the third lap, a pack of six runners separated from the field: Gregory in front, jostling with Lamar runner Bryce Cox, and Botard challenging the pack group from the rear. On the back straight of the last 400 meters, the sophomore Gregory gapped the pack and kicked his way to a 4:25.06 mile–a personal best. The savvy Senior, Will Botard, saved enough energy to kick past three people and almost catch Kael Kirk of Klein Collins (4.26.26 2nd), missing by 19 hundredths of a second short (4.26.45 3rd).

The Boy’s 100-meter final was the only race at the TSU Relays where everyone at the meet stopped what they were doing and either stood up, or whipped their phone out to record. What could a 1,000-plus people be so interested in? It’s a high school race right?

No, it was a race against the world, courtesy of Matthew Boling.

The last time he ran a 100-meter dash was in seventh grade; he asked Coach Collier if he could run the event on a whim, despite not training for it. He had previously run in the Boy’s 200-meter final finishing with the #1 high school time, #1 college time, and the #4 time internationally (20.58) this season. When the announcer was listing the statistics over the PA, one of his relay teammates tapped his shoulder: “Hey, hey Matthew. They’re talking about you…You’re 4th in the world in the 200.” Matthew grinned, gave a handshake, and continued with his preparation for the 100-meter finals.

That was it! No jumping for joy, no hysterics. All one could see was determination and calmness.

When the race finally came, he had his 10.22 seconds of glory–plus the whole crowd’s attention, reaction and ovation. This time ranked #5 in the world for this season!

The name, Boling, had become a legend that day; people clamored to know who he was, what the heck Strake ‘JE-suit’ was, what social media accounts he had, if he could take pictures, who the parents and the coach were, and how they had never heard of the Georgia commit before. When asked about how well Matthew Boling stood against history, Coach Collier replied, “He’s the best sprinter we’ve had at Strake. And his times are top-5 in the state of Texas, ever.”

If you didn’t know, now you do.