Viral sprinting sensation Matthew Boling of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory (Houston, Texas) was named the 2018-19 Gatorade National Track and Field Athlete of the Year. The award comes as no surprise after Boling’s accomplishments on the track in 2019 racked up millions of views on social media. The 19-year-old was profiled in Sports Illustrated earlier this month.
Boling’s popularity skyrocketed when footage of him running a wind-aided 9.98 (+4.2m/s wind; legal marks are +2.0m/s and under) in the 100 meters captured the runner clocking the fastest all-conditions time by a high school athlete. The wind-legal high school record remains Trentavis Friday’s 10.00, which was set at the U.S. Junior Championships in July 2014. Boling’s wind-legal personal best of 10.113 has him tied for fourth all-time on Track and Field News’ high school record list. Boling also went viral in a second clip that showed him anchoring Strake Jesuit in a 4x400-meter relay and overcoming a significant gap with a 44.75 split.
Over the weekend, Boling won the 100 meters in a wind-aided 10.15 (+2.3m/s wind) and 200 meters in a personal best of 20.36 at the U.S.A. Track and Field U20 Championships in Miramar, Fla. Boling had to settle for third place in the long jump with a mark of 7.71 meters (1.9 m/s wind). Boling will represent the U.S. in the 100, 200 and potentially the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays at next month’s Pan American Junior Championships in San Jose Costa Rica.
Sports Illustrated briefly chatted with Boling on Wednesday to discuss his reaction to winning the Gatorade award, his past weekend and upcoming racing plans.
Sports Illustrated:What's it mean for you to be named the 2018-19 Gatorade National Track and Field Athlete of the year? This comes as a surprise to no one.
Matthew Boling: (Laughs) About three months ago, this was a goal in the works. I was thinking of all the different things that I needed to do to get this award. After the Texas Southern Relays happened and I ran the 100 and 200, I thought that if I keep this up then it could happen. It means a lot to me. Looking at the people who have won the award i the past, it means a lot to be part of that history.
SI: You just had a solid weekend in Florida. You've got Pan-Am Juniors coming up. What do you want to accomplish the rest of the summer in terms of wins or times?
MB: I want to win the sprint double at Pan-Ams and PR in both events. That would be big for me. The wind isn't in my control but getting a wind-legal mark would be great.
SI: What's your reaction like when you see the wind reading is above the legal mark?
MB: It depends. If it's like +3m/s then I'm like, 'Whatever.' When it's something like +2.3m/s, I'll usually be like, 'Ugh...really? You couldn't have slowed down for a second?!?' (Laughs)
SI: As you’re starting to take on better competition, you might lose a few times. What do you want to think you’ll learn from losing? You finished third in the long jump this weekend so what did you take away from that?
MB: It's hard. For the long jump at this past meet, it was difficult because it was between my 100s. At the Great Southwest Classic, I faced some tough competition from Taylor Banks from South Florida. Unfortunately, he had a really good drive phase but pulled up around 50 meters because he pulled his hamstring. Facing people who have a better start or other parts of the race that are better than me, helps me focus on those things. That happened and I got my drive phase down where I was able to run 10.13 in a prelim while shutting it down toward the end of the race. I couldn't replicate that in the finals because it was five minutes after the long jump so I was just tired. Running against competition even if I don't win will help me. I just have to tune out what people say if I lose.
SI: I know you’re not racing at the U.S. senior championships in Des Moines but is there anyone on the senior level that you want to race soon or this season just to go head-to-head?
MB: I don't know. I guess it would be people I look up to like Noah Lyles or Christian Coleman just because I know they can run really, really fast. Racing against them would only make me better. I watch Christian Coleman's block starts before races just to get ready and know what I need to do. Noah Lyles has one of the best top-end speeds that I've ever seen. Racing against people like that would definitely help me improve.
SI: I read in the IAAF recap from this weekend that you wrote in a note on your iPhone, “I will never take an opportunity for granted again” in 2018. What do you have written in your notes now?
MB: I don't think I've written anything since then. (Laughs) I just wrote it because I remember when we were deciding who would be on the finals team for the 4x400 in Finland, it was determined that it would be the four fastest runners. I was just so nervous. I wanted to run but didn't really want to run because of those nerves. Afterward, I told myself not to be. I had this great opportunity to run and so many people would want to be in this position. I can't take it for granted. Now, on big stages, I don't get nervous and think of it as an opportunity.
SI:When you see the list of names ahead of you on the all-time list, like Trentavis Friday. he never ran faster than his 10.00. What do you and your coaches hope to do differently to avoid a career like that?
MB: I have a lot of room to improve in the weight room. It helps me that I didn't start running the 100 until this year so I definitely still have some room to improve. I need to clean up the first part of my race real bad. I know that if I can do that then my time would drop. These things come with time. Right now, I'm trying to get to get to college and have stuff to improve on.
SI: One last thing. Ted Ginn Jr. said that he would race anyone for $10,000 or better. You replied with "Bet." Have you ever heard back from Ted Ginn Jr.’s race challenge?
MB: Yeah. I didn't hear back from him but it was maybe his manager who was trying to set something up.
SI: This isn't happening though, right?
MB: Probably not. I told him that I wasn't going to do anything until my season's done but I don't know what would happen with that.
SI: You can't take him up on the money.
MB: Yeah. I can't or else I'd lose my NCAA eligibility.