Q & A with Coach Mathre

There have been 29 MIAC Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships. Amazingly, the University of St. Thomas has won them all. The Tommies' most recent title to put them one shy of 30 in a row came earlier this month, as UST captured the 2013 MIAC Men's Indoor Track and Field Championship at St. Olaf's Tostrud Center in Northfield, Minn.

The MIAC Media Blog Championship Coach Q&A returns with St. Thomas Head Men's Track and Field Coach Steve Mathre. Coach Mathre discusses his team's amazing streak of success that spans nearly three decades, as well as some of his top performers including four-time MIAC Indoor Field Athlete-of-the-Year Eyo Ekpo. The Tommies will host the Outdoor Championships this spring as they look to continue their legacy.

MIAC Media Blog - Championship Coach Q&A
Steve Mathre, St. Thomas Men's Indoor Track and Field

MIAC: First of all, congratulations on your 2013 MIAC Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championship. Your team has now won all 29 MIAC Indoor men’s titles. What does it feel like to carry a streak of success like that, and is there any pressure that comes along with it?

St. Thomas Head Coach
Steve Mathre
Mathre: We rarely speak in terms of needing to win the MIAC championships, but rather frame it as an opportunity to be a part of something special. Our tradition is strong, yet we never take for granted the effort required or the talent in our conference.   We talk more in terms of winning by paying attention to the little details that make a difference; the small things that when added up can lead to big things. We focus on workout execution in practice, staying healthy, maintaining a balance, training consistently, teammate support,  etc. – that if done individually, collectively as a team we will be in a position to win the MIAC team title.

MIAC: What were some of the keys to success for this year’s St. Thomas team? How does this particular team stand out among all your other past championship teams.

Mathre: We had a big contribution from a lot of event groups this year. Our goal is always to be well-balanced across the different events, but what sticks out to me is the tremendous team support athletes gave one another during the event. For example, it’s important that distance runners are engaged in what’s happening in the throwing events and that hurdlers know what’s on the line the 1,000 meters.  As coaches, we pre-score each conference meet before it begins to get a sense for the potential for different outcomes – we over-reached our potential on paper by breaking 200 points; something I thought, especially with a couple of key injuries, we could not have done. We were able to do this I think because of the great support our athletes gave each other. The team absolutely exceeded my expectations and I am very proud of them for that. 

MIAC: Eyo Ekpo was clearly a catalyst for your success, winning all three jumping events and earning MIAC Men’s Indoor Field Athlete-of-the-Year honors for the fourth-straight season. Talk about what he meant to this year’s team, and how important he’s been to St. Thomas over his amazing career.

Mathre:  Without question he’s a huge asset to his teammates and to our program. Aside from his athletic achievements, perhaps his biggest impact is his down-to-earth personality.  He’s a fierce competitor and a huge success, yet his teammates see him as regular guy who expects to be treated like everyone else.  He sets a great example for our younger athletes in the way he conducts himself.  Having just been voted by students and faculty as the ‘Tommie of the Year’ – says it all.  He’s as well-rounded and as quality an individual as you can find. We're proud of him as an athlete and moreso as a person.  

MIAC: Talk about some of the other tremendous individual and relay efforts that helped propel your team to victory.

Mathre:  was very impressed with our throws performances led by Bryan Thell and Abajemo Omot, who finished 1-2 and 2-1 in the shot and weight throw. Joe Wistrcill defended his 60-meter hurdles title after struggling mid-season. His performance was a big lift to our entire team. Sophomore Doug Thoresen was a double winner in the 400 meters and the 600 meters and showed his teammates how to win the close battles. Gavin Yseth won the Heptathlon title and continued our tradition in that event with several great performances. It’s difficult to list names because I will leave others out, but overall it was a great team effort.

Perhaps one of our best performances came from two time Decathlon champion Devin Dirth who no-heighted in the Heptathlon in High jump and ended his quest for a national qualifying mark. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, the fifth-year senior and two-time team captain went on the set several personal bests in his remaining events, including a 5th place finish in his 8th event of the weekend. He’s been very huge part of our program for years and I was very impressed how he composed himself and rallied back to score in the heptathlon and finish so strong.

MIAC: Up next is the outdoor season and the 2013 MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be hosted on your home track. Is your team looking forward to competing outdoors, and what are some of the differences between the two seasons?

Mathre: We are very excited about the outdoor season; especially hosting the MIAC meet in May. Our athletes have all the motivation they need and are happy to have another opportunity in front of them.

MIAC: Thanks a ton for joining the MIAC Media Blog, Coach Mathre! Congrats to your team on its amazing 29th title in a row, and we look forward to visiting St. Thomas this spring for the 2013 MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships!

The Championship Coach Q&A will continue next week with St. Thomas Women's Indoor Track and Field Coach Joe Sweeney and the two MIAC Swimming and Diving Championship coaches as well. Stay tuned.

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