Bear Spotlight: Men’s Cross Country Senior Captains

Bear Spotlight: Men’s Cross Country Senior Captains

By Ellie Lieberman
Athletics Communications Intern

The No. 10 Washington University men's cross country team will compete in the 2019 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The men's race will begin at 10:45 a.m. ET.

The Bears men's team captains - Nick MatteucciNoah Trimark and Jack Sebok- reflected on all of the miles they've ran while on the Danforth Campus with Athletic Communications Intern Ellie Lieberman.


Nick Matteucci

Why did you choose WashU? 
I was looking for a school that would provide a great balance between academics and athletics, and it was clear that at WashU I could get the best of both worlds. More importantly, however, there was a clear sense of family within the team, and the longer I have been here, the more apparent and impactful that feeling of family has become for me.

What is your favorite event to compete in? 
While I'll compete in essentially any event from 800m to 5,000m, my favorite individual event is the 1,500m because I love the tactics and intensity of the race. However, the most rewarding event in my opinion is the distance medley relay (DMR) because it brings members from various distances together to work together, and the joy of competing together is so profound in that event. 

What's your favorite race you've competed in? 
It's hard to pick just one favorite race, but one of my favorites was at a DMR at Wartburg in 2018. We were afraid it was going to be a long shot to qualify for the Indoor National Meet, but after an incredible first leg by alumni Ethan Brodeur, it was clear we had a great opportunity. John Harry Wagner and alumni Thomas Gales followed that leg up with equally impressive legs, and despite a rough handoff on my end, I was able to finish up the race well, with the relay boasting the 2nd fastest time in the country and setting a new school record for the event.

What's your favorite "off-the-track" memory? 
Again, it is very hard to pick a single memory that is my favorite, but one of my favorites was at the 2017 Outdoor National Championships my freshmen year. The performances were incredible, with every individual and relay making it to finals, the Women's team winning the national title, Deko Ricketts winning the 800m, and personally achieving my first All-American honors. However, it was the group dynamic and support that made that weekend so special. Having 40+ people drive and fly to the middle of nowhere Ohio to support the team created an incredible atmosphere, and I remember at the end of the meet having this overwhelming flood joy and gratefulness that really made me realize just how lucky I was to be a part of such a phenomenal group. 

Why did you decide to major in chemical engineering?
In high school, I began to find a passion for math, physics, and chemistry. Chemical engineering offers a good mix of the three and offers the opportunity to pursue some of the world's most pressing challenges, such as mitigating climate change, building sustainable societies, and improving access to clean water.


Noah Trimark 

Why did you choose to come to WashU? 
I came to WashU because for me it seemed like an excellent balance of rigorous academics and quality athletics. When I visited WashU on my recruiting trip, I remember finding something even more special - a family. I saw members of the the cross country and track teams enjoying close and meaningful relationships that were not based only on performances but rather in who they were as people. I saw WashU as a place where I could develop meaningful and lasting relationships with my teammates.

What is your favorite event to compete in and why? 
I love running cross country because of the heavy team component. Like I mentioned previously, the community created by the cross country program is something special. This means that racing in cross country doesn't feel like an individual sport. It's a true team atmosphere in that the success of one person is the success of the entire team and vice versa. I think that's one of the special things about running at WashU. We care for each other and race for each other.

What is your most memorable race at WashU and why? 
My junior year of cross country at the Pre-Nationals meet, there were two races. The first of which was the top-6 members of the competing teams. The second race was the open race with everyone else. As the eighth man on our team, I was placed in the open race. I remember Stiles saying to us before we started that the results of this secondary race (while not scored) represented the future of our program. Success in this race would be a key indicator of where we could be as a team in the next few years. I remember hearing that and taking that to heart. The entire race I remember sitting in a strong group of WashU runners near the front of the pack. That was a spectacular experience to be surrounded by so many teammates. With about 1 kilometer to go, I remember looking towards the front of the race and thinking that I should be there. I surged and soon realized that two other teammates had followed suit. It was a spectacular experience to go 2-3-4 in that race and that feeling is something I will never forget. It's also a reflection of where we are this year. Those same guys now make up our scoring line up.

What is your favorite non-track memory at WashU? 
My senior design project this semester has really been a fantastic experience. And not because of what we were building. I think just the fact that I was working with smart, and talented people is an experience that I will not soon forget. I think that's one thing that's really special about WashU. I can be in-class with people of such varied interests, and yet each one of them will have something valuable and interesting to bring to the conversation.

Why did you choose to major in mechanical engineering? 
In high school I realized that I wanted to pursue a degree in STEM. However, I didn't know what I wanted to pursue post-collegiately. I chose mechanical engineering because I knew it would give me tangible skills, while also giving me the ability to explore opportunities beyond engineering. This has played to my advantage as I will be starting my career as a business analyst. That's one of the beautiful things about WashU. No matter what your degree is, you can truly choose to do anything.


Jack Sebok 

Why did you choose to come to WashU?
I chose to attend WashU because I knew I would be able to receive a great education in addition to being able to compete during both semesters in XC and Track. On my visit during my senior year of high school, I was able to sit down and meet for a while with a chemical engineering professor which showed me how much the professors care about students, regardless of whether they are a current student, alumni, or prospective student. That was a game changer for me that I wasn't exposed to elsewhere.

What is your favorite event to compete in and why?
I love the steeplechase. The barriers add an extra component to the race and force you to race dynamically. 

What is your most memorable race at WashU and why?
My most memorable race was probably the 3000m steeplechase at the 2018 UAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. I was super nervous because it was my first race at the conference championships, and only the third steeple of my career. Even though this was an away meet, the atmosphere on the track was incredible and everyone was in tune with this race. My teammates and I went 1-2-3-4 in the race which was an incredible experience and one I won't forget.

What is your biggest lesson learned from Coach Stiles?
Stiles has implemented a culture of servant leadership, which has become especially relevant to me the past two years as an upperclassman. This is the importance of leading others by serving them. As a result, the seniors are often the ones on the team who are cleaning the bus after meets, cleaning up after meals, etc. To me, this is an incredible mindset to take in creating a culture where leaders are loved and respected on a team and is applicable far beyond just athletics. 

Why did you choose to major in chemical engineering?
I initially chose chemical engineering because I really enjoyed math and chemistry as a high school senior and figured that chemical engineering was the next logical step. But upon taking classes in the major, I quickly realized chemical engineering was more than just that. I immediately enjoyed all of the problem-solving skills developed in the major and the applications that can be made to problems in the real world.