Hey everyone, my name is Kate Mattox and I'm a former Starkville High School cross country and track runner. Now I run for the University of Southern Mississippi, and I absolutely love it! Shout out to Mr. Mathews for running MS MileSplit and keeping up with all athletes, current and former. I love being able to keep up with everyone's running careers.
My freshman year was more than I even imagined it to be (and you can ask anyone who knows me, I had high expectations). I was honesty a little nervous going into college because I had looked forward to it for so long that I was scared it wouldn't be all that it was cracked up to be. BUT IT WAS. That's not to say there weren't any trials and obstacles, but I couldn't have asked for a better freshman year.
Cross country season went pretty well. I progressed about as much as I expected to. At the end of my summer training, I was dealing with some issues and had to take some time off running and cross train. I was obviously nervous about coming in and not having all the mileage that I intended on having coming in. However, after a lot of time spent in the training room, I got it taken care of and was back doing what I love! I was out of shape, but I was back, so I couldn't complain. It took about three weeks to get my mojo back and feeling more confident. We got to go to some pretty fun meets! I love getting to travel and to race against such amazing competitors. I loved my teammates and my coaches. Getting to race against such strong runners and enjoying the team atmosphere and team dynamics really helped me to improve my times in XC.
After XC was indoor track, and I was excited about racing in some quicker and shorter events. I was dealing with some foot and shin issues and had to cross train in the beginning of the season which was a bummer. But we took care of it, and I still worked out in the pool or on the bike each day to try and maintain my fitness. I was so happy when I was able to run again. Having to cross train over actually running really made me appreciate being able to run again. I was pretty happy with my season over all. I finally got to the point where I could consistently break 5 minutes in the mile (which had been my goal for so long). The indoor conference meet was so fun, and I loved being on the DMR race. That race was so special to me and I'll never forget it!
After indoor season was outdoor, my favorite of the three this year. I loved the 1500m race. The progression I made was more than I expected. I didn't really think I even had much of a chance of advancing to regionals before the season started. I honestly avoided thinking much about it because I didn't think I was capable of it. I had a good indoor season, but good is relative. I still got my tail kicked by the big dawgs. In outdoor I feel like everything started to come together. We started our season at FSU, and I was determined to have a good race that weekend. I had a rough week going into that race, and I decided that the week was going to end on a much better note. I wasn't going to walk off that track regretting a thing. And that's what fueled me to run a time I wouldn't have thought possible even a month before then. After that race, coach and I knew that it could be a season that we didn't quite expect. And it was a season I didn't expect. I ran times I didn't know I was capable of running (at least this year) and hung in there with girls that I didn't think I could hang with. Conference meet was a weekend that I will never forget. It was so special because USM won for the first time since 1992! It was so awesome to be part of that experience. I ran PRs in the 1500m and 5000m and was so thankful for that. Regionals was also a weekend I'll never forget. It actually didn't go well for me at all. I ran the slowest time of the season (other than the conference prelim) at one of the most important meets. My body felt completely different than it had felt all season. It was so weird. But I will never forget it because I like to turn my bad races into fuel for my future races. The disappointment I felt after that race was not a great feeling. I tried to keep in mind that it was a good season, but obviously I still thought about how bad my race went.
All in all, my first year was more than I could imagine. I'm so thankful for the opportunities that God blessed me with and for a team that pushes each other both on and off the track. I made some of my best friends from the team and I will always be grateful for that. I am so thankful for the amazing coaches that we have. It's not easy dealing with a team of 18 to 23 year olds, but somehow they manage to be amazing at it. God is so good. I'm so excited to get started with sophomore year in a few weeks!