Torrey Pine’s Carpowich Can No Longer “Sneak Up” On the Competition
BY CHRIS RUFF
San Diego, CA — Matt Carpowich had decided shortly after his sophomore track season that football would no longer be a part of his athletic future. He wouldn’t be sacrificing much fame by ending his career as a backup quarterback on the Torrey Pines JV football squad, and the extra time he would suddenly have would make maintaining his 4.05 GPA that much easier.
What happened next in Carpowich’s athletic career would surprise nearly everyone who is anyone in the San Diego X-Country and Track and Field scene. Young Carpowich has two very good friends, Victor Pontis and Trent Newquist, who ran cross country for the Falcons while Matt played football in the fall. Though he had no intention of quitting football for the purpose of joining cross country, after speaking to his friends, he did precisely that. “Cross Country was just a sport that I thought would go well with track. I just wasn’t enjoying football that much and didn’t feel I was a very good football player,” explained Carpowich.
Carpowich had just finished a track season in which his specialty was the 400 meters. His 53.12 in the open 400 was certainly better than average for a sophomore, but as the next eighteen months would show, Carpowich’s transition to cross country has been anything but “average.” Just imagine being long time coach, Brent Thorne, and watching the backup JV quarterback staying with the lead group of one of San Diego’s perennial cross country powers. From those first two weeks of his first cross country season, things have gotten very serious and very fast.
By the end of the 2009 Cross-Country season Carpowich had finished 2nd in a very tough San Diego CIF Division I Championship. A race won by sophomore standout and former age group national finalist Darren Fahy, of LaCosta Canyon. Fahy would later go on to run a sub 9:00 3200 in the CA State Track and Field Championships. Keep in mind, Carpowich was not a former participant in youth cross country, or someone who had a pension for running distance and finally decided to compete. He was quite literally, a lifelong football player who decided to run cross country. When asked if his 2nd place finish in the 2009 Section Championship surprised him, Carpowich explained that “It kinda surprised me. I hadn’t gone out with the leaders to begin the race. I was able to just hang on to Alfredo Rodriguez, and out kick him at the end.” Carpowich’s confidence had been growing with his gradual climbing of the varsity hierarchy within the Torrey Pines program. He had gone from hanging with the pack in workouts to eventually becoming a clear #1 runner for the Falcons after they lost their leader and former #1, Andrew Ward, to injury.
There would be no “sneaking up on people” in store for Carpowich come the 2010 track season, but his performances on the track were nothing if not impressive. In just a year, the junior had transitioned from a 53 second 400 meter runner to a 1:53.25 state meet qualifier in the 800 meters and 4:13.40 four-lapper on the track. On a very hot day in San Diego last may, Carpowich scored key points for Torrey Pines in both the 1600 (3rd @4:13.80) and 800 (2nd @1:54.59), in leading the Falcons to the SDCIF team championship.
Surprisingly the success Carpowich has attained has been achieved on a rather low mileage diet plan prescribed by his coaches. “We usually run about 40-45 miles per week, with a max of about 50 (miles),” explained Carpowich, a modest total by most of today’s high profile programs’ standards. The relatively low mileage program at Torrey Pines bodes well for Carpowich’s success at the next level. Carpowich will take his considerable athletic talent and his 4.05 GPA to Stanford next fall where he will run both cross country and track for Jason Dunn’s Cardinal. “I liked the school and the area. After talking to the coach (Dunn) and hearing of how well all of the freshman have improved I liked what I heard. Also, just the fact that academically it’s a good opportunity that not a lot of people have….even really good runners that want to go there have to really succeed as a student,” explained Carpowich.
If anything could describe the 2010 Cross Country season for Carpowich, it would be “improvement.” Carpowich ran over a minute faster in his first invite of the season, the Bronco Round-Up while finishing in 3rd place behind Fahy (LaCosta Canyon) and Ryan Urie (Patrick Henry). In his second comparable race to 2009, Carpowich bested his time at the Mt Carmel Movin’ Shoes Invite by a stunning 1:54 in route to his 14:59 (2.95mile) finishing time, placing 3rd in the Senior Division race behind Nationally ranked runners, Elias Gedyon (Loyola), and Lane Werley (King). Perhaps his best performance of the 2010 Cross season was the run he turned in at the Mt. Sac invitational. Carpowich finished 4th in the race, with the 5th fastest time of the day with a 14:40 for the 2.95 mile course, bettering his 2009 performance by 1:13 on the legendary Mt. Sac course. That success continued as Carpowich won the Palomar League Meet with a pedestrian 15:53 (5K) that he described as a “controlled effort.”
(Photo above; from left, Lane Werley, Matt Carpowich, Darren Fahy and Elias Gedyon at the 800 mark of the Mt. Sac Invitational)
With as much success as Carpowich has had as an individual, the Falcons have struggled as a team this season. “The team just hasn’t been able to put it all together at the same time, except maybe at Mt. Sac. At league (where the team finished a disappointing 4th overall) it was just a combination of some nagging injuries and the fact that we didn’t have Ward (Andrew Ward), who will be back for Saturday’s San Diego CIF Championships. We still want to get a top 3 finish as a team this week,” said Carpowich.
As for his individual goals, Carpowich expressed his desire “to run sub 4:10 in the 1600 and sub 9:00 in the 3200” in track season. As far as his cross country goals, “I’d like to place top 10 at State and maybe top 5 in Division I, and I’d really like to qualify for Footlocker …I think it would be really cool to run at Morley Field for Nationals. I think my performance at Mt. Sac this year gave me some confidence for Regionals,” said Carpowich.
Matt Carpowich has set some lofty goals. The only certainty is that he can no longer “sneak up” on his competition. The backup JV quarterback has become a legitimate national caliber cross country and track athlete. Who could have imagined?
Track PR’s: 800 (1:53.25) 1600 (4:13.40)
Accomplishments: 2nd-2009 SDCIF DI Cross Country, 3rd 2010 SDCIF 1600, 2nd 2010 SDCIF 800.