Matthew Elliott Analyzes the Starlight Run Elite Boys Race

MileSplit SC asked Matthew Elliott (Green Sea-Floyds 2003) to share his perspective of the elite boys 5,000-meter to conclude Saturday night's Starlight Run. Read what he has to say. Ty Jones shared a statement about the race. Elliott's brother is the coach at Christ Church.


This was my first experience witnessing the beauty and chaos of the Starlight Run. I arrived early to support my brother, John Mark Elliott, who coaches the girls team at Christ Church Episcopal School.

Since I was at a cross country meet for the first time as a spectator, my main goal was to figure out the best viewing point for the races. After watching every race from 6 p.m. on, I determined that the home side bleachers inside the stadium met all of my viewing needs. I still cannot get over that I got to sit in the stands of a football stadium and enjoy a cross country meet as if I were in a movie theater.

From the top level of the stands, you can basically see every single key spot on the race course as well as the one mile and two mile markers. I have never seen a meet this large held on a high school campus. I have zero idea how Riverside pulls this meet off but a huge hats off to their coaching staff and administration.

My brother's team was competing in the girls elite race at 9 p.m., but I knew I wanted to stay for the final race of the night as on paper it looked to be as entertaining as any state meet come November. I know invitationals like this are designed to get top teams from across the state together mid season, but the Starlight Run hit the nail on the head more squarely than ever. Correct me if I am wrong but 37 / 50 of the top five teams from the state meet last year were on site. I honestly could not believe that stat.

The elite boys race started much like many of the others with a blistering first 400m. However, I was surprised when the top three guys settled down and seemingly worked together for the next two loops. I have always felt as a runner (and coach) that if athletes can work together more in races the desired product will be much more achievable. Ty Jones, Grayson Gibbons and Knox Young likely complete much of their training solo as they are all on another level so this was refreshing to see as the race unfolded.

I also really enjoyed watching
Isaac Campbell and Tanner Long from Fort Mill fight really hard to keep themselves in the top pack of the race for as long as they could. From my vantage point, two miles was hit in approximately 9:52 and I was really curious to see when a major move was going to be made. It happened on the track at the beginning of loop three as Young made a bold move to reconnect with the top group.

I would be curious to know his race plan as he obviously wanted to run a conservative first two miles and roll that last lap, but did doing all that work to catch up to the main group take too much energy??!!...I guess we will never know!

As the top boys hit 1,000 -meters to go, Jones really started to take control of the race. This was my first time seeing him run in person and I could not have been more impressed. His running form is better than most college runners I have seen as he has zero wasted movement, a high cadence, and the perfect posture to allow him to run with his whole body.

I was blown away when Ty and Knox hit the baseball field the final time, not only in how fast they were running but in how much they had gapped the field. I did not get a split on their last mile but it had to be at or just under 4:40. Knox closed very well the last 400 meters but Ty had endless gears last night holding on for the win and new course record.

I had an extremely good time at the Starlight Run. This is a PR course but not for the reasons many may think. Yes it is mostly flat and has great competition, but the loop style course, spectator support, fields that are equally matched and nighttime atmosphere really set this meet apart from others in my mind.

Congratulations to Ty, Knox, Greer Middle College Charter, and Fort Mill (holy depth) for really putting on a show last night. The state of South Carolina running is in good hands, and I am proud of how far our sport has come.

Ty Young says the following after the race and course record, "I loved going out there tonight and just competing for a win. In my opinion, this is the best race in South Carolina regardless of difficulty. I enjoyed competing with my guys in the race and loved battling it out with Knox in the end. Competition always brings the best out of the two of us. Really excited and looking forward to what this race brings for the state of South Carolina and how it will just propel the guys in the rest of the state to compete to the best of their ability."