Green Sea-Floyds alumnus Matthew Elliott's Eugene trip experience

Trip to Eugene, Oregon
June 21-June 28

The sport of track and field has provided many opportunities for me to compete at the highest level in the United States.  The United States Outdoor Track and Field Championships is the highest level of competition a track athlete can compete at in our country, and I had the privilege of competing there for the second time a few weeks ago.

My name is Matthew Elliott, and I am from Green Sea.  Green Sea is located in Horry County, approximately 35 miles northwest of North Myrtle Beach.  Green Sea-Floyds High School is a Class A school where I ran cross-country for six years (grades 7-12) and track for six years (grades 7-12).  

In high school my best times in the middle distance events were 2:05 for 800, 4:42 for 1600, 10:50 for 3200 and 16:59 for 5K (cross country).  I have since run 1:50 for 800, 3:58 for the full mile, and 13:55 for 5000.

This year, I automatically qualified for the U.S.A. Championships with the "A" Standard for the 1,500 meters and was one of 34 athletes to compete in my event.  I finished 21st in the preliminary rounds and can say that I am one of the top 25 milers in the United States for the year 2011.  

At 25 years of age, this sport is still very new to me, and I continue to feel a tremendous amount of joy each time I get to work out or race on the track.  Track is the sport I love and the sport I feel that I was created to do.

My trip to Oregon had many life-long memories.  There are no words to describe the feeling of running on Hayward Field.  There is no other place on earth like it and for the devoted track athlete, Hayward Field brings a little piece of heaven that only few have experienced from South Carolina.  Below are several pictures that highlighted my week in Eugene.

Pre's Rock

This is a memorial for Steve Prefontaine–one of America’s most promising distance runners from the late 60′s and early 70′s who died tragically in a car accident at the age of 24.  This picture was taken at the spot of his death on the side of a residential street in the hills of Eugene.

Although I ran the last 400 of my semi-final heat in 56.9, I still finished 12th of 12 in my race.  I got "smoked" on the last lap of this race, but I learned so much in terms of race tactics, strategy and positioning, and next year I hope to make a much stronger push at the top 12 for the finals of the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Calesio Newman

Calesio Newman was a high school teammate of mine at Green Sea-Floyds.  He qualified for the U.S.A. Championships in the 100 (10.14) and the 200 (20.67).  He missed the semi-final round of the 100 by one-hundredth of a second and missed the finals of the 200 by one spot with a time of 20.53.  Congratulations Calesio!!

Pristine trails

Eugene has the best trail system of any city I have ever visited.  The town has numerous parks like this one with smooth, packed wood chip or fine gravel trails–perfect for distance running!

As you can see, Eugene holds a dear place in my heart, and I cannot wait to run there next year in my first Olympic Trials.  In high school I was recruited by three schools:  Francis Marion University, Spartanburg Methodist and my alma mater -- Presbyterian College.  I have always had a dream of running my best at whatever level of competition I am presented.  I was a two-time state champion at the Class A level in high school track, a two-time all-conference performer in the South Atlantic Conference (Division II), a four time all-conference performer in the Big South (Division I). I hold five school records at Winthrop University where I attended graduate school.  

Currently, I am the second native born South Carolinian to have broken the 4-minute mile barrier and have two corporate sponsors -- Brooks Running and GU Energy.  God had and still has a plan for me.  He put the right people in my path to help develop me into the professional athlete that I have become today.  My message to you is to always follow your dreams -- no matter what the circumstances may be and RUN HAPPY!