The versatility of Matthew Spicer’s running ability has been on display this calendar year.

The Courtland junior was a Battlefield District, Region 4B and Class 4 state champion in the 200 meters. He also excelled in the 100 and 400 as a sophomore.

But Spicer doesn’t limit himself to the sprints. He was the Battlefield District winter track champion in the 1,000 last January, and he was also one of Courtland’s top cross country runners in the fall.

Cougars track and field coach J.C. Hall said Spicer is a gifted runner, but his dedication to the sport is the attribute that has him ready to lead the Cougars and their talented junior class to new heights as the indoor track and field season begins this week.

“He’s just very motivated, very focused,” Hall said. “He’ll do anything I ask. I can say, ‘I need you to run the half-mile today and he’ll say, ‘Yeah I’ll do it.’ We base all our sprinting around being able to be a quarter horse [400 runner] … So this winter he’ll be in that 300 and 500 when it’s all said and done.”

Spicer placed second in the state in the 500 in February with a time of 1:06.13, trailing only Patrick Atwell, who has since graduated from Fauquier High School.

Spicer said his goal is to finish around 1:04 this season. He was the region champion in the 300 (35.33) and plans to run that race in the 34-second range this winter.

He helped the Cougars win district and region team championships in the winter and spring season. He won his first outdoor state championship in the 200 in the spring.

Hall said Spicer is wired differently than most high school athletes.

“Some guys just aren’t real passionate about running,” Hall said. “You mention running and they’d rather lift weights or shoot hoops. So he’s a special breed in that regard. That alone is the reason why he’s so successful. He loves working on his craft.”

Spicer says he isn’t the only one with that mindset on Courtland, especially among the 11th-graders.

Jackson Vollbrecht is a standout junior thrower, who placed fourth in the state in the shot put in the spring. Junior Maurice Howard is an all-region sprinter. There’s also sprinter and jumper Sean Wray, distance runner Kyle Ernandes and pole vaulter Ian Richardson in that class.

With the graduation of all-state sprinter Zachary Wadas, who is now a freshman at East Carolina, Spicer has emerged as the leader.

Hall said Spicer must be the hardest worker on the team because he has to set the pace for the others.

“With the group of guys we have, it’s pretty fun,” Spicer said. “We all have the same mindset, so the training is a lot more efficient. Watching the way they train, I think we’ll have a great season.”

Spicer has certainly put in the work to build on his breakthrough sophomore campaign. After the spring season ended he competed in AAU Nationals and placed 10th in the country in the 400. He also trained with University of Mary Washington assistant track coach Anthony Wallace, a former Courtland and James Madison University star.

Spicer and Wallace focused on building strength for more explosive starts with the hopes that it leads to another stellar season.

“He has two more years left, so he’s got a lot still in front of him,” Hall said. “I look forward to it and I anticipate his times dropping even more than last year.”

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Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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