Matt Jablonski, 2011, Loyola Blakefield
by Nelson Coffin and Derek Toney
Soccer may have been Matt Jablonski’s “first love,” but running was long in the blood of the former Loyola Blakefield standout. Jablonski is VSN’s Boys Track and Field’s No. 1 Distance Runner of the Decade.
“My dad has been always been a runner,” said Jablonski, whose father Ed, is a triathlete and competed in multiple Ironman competitions. “I went to a couple of road races he had when I was younger and eventually I realized I might be a pretty good runner too.”
Good enough to win multiple MIAA championships and capture the mile run title at the prestigious Penn Relays Carnival in Philadelphia in 2011. Jablonski was the All-Met Outdoor Track Performer of the Year as a senior in 2011.
In a three-week window, Jablonski was runner-up in the 3,200 (8 minutes, 50.59 seconds) at the Arcadia Invitational in California and placed first at the Penn Relays with a personal-best time of 4:10.37.
“It can be difficult performing at that level every time I race, but it’s something that I think I worked pretty hard for,” said Jablonski.
The Penn Relay performance would be the last high school event for Jablonski, who missed the remainder of the 2011 spring campaign with a stress fracture of the sacrum (tailbone). He missed the chance to three-peat as the MIAA 1,600 champ and win a second straight 3,200 title.
Jablonski collected eight MIAA running crowns including back-to-back cross country titles (2010 and 2009). He was selected VSN’s No. 1 Cross Country Runner of the Decade.
Jablonski ran cross country and played center-midfield for the Dons’ soccer team for three years before focusing on running.
“He was extremely talented as a freshman and had an incredibly hard work ethic,” said Loyola track coach Chris Cucuzzella.
“Soccer was my first love,” Jablonski said.
Yet running was clearly going to afford him the best opportunity toward being a Division I athlete. His sterling accomplishments earned him a scholarship to running powerhouse University of Oregon.
“Oregon has such a rich running tradition,” he said. “Just being a part of that environment and in a program where I had the opportunity to be on a team with world-class athletes and win national championships was special.”
Injuries, however, limited Jablonski, who performed in 21 indoor and outdoor competitions for the Ducks.
“I went through a lot as an athlete at Oregon,” he explained. “Athletically, you’re held to a high bar every day for four years, which brings out the best in you, but can also take a toll mentally and physically. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish, but the reality is there were guys on many days that were simply just better than me.”
Jablonski, who works as an account executive for Mapbox in northern Virginia, has traded in his running shoes for cycling cleats while competing with a cycling team.
“My background as a runner compliments my new athletic focus area, which is cycling,” he said. “The development I went through all those years as a runner has allowed me to have some good results in the local amateur cycling circuit.”
Editor’s note: High school statistics and records according to Athletic.net