The XC Countdown: Matt Lepine of Middletown South

The XC Countdown is a series of interviews previewing the 2017 cross country season brought to us by Jordan Brannan, a two-time winner of the Indoor Meet of Champions 3200 meter.  He'll be joining NJ MileSplit for some summer cross country coverage. Brannan graduated from Colts Neck this past spring and will be attending Iona College this coming fall. - Robert Kellert

5th 5k returner @ 15:34 ✓
13th Holmdel returner @ 16:22 ✓
9:36 2 Mile ✓
4:23 1600 ✓

Interviewed July 11th 2017
130 days until the Meet of Champions

Q. How is your summer training going so far?
A. Pretty well. My [Spring] season was cut short by sickness so I got to start in mid June so I have been training for a few weeks now.  I did a 3 mile tempo today in 5:40 pace so I feel like I'm in good shape for how early it is.

Q. How many miles a week have you been doing?
A. When I started out I was in the high 30s per week and it's moved up to low to mid 40s. Hopefully by the end of the summer going into the school year I'll be in the high 40s and close to 50 miles a week.

Q. Do you have any partners you train with?
A. There are a few college alumni that come back and train with the team so they will be with me during more difficult workouts.

Q. Your first tempo was this week. When do you start ramping up in workouts?
A. July is the build up phase and we have tempos once a week just to get the body moving quickly but August is when official practice starts and we'll be doing hill workouts, longer intervals and longer long runs.

Q. How are you making sure your season peaks as late as you want it to?
A. I won't be running any dual meets this year if there are any. Last year I peaked for Shore Coaches in October and that was too early so I want to be racing a lot less in September and October so I can have a lot left in November.

Q. Are you the team captain?
A. All of the seniors are co-captains but I am kind of the main one. There were 2 seniors on the team last year so I was also a captain last year.

Q. What are your goals for this year?
A. My spring track season was my worst season I'd ever had because of my bronchitis, so I'm using that as motivation to bounce back. The class of 2017 had so many powerful guys so I'm hoping to really step up my game and not only be one of the top guys in the Shore, but the state as well.

Q. Is there anybody in particular you look forward to racing this season?
A. Yes, two runners actually. The first is Damien Dilcher because last year at the Battle at OCP we hammered the last half mile and I started to pull away but he hung on and out kicked me for the win so I definitely want him back for that. The other is Matthew Schaefer because we've been neck and neck in cross country and he beat me out for the last All-Shore spot so I want to stay as close to him as I can.

Q. How can you describe your racing style?
A. Depending on how stacked the field is I like to get out in the top 10 to 20 runners, as a senior now I hope to be in the top 10 in every race I'm in. I try to stay consistent for most of the race but I'll save a little for the last straight or half mile.  

Q. What's your favorite course?
A. I would say Holmdel. I'm there 3 times a week so I know the course very well and I know how to pace myself there. Ocean County Park is a close 2nd because of how fast it can get but I think Holmdel is my number 1.

Q. How do you feel last year went and how can you improve on it?
A. Last year was pretty good, I peaked too early but I still was happy to run at Groups and Meet of Champions because it's so prestigious and I had a lot of fun doing that. Indoor track went perfectly. I raced just the right amount and I made it to the [Indoor] Meet of Champs and ran a personal best there. So if there's one takeaway from last year is that It's have to peak right.

Q.  How is the college search going?
A. As of right now I have an official visit planned with Bucknell. Also in the picture are UCONN, Providence, and Iona