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All-American honors are latest career triumph of IUP’s Matsko

08/29/2014
Michael Kiwak
Lead Sports Writer

1:00.06.

That was the time Krista Matsko posted in the 400-meter hurdles to earn a seventh place finish and All-American honors on the final day of the 2014 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships back in May.

Matsko’s performance made her the first Indiana University of Pennsylvania women’s outdoor runner to earn the honor since the spring of 2010, when Maddy Outman earned the honor in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and heptathlon.

Matsko earned the right to compete at the championships after winning the 400-meter hurdles at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships with a time of 1:00.02.

Additionally, she placed second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.19 and she also ran the second leg of the 4×400 relay team that finished fourth at the conference championships, breaking a school record with a time of 3:52.88.

Her performance earned her the title of Most Outstanding Track Athlete at the competition.

The distinctions don’t end there, however, as she was also named 2014 PSAC Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year.

The Clarks Summit native is the first IUP woman athlete since Amber Plowden in 2002 to earn the distinction.

In addition to her All-American honor and PSAC awards, Matsko was also named All-Atlantic Region in the 400 hurdles by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Despite the array of awards Matsko earned her outstanding senior year, she admitted that she almost retired as a competitor at one point during her college career.

“I came into college off of an amazing ending to my high school career and had a much harder time adjusting to competing at the higher level,” Matsko said.

“The first two years of college, I actually almost hung up my shoes. I struggled with adjusting to the workouts and to the level of competition.

“Mentally, I wasn’t ready.”

Matsko debated retiring the most during her sophomore year, but she decided to complete the season for the sake of her team.

That decision paid off, as she ran her first provisional qualifying time for nationals.

“I didn’t get to go and compete, but it relit that hope and drive I had coming into college,” she said.

She returned her junior year with renewed motivation, but the hurdler again fell short of her dreams. Matsko posted another provisional time but found herself edged out by a mere two competitors.

“Being so close but not actually making it two years in row made me more determined than ever my senior year,” Matsko said.

“It was my last chance, and I wasn’t going to let it end in disappointment.”

The rest, as it’s said, is history.

While Matsko posted one of the best seasons in recent IUP history, solidifying her place among the top Crimson Hawks track and field athletes of late, she expressed nothing but gratitude when speaking about her distinctions.

“Winning the Most Outstanding Track Athlete award at conference and also the Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year were two of the most unexpected awards that I couldn’t have been more honored to receive,” she said.

“Both awards, and also becoming All-American, have truly left me speechless.”

“I owe everything to my coaches, parents and teammates because without them, none of my accomplishments would have been possible.”

While her competitive college track career might have come to a close, Matsko will still find herself on the track plenty this season, as she will assist the Crimson Hawks as a volunteer coach while she serves as a sports studies graduate assistant.

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