Until Sofie Matson came along, no girl had finished in less than 18 minutes on the challenging 5K course at Twin Brook in Cumberland. Then the Falmouth junior did it in back-to-back races at the regional and state championships. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

As much success as she found in her first two seasons of high school cross country – and there was a lot – Sofie Matson said mostly she was feeling her way along.

Entering her junior year at Falmouth High, “I had a better idea of what I was capable of, and knew better how to push myself in races,” she said.

The result? Matson enjoyed a fall like no other in the history of Maine girls’ cross country. She won all six of her in-state races on five different 5-kilometer courses and broke 18 minutes every time.

Until Matson came along, no girl had run sub-18 on the challenging Twin Brook course, not even when Cumberland hosted the New England meet in 2008. She did it on back-to-back weekends, first winning the Class A South regional in 17 minutes, 51.74 seconds to knock 14 seconds off the course record set by Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk nine years earlier, and then running essentially the same time at the state meet after a week of rain.

The following weekend at Wickham Park in Manchester, Connecticut, Matson joined Leonardi and Emily Durgin of Standish as Maine’s only New England champions, in a time of 17:52.

For the third year in a row, Matson is our choice as Varsity Maine Runner of the Year for girls’ cross country.

“As talented as she is, she always builds on what she’s learned before,” Falmouth Coach Danny Paul said. “I’ve had her in (English) class, and she’s probably as good a student as she is a runner.”

Paul shares coaching duties with Jorma Kurry, who teaches math at the high school and also has had Matson in class.

“She’s got such a clear head about her goals and her racing strategies,” Kurry said. “She’s always had a decent amount of confidence, but now she’s so thorough. She’s gotten to the point where she’s not intimidated at any level.”

On Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York, Matson placed eighth at the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals, in 18:00.1, to qualify for a return trip to San Diego for the national finals on Dec. 14. As a sophomore, Matson was eighth in the Northeast and 14th at nationals.

Leading up to her junior year, Matson won the Maine women’s division of the Beach to Beacon 10K, in a time of 36:01 that translates to a 5:48 mile pace.

“It reassured me for the cross country season coming up,” she said. “If I can run two 18s in a 10K race, I can surely run sub-18 in a 5K race.”

She established a personal best of 17:29 at Gorham’s Southern Maine XC Classic in mid-September and won her third straight Festival of Champions title in Belfast in early October, setting a meet record of 17:35.

Throughout the fall, she continued her weekly routine of spending three hours each Wednesday night playing clarinet at rehearsals with the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble and Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

She also plays in the school jazz band, writes for the school newspaper, and last spring attended the Bread Loaf New England Young Writers’ Conference in Middlebury, Vermont.

“I’ve been around a lot of fantastic runners,” Paul said, “and Sofie is by far the best I’ve seen.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.