Carmel High School’s Kole Mathison Takes First in National Cross-Country Championship

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Deccember 2022/January 2023

Carmel High School senior Kole Mathison has checked a few major accomplishments off of his high school bucket list as a powerhouse runner, including crossing the finish line in first place at the Champs Sports Cross Country Championships boys 5K race in San Diego, California, on Dec. 10 — a meet that he finished 5th [place] in 2021. Mathison’s time of 14:56.6 was the fastest in the field by 11 seconds.

Mathison also competed at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon, in December, finishing fourth place in Boys 5K.

I spoke with Mathison and his coach Colin Altevogt about Mathison’s progress over the last 4 years, the program itself and what comes next for Mathison as he begins to wrap up his senior year at CHS.

Carmel High's Kole Mathison

The Path to Becoming an Outstanding Athlete

While praising Mathison for his achievements and for being one of the best runners in the CHS program, Coach Altevogt acknowledged Mathison’s team spirit and leadership skills.

“This [championship] is an individual award and race, but Kole also really cares about his teammates and encourages them,” Altevogt said. “It’s an individual sport, but the best athletes make their teammates better, and I think Kole does a really good job of that.”

When asked where Mathison has improved over the 4 years as a member of the CHS cross country program, Altevogt shared, “It’s a really, really long season in cross country, and I think Kole did a great job of budgeting his energy and his emotions over the course — starting in July and all the way to these two national meets that were both in December. I think there were times in the last track season where he was kind of frustrated with himself — he was winning races but maybe wasn’t running as fast as he would’ve liked to. But between April and May of his junior year, he was able to be more kind and a bit more patient with himself, and then he went on to win two events [1600m and 3200m with state records] at the state meet. He’s always been willing to train and to do the things that made him more consistent.”

A Passion for Running that Started Early

“I started playing sports at a very young age and tried it all,” Mathison said. “I started running in the 4th and 5th grades, and that kind of kickstarted my love for the sport. I won multiple races, and winning was a good feeling, so I was like, ‘I think I can keep doing this running thing.’ And then I ran throughout middle school and still had a lot of fun. Obviously, I didn’t win everything in middle school, and that was a learning experience. In the beginning, I ran because winning was fun and that was my motivation for running. Now, I’m just thankful that God has blessed me with the gift to run at the level that I do, and every time that I ‘toe the line’ to race, I want to give all the glory to Him. Winning isn’t everything, and win or lose, I’m still out there enjoying myself and having a good time, and I’m thankful that I learned that [lesson] at a young age.”

Mathison reflected upon his progression over the last 4 years.

“My progression throughout high school has been amazing,” Mathison expressed. “I was surprised at what I was able to do coming into CHS and being the number one runner on the team. That was not something I really expected. I was just hoping to be in the top 7. Throughout the 4 years, I’ve met so many great people and have had great mentors on the team as well as great coaches. Jut seeing how the team and myself have progressed over the [4] years has been really cool. I always wanted to win that team title, and we were finally able to do that my senior year. And I finally got an individual title as well, so to do both on the same day was something really special and made it so much sweeter.”

Mathison added, “It’s been such an incredible journey, and I’ve learned so many great things and have built some amazing relationships with people that I still hold close to me to this day.”

The CHS cross country program is an athletic fraternity in the sense that previous and current members of the CHS program become part of a “brotherhood” and form connections that can be life lasting.

Just days after the Champs Championship, Mathison was visited by CHS graduate and pro distance runner Ben Veatch at a practice. Though the two are seven graduating classes apart, they share a special bond, in addition to both having been coached by Altevogt while at CHS.

“Ben and I are good friends,” Mathison said. “We met about a year and a half ago, and we’ve gone on runs, conversed and had workouts together over the past year or so. It’s been fun getting to know him. He’s done some amazing things in high school at IU, and now he’s running pro for Dark Sky Distance — a pro club up in Flagstaff, Arizona, [sponsored] by Under Armour. So, it’s really cool to see him succeeding at the highest level and to have him as a friend, and to [have him] show up at practice — 2 days after the [Champs] race — was awesome.”

Mathison added, “It just shows that this [CHS] program and the team that we have goes a long way, and guys from years past still follow the team because it’s a big part of our lives and it’s kind of a family — a ‘brotherhood’ for sure.”

Going the Distance

Before graduating from CHS and heading out to the University of Colorado where he has signed a letter-of-intent to compete in cross country and track and field for CU, Mathison shared that he is training for the U20 USA Cross Country Championships that will be held on Jan. 21, 2023, in Richmond, Virginia.

Carmel High's Kole Mathison

“The [U20 USA] is a qualifying meet for the [U20] World Championships which will be in Australia on February 20, 2023,” Mathison shared. “I qualify if I finish in the top 6, so that’s what’s next on my schedule. I’m going to continue training for that, and hopefully, I’ll be able to put on that Team USA singlet and represent [the team] in Australia. After that, I will gear up the track season and just have fun with it and try to contribute to possibly winning a team track and field state title, as it’s my senior track season. After that, I may run some national races in June and then get out to Boulder, Colorado, as soon as I can to get summer training and miles in and join my new team.”

Lastly, Mathison shared that while he’ll be studying Integrative Physiology at CU, his “number one goal” is to sign a pro [running] contract and has aspirations of competing at the Olympics in the future.