Interview 6 with Matt McLeod – April 21, 2004


“9:15 in the steeple isn’t good at Texas A&M anymore”

by Bryan Oubre and Matt McLeod with help from Alex Moore



Welcome to the April 2004 edition of the Grease’s Interviews.  It has been a great year for the Aggie Distance crew, so why not focus on a newcomer to the NCAA 3000 meter steeplechase contender ranks.


His name is Matt McLeod, and he reigns from Taylor High in Houston.  This past weekend he broke 9 minutes in the steeple, and his season isn’t over yet.  He has come quite a ways since being the wee freshman who got his pants pulled down at parties for reasons which are still unsure.  He could have starred in Braveheart and been famous, at least we all thought so because of his name, but instead he decided to join the ranks of the Texas A&M Distance program.  With his hard work and commitment to running, he has helped the program garner national respect.  The ECCP has put together a mix of questions to help us get to know this young man better.


Pleas enjoy.

(This interview is best experienced by drinking a pint of Guinness while reading.)


What was your first sport and how did you start running? 

Like most, I would assume I began my athletic career with soccer and became a runner.  I began my running career at the Kangaroo Club 5k in Chicago, Illinois at the age of nine.



What was your first race? Do you remember how you did or any other thoughts?

My first race was the Kangaroo 5K in which I ran 21:30 and beat my mother, who was my training partner at the time, by over a minute.  We started the race and all I remember is “wow this is so slow I wish that I could go faster cause this old lady is slow”.  I asked if I could go ahead but my mom said no that I would get lost but I assured her that I would make it to the finish, so she let me go ahead. I beat her severely that day and all the rest that were to follow.



Did you run as fast as you wanted in high school?  What was your focus back then, to impress the ladies, your coach, your parents, or yourself?

I ran as fast as I wanted to in the mile at 4:23, but I was always disappointed with my two mile and 5K times of 9:33 and 16:03 respectively.  I felt like I could have run under 9:30 and around 15:50 but I could never seem to put a great race together, just a whole bunch of ho-hum races that got me medals in the greater Houston area.  I was out first and foremost to impress my coach and my parents.  I seldom, if ever, ran for myself.  I always felt like I had something to prove to everyone else and never to myself, and I think that that might have been my reason for not running as fast as I wanted.



What convinced you to come to Texas A&M?

Jayme D’Agnolo, he talked to me on my recruiting trip and told me how awesome the team was and how great it was about to become.  He said that he passed up other scholarship offers in order to run at a big school were he would get better, and that all just seemed to make sense.  I credit him with pushing me over the edge into the sea of maroon.



What’s your favorite place to eat on campus?  Off campus?  When your broke?

Cain hall without a doubt, Double Dave’s I mean who can beat a dozen pizza rolls for four dollars after Sunday run. Taquerias Arandas has $2.89 burritos that I could eat all day (they are roughly the size of a Freebirds Monster).



Was living in Cain better or worse than living in the house that Bone’s used to live in?

I object to the phrasing of this question in principle, but anyways The Sack is better because we can have kegs and a dog, as well as no loud football players bangin hoes next door.



What possessed you to become a ninja master when you were already a dedicated runner and student?

At the time I was not running well or studying well and thus my time was open to new ideas and the life of the ninja seemed to be my escape from reality and my pitiful life.



Any more hints on what Ninja the movie II has in store?

Sarah Steadman’s scene will send people rolling and questioning everything they had previously believed to be true in life.



Do you plan on graduating and going to work or going to grad school or becoming a full time ninja or something else?

I plan on attending Law School once my life at A&M is over. I would like to continue training, but I have seen that dream go by the wayside for so many graduates so that will have to wait. No ninjas though, I don’t think ninjaing will pay the bills.



When you wake up in the morning, do you get right out of bed or do you roll over?  Are you excited to go run or still in a daze?

I get right out of bed get dressed and then roll back into bed while I wait for my roommates to get ready to go. I am in a daze until I get to the track and then something happens that sort of lights a fire under my ass, maybe it’s the fact that if I don’t get ready to go, Cook will yell at me for being late and then leave me to run by myself.



Who are three athletes who inspire you to work harder and run faster?

Andrew Cook, but that seems pretty obvious, Tom Sauvageau, he did when he was still on the team because I knew that he would be at  practice everyday even though he stayed up until the wee hours of the night.



What has been your two most memorable races in college, the good and the bad?

Number one has to be the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2003 that was the single biggest race of my life in the history of my career. I remember almost every detail of the day before, after, and during the race.  Number two has to be Penn Relays in 2003 when I separated my shoulder, I too remember everything about that day and the Vicadin was great also.



What courses do like to train on, and the ones you despise?

I like long courses with big long hills, and I hate courses with stupid little rolling hills that are five feet high like the A&M Invitational.


Do you follow the high mileage, low mileage or somewhere in the middle philosophy?  What kind of running did you do to prepare for the outdoor season?

I like to think that I am a high mileage guy, but it is more like a middle of the road philosophy.  I hit about 75 to 80 during the cross season and the same for this past outdoor season.


When you go on trips: who’s your roommate, do you bring books, is it okay to get a little rowdy, do you like planes or buses?

It has usually been Alex, but Doug the Head has also been my roommate a couple of times. No books because they just weigh down my bag, and I don’t do anything with them. No rowdiness because a few incidents in the past have spoiled our ability to get a little rowdy, and planes are the best.



You’ve had some remarkable races already this track season, what are your goals for the rest of the season and next cross country?

I am going to try and run under 8:55 at Mt. Sac and then place in the top three at conference and then qualify for nationals at the regional meet here in College Station, TX a place with the best weather for distance running in late May.



Was running better before or after the locker rooms?

After because now we can watch TV after we run and stretch instead of sitting under the concession stand after we run.



Did you ever want to try out for the football team as a 12th man?

No, I would get my ass kicked seriously.


What kind of Aggie do you consider yourself? 

Quasi-RedAss, I am more of an Aggie than Alex Moorehead but less than Schaffdogg.



What’s the deal with Hartman, how’s he gotten yall to be so good?

He has shown us that his plan works. If you follow him and what he says, you will run fast. The good thing is that now we are getting some top name recruits to step in and run fast early instead of taking a few years like us 9:30 two milers.




What’s your philosophy on going to class, studying, running, partying, and sleeping?  Do you pay attention to your diet, or do you eat what’s good?

Go to class all the time, run really hard and worry about everything else after practice, party occasionally, and not too hard because if you run 15 on Sunday at 6:45 pace you will be better than running 12 at 7:30 pace hung-over. Sleep at least nine hours per night. I eat what is good and watch my iron and vitamin intake.



Does having a lady friend make you run faster?

Yes, you don’t have to expend extra energy chasing the tail around and staying up late trying to impress her with dinners and movies. Plus being a runner she understands my schedule and is there to support me. We go out still but go home (to our separate homes) early for practice the next morning.



After Sunday morning practice, what do you do for the rest of the day?

Eat, sleep, watch football or basketball, go to St, Mary’s Catholic Church and then study, if there is time, at the end of the day.



Did you still feel scared that you might have another face plant in the steeple pit?

Yes, but that is something that you have to accept as a steeplechaser. Penn was not my first fall and I am sure that it will not be my last either. But hopefully my next fall won’t leave me incapacitated.



What kind of workouts are you doing now to train for the steeple?

Lots of hurdle work. Repeats of 1000’s, 800’s, 600’s and 400’s and occasionally a mile over the hurdles. Running fast on Mondays and Wednesdays, because like Jayme said, “people feel sorry for themselves on these days and run like pussies and don’t get any better,” this has stuck with me for a while.


Do you run good when your parents come to the race?

I would say that it is about 50/50 because my parents come to nearly all my races. They have only missed four races in my entire college career. So they have seen the good and the bad.



What do you think of the other guys on the team?

I think that they are all fags, and I hate them all, this is all about me, forget them. No, I am just kidding the guys are awesome and the entire team is supportive of everyone, so it makes it easy to run fast when everyone is rooting you on.



What’s your favorite beer and tv shows?

My favorite beer is without a question Guinness (I learned to drink in the TrackShack so that explains it), but when I don’t have the money for it I love Keystone Light.  Law and Order  and the Simpsons rank among my favorites of all time.



Have you improved on your poker skills any this year?  Do you try to learn by watching tv or just playing against people who play lowsy?

I think that I have gotten a little better since the beginning of summer, and I do like watching and learning from the tv.



Where do you want to live when you graduate?  Will you keep running?  Any marathons in your future?

Wherever I happen to be in Law School, I hope to, and marathons maybe if I decided to stop running the steeple or the 5k on the track



When you get on the internet, what’s the first site you visit?



What are you plans this summer? 

Stay at the Sack, run a lot, and work for the city of Bryan.



Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Not at this juncture.


Matt’s P.R.’s include:

1500                3:59.67            3/20/04

3k Steeple        8:59.16            4/16/04

3000                8:44                 1/30/04

5000                14:50               2/13/04

8k CC              25:14               10/18/03

10k CC            31:43               11/24/03


Editor’s Note:  McLeod is in his 3rd year at Texas A&M and has 2 CC’s, 2 indoors, and 1 outdoor remaining in his eligibility.