Prentice an athlete fortunate for his life

By Chris Bashaw

It began with an invitation in eighth grade to competitively run
in a mile-long race and has culminated with a collegiate
cross-country career.

Matthew Prentice, a fifth-year kinesiology student, said he felt
“kind of special” when he was offered that opportunity to race and
said he’ll miss the camaraderie he and his teammates have built
over his past two years at Cal Poly Pomona.

“Collegiate athletics allows you to be close to your teammates,”
Prentice said. “There are opportunities for me to join running
clubs after I leave Cal Poly Pomona, but I just don’t think that
camaraderie would be there in other settings the way it is

Before coming to Cal Poly Pomona, Prentice spent one year at Cal
State Long Beach and attended San Bernardino Valley College for two
years prior.

Although he ran cross-country throughout his high school career,
Prentice said he didn’t get outside inspiration until he met his
coach at San Bernardino Valley College.

“It wasn’t until junior college when I met my coach then ” Wes
Ashford ” and he started telling me stories of his past
accomplishments and everything he did,” Prentice said.

Perhaps those stories really did have an effect on Prentice.

At the 2010 CCAA Championships on Nov. 6 in South El Monte,
Prentice ran the 8-kilometer race in 25 minutes and 3.9 seconds,
making him the 14th fastest Cal Poly Pomona student to run the race
in the past 10 years.

At the NCAA Div. II West Regional Championships in Bellingham,
Wash. on Nov. 20, Prentice placed 36th out of 135 runners in the
men’s 10-km race and was the fifth fastest representative of Cal
Poly Pomona, clocking in at 33:30.1.

“I have respect for any athlete of any sport,” Prentice said. “I
can’t play basketball as well as any of the national champions on
our team, but sometimes, I feel running is certainly the most
physiologically-demanding sport.”

Prentice said physiological demands on a cross-country runner
include a continuous heart rate of around 180 beats per minute and
constant muscle strain.

“I don’t really know if [other] athletes really reach the levels
of exhaustion that competitive runners do at the end of their
race,” Prentice said. “I mean, sometimes it feels like a train just
hit me.”

Ultimately, Prentice just loves what he does, and there’s
something almost poetic behind it.

“With running, there’s a sense of freedom,” Prentice said. “The
act in general allows you to go wherever you please: You can run 10
miles that way or this way and end up somewhere else and

Prentice said there are two routes he’s considering after
graduation: The first entails earning a master’s degree in
kinesiology and making the transition into either fitness or
coaching. The second involves military service with the United
States Navy or the Coast Guard.

“Sometimes they have a more humanitarian role that they play,”
Prentice said. “The Navy is kind of like an ambassador when the
ships dock at various ports around the world. The Coast Guard is
domestic, and they work at home. When there’s a natural disaster,
they’re some of the first people to go in, so that’s why I want to
be in one of those branches.”

Prentice said he’s considering military service as a way to show
his thankfulness for his fortune and keeps himself educated on
current, worldwide events.

“I like to know what’s going on around in the world, and there’s
lots of people who don’t nearly have it as good as us for sure,”
Prentice said. “While I’m still young, I feel [military service] is
the best thing I can do. It’s the best way I feel I can give

Prentice an athlete fortunate for his life

Prentice an athlete fortunate for his life

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