Senior Matt Mulvaney has emerged from an injury-stricken cross-country season and is enjoying success in what appears to be a quite promising track season, even with the many hurdles the team faces.
He placed first in the 3000-meter race at the Hurricane Invitational on March 20, with a time of 8:38.04, and shattered the school record in the 10,000-meter event by more than 22 seconds at the Raleigh Relays on March 26.
In his own modest way, however, Mulvaney never revels in personal glory for too long.
“By the time I got to four miles, I knew I had it. Afterward I jumped around for a while, but my legs [were tired],” he said.
Like everyone else on the team, Mulvaney has had to deal with the many obstacles caused by the lack of funding for the men’s track program. For him, it has oddly enough been both a curse and a blessing, as he insists that his ability level may not have allowed him to compete at a fully funded university track program.
“A lot of coaches wouldn’t have let me run coming out of high school,” Mulvaney said. “I was what you call slightly above average. But Coach Ward didn’t have a problem with it so he let me on the team, and I’m thankful he gave me the chance to run ’cause it opened a lot of doors for me.”
Currently, the men only have two scholarships available, despite the NCAA maximum allotment being 12 and a half. The scholarship money that is available is usually spread out among runners to try to alleviate expenses, but it is not enough to lure the finest track stars in the country to Coral Gables.
“It’s just hard to compete and get the athletes,” Mulvaney said. “If you’re asking every student-athlete to come up with 30,000 dollars out of their pocket, it’s just not going to happen.
“Title Nine is great because it elevated the status of women’s sports, but at the same time it killed the non-revenue men’s sports…It’s kind of disheartening when you go to the Big East [Championship] and you have to compete against teams that are fully funded and have 40 guys at the meet-and you’re there with 10.”
Still, Hurricane runners are largely a strong bunch, which doesn’t go unnoticed.
“You can’t be disappointed because you might go there with 10 guys and score 50 points…you look at these other teams and they’re beating you, but they’re not outscoring you per person,” he said.
Running 75 to 80 miles per week for training, Mulvaney admits that running cross-country and/or track is not for the faint of heart. However, even with the struggles he has endured running at UM, he encourages those who have an interest in pursuing the sport at any level.
“Running is a sport that you definitely can improve in,” he said. “If you work hard at it and you’re consistent, you’re going to get better. To anyone who’s in high school: if you are willing to work hard, then you can accomplish a lot…I came in pretty average and I’m pretty happy where I am right now relative to where I was.”
Melissa Teich can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.