Saturday the Georgia College cross-country team will pound out a 10K at the region competition in North Carolina.
One senior holds a couple of records for the Bobcats. Tyler Mattix transferred in from North Georgia College two years ago when they shut down their running program. With Mattix, the Cats get a disciplined young man and a guy that may one day help protect your freedom.
On a chilly morning before the sun comes up, senior Tyler Mattix and his adopted dog Ziggy line up with the other Bobcats for a morning workout. Head coach Joe Samprone says in his eleven years calling the shots, he's never run across a young man like Mattix. "Tyler doesn't do anything that he doesn't try to do as well as he possibly can," Samprone bragged.
His best is pretty good. Mattix owns the fourth best time on the bobcat record books for an 8K race. "There have been days when we'll give him an assignment to run at practice and he'll do an extra loop, Samprone said. That may not sound like much, but usually on interval days those are pretty tough workouts."
Mattix craves tough in every aspect of his life. He's a chemistry major, but every day the science guy has a copy of the New York Times on his desk. "He's well aware of what's going on in the world," Samprone commented.
Aware because his future may revolve around the headlines.
Tyler is a Lance Corporal with the U.S. Marine Corps.
"I really couldn't just settle going to college and all that. It's nice and fun, but it's just one thing," Mattix said. The Marine Corps is one of those things that is a challenge. The reason I picked the Marine Corps is it's supposed to have the toughest training. Well, it does have the toughest training, so it's a challenge there."
The training has already sent him overseas. Last summer, he went to Morocco for Operation African Lion, which was a weapons training mission. After graduation, he wants to leave again. "I've also signed up to go to Afghanistan in June for deployment, but that's depending on the number of slots available who they want - if you make the cut you go," Mattix said.
Tyler is used to making the cut. He thinks all the time he spends on the trail has helped mold him into a better Marine.
And becoming a Marine has helped him win ribbons for the Bobcats.
"They kind of workout and help each other out there. With the Marine Corps, being physically fit is a huge thing and going to boot camp and having that background put me ahead as far as endurance-wise," Mattix explained. "If you get in on some long runs, you get in a race, your body's breaking down and you want to stop, but something inside of you says, 'It's going to be alright. Keep digging."
With Tyler's military commitment, scheduling is also a tough component of his life. This weekend, the senior will run in North Carolina and then head back to Atlanta for the Marine ball. Last year, he had to miss the region because of that event.
There is also another noteworthy senior on the Georgia College team to tell you about. Daniel Horseman owns the top three top times in Georgia College history in the 8K and the top time at 32:51 in the 10K.
Horseman and Mattix are roommates and their coach says they push each other to become better athletes.