Cross CountrySportsTrack & Field

Ashley Maton keeps pro track options open while pursuing master’s degree

Tuesday is the longest day of the week for Ashley Maton.

The 23-year-old graduate student from Bend, Oregon, runs morning workouts with the Oregon cross country team before heading straight to Adams Elementary, where she spends three hours in a classroom as a student-teacher.

She switches back to running clothes for a second workout in the afternoon, then heads to a classroom again from 5 to 9 p.m., this time as a student.

Even though Maton’s NCAA eligibility ran out after the 2016 cross country season, she still trains at collegiate intensity and competes when she can. She ran unattached at the Husky Classic on Feb. 11, where she clocked 4 minutes, 35.62 seconds in the mile — faster than every active Duck in the race.

Maton, who graduates in June, is using the year to pursue a master’s degree in education while considering a professional career in running.

“I just want to keep running as long as possible to see where that takes me,” Maton said.

Maton’s collegiate track career came to an abrupt end when she failed to progress past the NCAA West Preliminaries in her pet event, the 1,500 meters. A lightning scare at the meet in Lawrence, Kansas, caused the entire first day of preliminaries to be canceled. All the preliminaries were crammed into the second day, so athletes essentially had just one chance to qualify, and Maton was placed in a faster heat.

She was the fastest runner who didn’t qualify. Maton never got the chance to finish her career on her home turf at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field.

Maton said the inclement weather and unforeseen schedule changes made the race more difficult, and “the prelim became a final.”

Oregon assistant coach Maurica Powell said the abrupt end to her collegiate track career motivated Maton to return for one last cross country season.

“It ended up being a huge silver lining for us because she had, far and away, her best cross country race of her career at the NCAAs,” Powell said.

In Maton’s final cross country season, she placed 61st in the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the fourth scorer for the Ducks, who eventually emerged champions. Her vast improvement of 51 places from the previous edition earned her recognition from the coaching staff as the women’s most improved runner.

“When I came in as a freshman, I didn’t really have that many expectations,” Maton said. “I was just happy to be on the team. As the years progressed, I got better and better. I feel like this has just been the pinnacle: winning, and with all my teammates together, it was just too much fun.”

With a championship under her belt, Maton has now set her sights on finishing graduate school. An education degree wasn’t on her radar until halfway through her undergrad, when her mother, Michelle Maton, said she began playing the role of “little educator” for her three younger brothers.

“She saw for herself that she could do really well in teaching,” Michelle Maton said. “Since then, she’s been so excited.”

Maton is not actively searching for professional running clubs to join. Her fiancé, former Duck Parker Stinson, runs with Hudson Elite in Boulder, Colorado, but Maton said she is more interested in clubs that focus on middle-distance events. The two will marry in Vancouver, B.C., in August, and the women’s cross country team plans to attend.

Maton isn’t sure whether her new life will guide her toward the track or the classroom, but she’s keeping her options open.

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Romaine Soh

Romaine Soh

Romaine is a senior at the University of Oregon majoring in journalism. A budding track and field nerd, she is actively learning the technicalities of ball sports to compensate for her lack of hand-eye coordination.