Parkland Press

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PRESS FILE PHOTO Since ending a stellar college running career at Shippensburg, Parkland graduate Matt Gillette has been finding success in local races. PRESS FILE PHOTO Since ending a stellar college running career at Shippensburg, Parkland graduate Matt Gillette has been finding success in local races.

PHS grad Gillette enjoys local 5K circuit

Thursday, August 13, 2015 by JEFF MOELLER Special to the Press in Sports

Someday, Matt Gillette might entertain running a half-marathon or even a marathon. In the meantime, Gillette is enjoying himself on the 5K circuit.

The former Parkland High School and Shippensburg University standout recently won the Emmaus Dash and Splash 5K and has been among the top finishers in various races across the Lehigh Valley and beyond. A few weeks earlier, Gillette won the Firecracker 4-mile race in Easton.

Like he had been at Parkland and Shippensburg, Gillette has been a staple of consistency. He has been averaging a little over four minutes a mile in his races, whether they are outdoors or indoors.

"I'll probably look at some 10K races and maybe a half marathon in the fall," said Gillette. "But I want to focus more on the 5Ks.

"The competition is usually pretty tough out there. I like to do the road races in the summer and fall and the indoor track events in the spring. I like doing the indoor 3K races and some of the 200-meter events."

Gillette began running competitively in seventh grade in the Parkland school system and his progress rapidly increased.

"I always liked to run and I discovered it is really a mental thing," he said. "Once I learned how to run, it was just a matter of staying focused on what I had to do.

At Parkland, Gillette won the District 11 title in the 1,600 and 3,200 as a junior and senior. Gillette moved on to Shippensburg where he earned two all-American citations for his role as an anchor leg posting an impressive 1,600-meter split of 4:03. Shippensburg's winning time of 9:45.24 broke the championships meet record, facility record and PSAC record.

Also at the national championships, Gillette placed third in the 3K with a time of 8:10.

During his senior season in 2013 at the conference championships, Gillette was named the PSAC Indoor Championships Track MVP and Overall Meet MVP after winning league titles in the mile (4:13.40, season PR), 3K (8:18.52) and DMR (10:07.61). During the regular season, Gillette broke Steve Spence's PSAC record in the 3K, running 8:09.33.

During the same season, Gillette was named the 2013 PSAC Men's Indoor Track Athlete of the Year after earning a pair of All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships and breaking a conference record during the regular season in the 3,000 meters.

Since then, Gillette is content to take it to the streets. He has hinted at taking a shot at the Philadelphia Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in late October. He definitely could deal with the 13.1-mile race, as his personal best in total miles for a workout is 20.

"I'm thinking about the Philadelphia race, but I don't think I'll be running a marathon anytime soon," he said. "There are also the Olympic Trials and I'll see if I can hit that stretch. Right now, I'm just enjoying what I am doing."