Matthew Travaglini, the dominant Trojan Graduating running star: back-to-back cross-country national champion
A SAIT running star is leaving an outstanding athletic legacy after another stellar season.
Matthew Travaglini is in his second and final year at SAIT, and has become one of Canada’s top runners. He just won his second consecutive national title at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship in King City, Ont. He did not lose a single cross-country race he competed in during the last two seasons.
He also helped lead last season’s track team to a first-place finish at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) provincial championships.
Last season, he was named ACAC Athlete of the Year for his achievements in cross-country and track.
However, Travaglini hasn’t always been a running juggernaut.
At first, he had his sights set on soccer, playing competitively until he was 16. However, he wasn’t able to make the final cut at his local high school in London, Ont.
Therefore, he chose to give up soccer and decided to focus more on cross-country, mainly because of his natural skill in the sport.
“I guess you sort of like something when you’re good at it, and I was succeeding with running, so I stuck with it,” he said.
His brother, who first got into cross-country, was a big influence in the beginning of Travaglini’s running career.
“We’re super competitive; I kind of chased him around for a long time, then he started chasing me,” said Travaglini in a profile that aired on CTV News in October.
Travaglini also gives credit to the veterans he looked up to when he was a rookie at SAIT.
“I would say that those guys [were] the biggest influences. The fourth and fifth years who were really good runners, but who were better leaders, shaped the runner who I am now,” he said.
To win back-to-back gold medals, it takes a considerable amount of mental energy to remain focused.
Travaglini said that he avoids over-exerting himself by having a calm mindset, telling himself that he’s done this before, and keeping aware of his own running ability.
“When it gets to that hard part in the race, I just tell myself ‘yeah, I’ve been here before, I know I can still run, and I know that I can still push.’”
Travaglini doesn’t like to believe he’s the only reason for the Trojans’ success at this year’s CCAA tournament.
“Point-wise, I was first, but I think we share responsibility and we put the onus on everyone to hold up their end of the bargain,” he said.
Travaglini acted as a player-coach, putting in the hard work and encouraging other Trojans to do the same.
In the national championship, he was first to finish with a 26:19 finish time, securing the gold medal. The Trojans team settled for silver, an improvement over last year’s CCAA bronze.
Travaglini thinks the team silver will hold more weight in the long run, and is the medal that makes him think of the team, the bond, and what they fought for.
“We work out together five days a week. We’re out there in the snow, rain, sun, whatever.
“It’s like this group of guys became brothers, and I think the fact that we were there, everyone ran their heart out to get us the silver medal.
“We all wanted the gold but we got the silver, which is second in the country – that’s pretty good.”
His time at SAIT is almost done. He is graduating this year from the geomatics engineering technology program, and leaving a memorable athletic career as a Trojan.
He said his fondest memories while being on the team were the bus rides, saying, “whether it was to or from races, they were always fun.”