Bothell speedster Matt Moran has been putting up some numbers that would make most high-school varsity track stars envious.
He recently ran a personal-best 11.3 seconds in the 100 meters at the Northshore District Championships, and crushed the field in the 200 meters at the Pacific Northwest Junior Olympic Championships about one month ago, running a 23.34 to win by more than a full second.
Perhaps his most impressive feat of all was his 20 foot, 11-inch long jump at last year's Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Championships in Norfolk, Va., a mark that ended up being the second-best in the country for his age range.
Had he done that during last year's 4A Kingco league meet, he would have placed second behind Skyline's all-state senior star Kasen Williams.
But the 5-foot-9, 140-pounder isn't a senior, a junior or even a sophomore.
Moran is just 14 years old.
Moran got an early start in track and field, and got instantly hooked.
"I was in third grade and doing elementary school track," he recalled. "I just liked it a lot."
In sixth grade, he joined Seattle Speed, a premier training facility in West Seattle, under the direction of coach Mike Cunliffe. He has been improving ever since.
"As an athlete, Matt is very talented and understands the moment of competition," said Cunliffe, who was one of the top youth long jumpers in the nation during his time. "He has learned what it is to be a national-level athlete at a young age, not simply a state-level athlete."
Moran will get to showcase his talent on a national level at this year's AAU Junior Olympics meet, which will be held in New Orleans from Aug. 1-6. Matt Moran Long Jump
At last year's AAU event, he placed fifth in both the 100 and 200 meters while his 20-11 long jump (right) finished second only to the national record holder, Shaun Crawford of Akron, Ohio, who leaped 22-1.
"I'm pretty excited, going to Nationals will be some good competition," said Moran on returning to the sport's biggest stage. "I want to do better than I did last year, get a (podium) medal."
Because of the Northshore School District's current regulation, which prevents ninth-grade student-athletes from competing for their respective high schools as freshmen – with the exception of football – Moran will return to Canyon Park Junior High's track team next spring before looking to make a splash as a Bothell High Cougar.
TRAINING LIKE A CHAMPION
According to Cunliffe, what separates Moran from other young athletes is the amount of sacrifice he makes to be the best he can be, often deciding to train and work on his body instead of hanging out with friends.
"Recognizing opportunity is what makes him successful," Cunliffe said. "The broader picture of life understands how to sacrifice peer popularity and social pressure to work on and cultivate a gift in order to reach places few go."
Moran trains two hours a day, three times a week with Cunliffe at Seattle Speed, working on sprints, plyometrics and some speed endurance work — while taking on the older, more developed high-school athletes at the club.
"Coach Mike's a great coach, he really helps me and drives me," Moran said. "I also have a lot of good teammates down there that help as my competition, racing against them every day."
In New Orleans, the youngster will be participating in both the sprint events, as well as the long jump, and is ready to take on the field of more than 100 of the most talented 14-year-olds in the nation.
He said he hopes to keep putting on good showings at national events like Junior Olympics, with the long-term goal of earning a college scholarship for track and field.
With plenty of scouts sure to be in attendance in New Orleans and the track events being webcast live on www.aautv.org throughout the week, Moran's future looks bright as he has the opportunity to gain national attention.
But in the end, he is simply a kid that has a passion, and a dream.
"Train hard and keep at it, keep doing what you're doing," said Moran on advice he'd give other younger tracksters looking to be the best they can be. "I love the sport, and I love the competition."
Q & A with Moran's Seattle Speed coach, Mike Cunliffe
Q: What stands out about Matt as an athlete, and as a person?
A: "How to compete and concentrate and have fun in front of 30,000 spectators, and the very best athletes the nation has to offer; and finish at the top levels of that national competition. This year as a true eighth-grader — meaning he turns 15 next year and has not been held back thus winning on size and age — Matt has already run 11.58 (100 meters) and 23.32 (200 meters) and a 20-6 long jump; we are working and hoping to better these marks next week in New Orleans at the AAU Junior Olympic Games. As an athlete in his age group, Matt is not winning because he is simply bigger than his competition, which can happen at this developmental phase for athletes. He is 5-9 and 140 pounds. He is simply talented. I have never had an issue with Matt over the last three years as an athlete. He is able, is a great young man and I’m proud to have him as a friend to my own son and daughters. He chooses to have a good sense of the situations and opportunities: What is before him and what it will take to reach his goals. His parents have done a great job.
Q: What do you think he can achieve in the sport if he continues to dedicate himself at the high-school level and beyond?
A: He has the potential to be a sub-11 second 100 meters and better than 22-foot long jumper his freshman year in high school. He is also diligent and intelligent in his training. I believe (eventually) he can run sub 10.50 and long jump 25 feet-plus. Be ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. for high schoolers in the 100 meters and be in the top three in the U.S. in the long jump upon graduation.