Track & Field Head Coach excited for what lays ahead for his team


COD Track Head Coach Matt Wilhite (left) talking to his team during last year’s meet at Triton College.

James Kay, Sports Editor

The Courier’s Sports Editor, James Kay, sat down with College of DuPage’s Head Coach, Matt Wilhite, of the Track and Field team. Despite calling this season a “rebuilding year,” Wilhite’s enthusiasm for his team didn’t waver throughout the interview. Wilhite finds positive aspects of what has been a disappointment turnout of the number of athletes on his team. If you are interested in joining the track team, Wilhite is open to adding new athletes. Here is what he had to say about his team’s current situation heading into this season.

James Kay: What are your expectations going into the season?

Matt Wilhite: We are kind of in a rebuild year. Coming off of last year having a high placing women’s program and our men doing very well. We are just hoping to build. Our numbers are a little bit lower than they have been the past few years, but we have some very talented athletes. Several of them are nationally ranked indoors.

JK: You said your numbers are lower. Is that because some of your student-athletes have graduated from last year’s team?

MW: We did lose a lot of athletes to being done with eligibility and transferring. The girl’s team is always going to be smaller at COD, and we are trying to bring more awareness to us having women’s sports. Whether you want to run, play softball, play basketball, play soccer or whatever it may be, bringing out more numbers is always important to all of us as coaches, no matter what sport you are at. We hope to continue growing. This year we lost a lot of athletes to graduation and are in a rebuild hoping next year we get those numbers back up through recruiting, and honestly just informing the student body that we have programs.

JK: Which athletes are your most notable losses?

MW: We had a young lady, Raven Kelly, that broke several school records for throws last year and was nationally ranked. We had a young lady who was the national champion in the 200. We had a pretty talented hurdler that transferred on as well. Our pole-vaulter, Lana Mattice, who finished fifth outdoors last year, is actually back, and I think she is ranked in the top-10 indoors. She hasn’t really hit her stride yet for the year. We feel she could do very well indoors and outdoors again. She is one of the top returners of last year. We expect her to grow even more than she did last year and foresee some pretty great things out of her.

JK: Are there any newcomers that are either freshmen or transfers that excite you for the season?

MT: On our men’s side, Nate Wesolek, he is a freshman athlete transferring from Grand Valley State, originally from West Chicago High School. He has had huge growth and he is already over a foot and a half higher in the pole-vault that he was before and is currently tied for first in all of the [National Junior Community College Association] for pole-vault in the nation with a fifteen foot, nine inch mark. He almost went slightly higher but was just getting a little tired so we are expecting to see a lot of good things from him. I foresee him placing very high both indoors and outdoors at the national meet. A freshman from Wheaton North, Steven Connor, has qualified for the indoor 60 hurdles. He is ranked 15th in the country but we are more excited to see what he can do outdoors in the 110 meter hurdles and the 400 meter hurdles. I think he can be an All-American in those. One of our returners from last year, who made the national meet and finished 14th in the nation in the decathlon, which is 10 events over 2 days. It’s probably one of the most difficult events you can participate in. He just competed this past weekend in the [heptathlon] for indoors and is ranked 8th in the country. I’m expecting in 2 weeks when he competes in it again that he will jump into the top-three. We are expected to see him place fairly highly outdoors and indoors at the national meets also. As for a couple other new athletes, another [heptathlon] and decathlon guy, who just competed for the first time ever in it, is ranked 14th or 15th in the country.

JK: It sounds like you have untapped talent but you said you are going through a rebuilding year. What exactly does that entail?

MT: When I say a “rebuilding year” I’m saying our numbers are smaller. I think on the guys’ side we have just under 20. We are normally in that 30 range. Our depth is deeper there than what we have now. So by “rebuild,” we have a smaller team, younger guys and we have a group of kids we are trying to see what we can get out of and develop so that we can kind of work towards hopefully doing well outdoors. We are trying to work with our freshmen to have a nice start to their collegiate careers so that we hopefully have a strong, deep recruiting class coming in next year. This is all along the lines of our sophomores reach their fullest potential so that they can move on to other colleges and compete after us and hopefully get to that national competition.