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East Lansing’s Matthew Zeleke passing by opponents, anxiety

The senior runner is one of the fastest in Mid-Michigan
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 4:33 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A senior on the East Lansing cross country team has set his sights on being the first to cross the line in every race.

But Matthew Zeleke’s journey to being the best runner in the area was not easy.

“When you step on the line you know that you’re about to go through a lot of pain and that’s not easy,” Zeleke tells News 10 Sports.

It’s a thought that runs through his mind every time he runs a race.

Zeleke struggles with anxiety.

“He’s so into it and wants to do well, It gets to him,” said his coach Pat Murray.

“When I’d get into more competitive races I would just get more intimidated of racing those kids,” Zeleke said. “Experience helps, and I still struggle with it today, but I’m getting there and I’m always going to be able to work on it, but I’m working my way up and trying to prove I’m one of the better runners in the state.”

And he’s made a case for that.

Zeleke is one of the fastest runners in the Mid-Michigan area.

“He’s done a good job performing,” said Murray. “He’s done a good job overcoming that.”

It’s a struggle, but Zeleke’s been able to work through those.

“I’m open, I can talk about when I’m scared for a race or I’m nervous, and realizing that I belong with those guys is something that’s helped,” he said. “I also have a team, knowing that I can talk to them and they can talk to me and that they have my back is really something that’s helped me.”

That support is something his coach says he gives right back.

“To have someone who’s out front but looking out for our slowest runners is a big deal,” Murray said. “It makes the team really really close. Everyone can coach the kids that are great all the time...It’s the kids that have those challenges and overcome them that really makes coaching rewarding.”

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