Matt Newell was training mostly on his own while high school athletics were shut down last summer when he came to the realization that he wanted to run for the Naval Academy.
Over the next year or so, Newell became acquainted with the Annapolis, Maryland, campus and the Navy coaching staff and decided that’s where he would continue his cross-country and track career.
“In my head, I kind of figured out it was the place I wanted to be last summer,” said Newell, a senior at Columbus North. “Then, the coach and I had a conversation, and he asked me if it was the place I wanted to be, and I made up my mind there on the phone with him, and I told him, ‘Yes.’”
Newell, who was The Republic Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year as a sophomore, missed most of his junior season with an injury before returning to help the Bull Dogs win the state championship. He finished 13th in Saturday’s state finals to earn All-State honors for the third time and help lead North to a third-place team finish.
In track, Newell was a state qualifier in the 1,600 meters as a freshman. His sophomore season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an illness prevented him from running in the regional during track season, likely derailing another trip to state.
Newell didn’t let another bout of sickness slow him down this cross-country season.
“I think it went pretty well,” Newell said. “Despite getting sick for about a week, I thought I overcame it and accomplished a lot of the goals that I wanted to and had a very successful season.”
Newell, who has a goal of winning a state title in track next spring, plans to major in either computer science or aeronautical engineering at Navy. He has heard a lot about the school from his friend and former North runner and swimmer Sam Russell, who is on the Midshipmen’s triathlon team.
“I think what I was impressed most about the Naval Academy was the culture,” Newell said. “Everyone that goes there, they want to be something in the world. Everyone wants to contribute to a bigger cause, and it’s something I can really get behind.”