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Santacoloma helps DSU to MAC title

Parkland High School graduate Matt Santacoloma is completing his final year at DeSales University, and the fall semester has been off to a good start for the former Trojans runner. He competes in cross country and track and field with the Bulldogs and couldn’t be happier with the choice he made a little over four years ago.

“My time at DeSales has meant the world to me,” said Santacoloma. “Over the past five years I have made some amazing friends and have formed bonds that are lifelong. When I think back, I enjoyed all the small things that made DeSales its own. Whether it was the professors or special events on campus, the school created an environment that was suitable for me to learn and thrive. One of my main motivations of going here was the close proximity to my home.

“I ended up commuting my freshman and sophomore year, which allowed me to slowly settle into college life. Another motivation of mine would be the sense of community. From the moment I stepped onto campus I knew that this place was special. Since it is a smaller college, it allowed me to form meaningful relationships with more people than I regularly would at another university.”

Back on Oct. 28, the DeSales men’s cross country team won its second ever MAC championship, the first since 2007. Santacoloma crossed the finish line earning All-MAC First-Team honors with a third-place finish and a time of 26:57.3, the second-fastest time for the team. He also recently earned All-Region honors in his final race last weekend at the Division III Metro Region Championships.

“I always thought that cross country was a more unique achievement compared to track in the sense that you’re competing against a wider array of athletes at the same time,” Santacoloma said. “Being able to finish top-three in the field is something that I worked extremely hard for but would not have been possible without the support of all my teammates.

“To win the MAC Championship as a team with a total of 37 points was truly a great way to show how hard we all have worked as a team. When I was a freshman, we got eighth and it’s been a blessing to see this program transform and get stronger over the years. I am very proud to be a part of such a special team and will be forever grateful to run with such a great group of guys. The memories I have made throughout cross country and track will always be with me and something I won’t ever forget.”

Throughout his career, he has not just won titles on the course or individual medals on the track. Santacoloma has also shone in the classroom, earning Academic All-MAC Team honors and a place on the MAC Academic Honor Roll in multiple semesters.

“I’ve come to balance both academics and athletics mostly through time management,” said Santacoloma. “This involves planning my schedule for the entire semester by writing down my future assignments, meetings, and activities, in addition to the cross country/track meets.”

Santacoloma had some high praise for what Parkland High School did for him and for the success that he’s experienced while being a Bulldog student-athlete.

“Parkland helped me transition into college by providing a strong academic foundation for me to touch upon, preparing me with the skills and knowledge to allow me to achieve my goals in a college classroom,” Santacoloma said. “Running cross country and track for four years in high school helped me develop leadership skills, teamwork, and time management.

“Learning from my teammates and coaches by seeing what worked or didn’t work allowed me to learn and not make the same mistakes again. Overall, both of these experiences provided a good foundation for me to step on when getting involved in college activities.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF PATRICK JACOBY/DESALES UNIVERSITY Parkland graduate Matt Santacoloma and the DeSales University mens cross country team won a conference title this fall. Santacoloma, a senior, took third individually at the conference championships.