The name Maton still rings loudly in Oregon.
Ashley Maton was a two-time Oregon 1,500 meters state champion. Matthew Maton was a six-time Oregon track and cross country champion, and broke multiple prep state records held by future Olympian Galen Rupp.
The name Maton might soon be well-known in Washington.
If Daniel Maton’s middle-school friends asked the same question to the-now Camas High School sophomore as they did three years ago — “Will you be as good as your brother?” — at a time when Matthew ran sub-4-minute miles and Daniel failed to win a seventh-grade race, Daniel’s response might be the same.
“We’ll see,” he said. “People get hyped up how good you are when you’re younger, but it’s all about the end result.”
Daniel Maton’s career is far from being over. At 16, he’s already a two-time state champion after winning the 800 and 1,600 meters at last month’s Class 4A state meet in Tacoma.
Time will tell if those friends at Bend’s Cascade Middle School sensed what might be coming, but for now, Maton, The Columbian’s All-Region boys track and field athlete of the year, is carving his own path to distance-running stardom.
It helped, too, Maton grew up in a household knowing what it took to win state titles: From early-morning runs and after-school workouts to advice on training sessions and staying healthy by older siblings Ashley and Matthew, whose combined eight state titles were won at Bend’s Summit High School. Both signed with the Oregon Ducks.
Distance running runs in the Matons genes. His mother Michelle won the 1988 NCAA women’s cross country title at Indiana barefoot, and maternal grandfather, Deon Dekkers, was a South African cross country champion and ran a 4:01 mile in the 1960s.
So at the start of spring, the 1,600 looked to be Daniel Maton’s race, too.
His breakout came at April’s Nike/Jesuit Twilight in Portland, running a personal-best 4:10.64 in the mile. Funny enough, he said he might’ve ran farther had he not been battling illness all week.
“Sometimes when you’re sick,” Maton said, “you fully focus on what you have to do.”
He went undefeated all season in the 1,600, and placed first in all but one 800 race this spring.
Just last week at the prestigious Portland Track Festival, Maton ran a nearly 2-second personal best to win his 800 heat (1:51.48) in a stacked field of elite college and professional runners.
But Maton said watching Matthew reach the men’s 1,500 semifinals at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene last summer not only has drawn aspiration for future goals, but just as equally taught him about tactic and maneuvers in racing.
That was evident in his two state titles last month.
Three years after going winless in races, Maton is now a champion.
“Being able to lose when you’re younger helps when you’re older,” he said.