Polytech pair push each other

By Andy Walter
Posted 10/27/21

WOODSIDE — Before they were friends, they were rivals.

Matt Gatune was a top distance runner at Smyrna Middle School while Kenny Guy, running for Lake Forest’s Chipman Middle School, …

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Polytech pair push each other

Posted

WOODSIDE — Before they were friends, they were rivals.

Matt Gatune was a top distance runner at Smyrna Middle School while Kenny Guy, running for Lake Forest’s Chipman Middle School, was often the guy he was trying to beat.

But when they both ended up as freshmen at Polytech High, the two realized they had a lot of similarities.

“We were definitely friends right away,” said Gatune. “We clicked right away. I don’t know, I guess we came from the same kind of background — running in first place for your middle school team.

“We were both on varsity as freshman, running really good times. We just had a lot in common.”

Now that Guy and Gatune are both seniors, they can’t imagine going through the last four years without each other. There’s a lot to be said for running with one of your fastest competitors every day.

The pair are expected to be two of the top runners when the Kent County Championships are held today at Killens Pond State Park. The boys’ race is slated for 3:30 p.m. with the girls’ race scheduled for 4 p.m.

The Sussex County Championships will also be held today at Sandhill Fields near Georgetown at 4 p.m.

Gatune and Guy hope today’s meet will be a springboard to both the Henlopen Conference meet (Killens Pond on Nov. 6) and the DIAA state meet (Brandywine Creek State Park on Nov. 13).

The dream is for the two Polytech runners to end their high school careers by finishing first and second in the Division I state championships.

At a meet with Cape Henlopen and Smyrna at Sandhill Fields earlier this month, Gatune broke Guy’s school record by finishing second in a time of 15:43.3. Cape’s Ryan Baker took first in a school-record time of 15:40.3.

“In the beginning, I always wanted to be the best freshman,” said Guy. “But now it’s just good to have that teammate there. Without him, it’s definitely harder to get faster on your own.

“It’s definitely cool the way it’s worked out.”

Polytech coach Czar Bloom said Guy and Gatune, along with Cape’s Baker, are part of a group of talented distance runners that are putting up unprecedented times in both cross country and track. Bloom knows he’s been fortunate to have the two at Polytech.

“They’re just fantastic guys and they’re part of a fantastic group that’s worked together for several years,” said Bloom. “They were fairly solid freshmen — they had natural ability — and got in with a group of guys that built a foundation here.

“They have never relented as far as committing to this thing. It’s become their craft. They’ve put a ton of energy into it. To be side by side as training partners has just taken it to an exponential degree.

“I’ve been coaching for 25 years,” he added. “They’re the two fastest guys I’ve coached in just about every event they run.”

Of course, the running partnership between Guy and Gatune will end at the close of the school year.

Both runners are planning on continuing their running careers in college. Gatune is being recruited by some Ivy League schools, most notably Columbia, while Temple is among the colleges interested in Guy.

“They’re both just all-around student-athletes,” said Bloom. “They’re involved with all kinds of things. They have great grades.”

A year ago, Guy placed second in the DIAA Division I boys’ state meet, finishing less than six seconds behind winner Ryan Banko of Salesianum.

Gatune took 14th in the race, in which nobody bettered 16 minutes..

“Finishing runner-up hurt a lot,” said Guy. “Being a state champion is my main goal this season. Finishing 1-2 (with Gatune) at states would leave the biggest legacy.”

“We really do push each other,” said Gatune. “And we also want the best for each other. It’s a mutual respect, it’s great.

“If we got first and second at states, that would just be perfect — no matter who got first or second. That’s a win for both of us.”