Matthew Payamps will continue his running odyssey in the nation’s capital. Payamps, a senior cross country and track standout at St. Anthony’s, committed to Georgetown University in November and is excited about the prospect of increasing his competitive stature.
“They’re one of the best middle distance and track programs in the country right now,” Payamps said.
Besides Payamps, the Hoyas recruiting class includes Saratoga’s Shea Weilbaker and Maine-Endwell’s Parker Stokes, two of the best runners in the state.
“It’s going to be a really good training group,” Payamps said. “I’m certainly excited for that. They’re really strong on the cross country side of the sport. Training with them and the other guys on the team is going to make me a stronger runner.”
Payamps' final four included Princeton, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgetown.
“I was hoping that after my official visits, I would kind of know where I wanted to go,” Payamps said. “It wasn’t like that at all. It ended up being a really tough decision. At Georgetown, I really fell in love with the campus, DC, and the Georgetown area.”
Payamps, who was more of a mid-distance runner last season, excelled at the longer distances this fall. His impressive cross country season earned him Newsday Runner of the Year honors. Payamps was the top Long Islander in the state speed ratings for most of the season, according to tullyrunners.com.
“As a runner, and a human, I think you want to learn not only what you’re best at, but what you struggle with as well,” Payamps said. “...Just to be a stronger athlete, I had to work harder at the longer distances and try to find some enjoyment in cross country.”
Payamps won the CHSAA Intersectional cross country championship in 12 minutes, 49.74 seconds (4k) and the CHSAA League title in 16:55.45 (5k). Payamps ran a 15:49.79 at the Ocean State Invitational in September, the second fastest individual time on Long Island this season.
His success has continued into the winter. In December, Payamps ran 1:25.53 in the 600 meters, 1:54.73 in the 800 and 9:33.62 in the 3,200.
But that paled in comparison to what he did Saturday. Payamps won the 3,000 meters in 8:31.31 at the Yale Classic. It was the fastest time in the state and second-fastest ever on Long Island, St. Anthony's coach Tim Dearie said.
“I’m feeling really fit and the team is looking really good,” Payamps said. “I’m getting back my leg speed with some speed workouts. It’s been really good.”
Payamps will join an impressive duo of Long Islanders at Georgetown. Huntington’s Lawrence Leake runs on the men’s team and Shorham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee runs on the women’s team. Leake won state and national championships as part of Huntington’s 4 x 400-meter relay team in 2016 and Lee won state public school Class B cross country championships in 2014, 2016, and 2017.
“A minute or two after I committed, Katherine texted me and said ‘I’m so excited to be your teammate,’ ” Payamps said. “It’s crazy how word spreads just like that. But I want to show that we have some really good runners coming out of Long Island and New York. It proves that our state and Long Island is so strong year in and year out. It shows how much work we put in and how much pride we have for where we live. It’s going to be super exciting and super fun.”