Nelson’s Matti Erickson will attend University of Oregon next year. Photo: Kari Medig

Nelson’s Matti Erickson will attend University of Oregon next year. Photo: Kari Medig

Nelson’s Matti Erickson to race for University of Oregon

Erickson is the city’s current sports ambassador

One of Nelson’s most promising athletes will compete for a top NCAA university.

L.V. Rogers student and runner Matti Erickson has committed to the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., for the fall 2021 semester.

He said he had several options, but a conversation with the Ducks cross-country coach Ben Thomas made an impression.

“He saw some potential in me as an athlete, and my marks are good enough to get into basically any program I really wanted to go into,” said Erickson.

“So although there was some other options on the table, as well, I felt that Oregon was the best one for me.”

Erickson, who was named Nelson’s first sports ambassador in December 2019, has dominated the 1,500-metre distance in B.C. for four years.

In June 2019, he beat his own provincial record to win a third-straight gold in the distance at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships, where he also took a gold in the 800.

Erickson followed that in August 2019 with two gold medals in his debut at the Canadian Legion Youth Track and Field championships, and has also won gold at the B.C. Summer Games.

Erickson is also an accomplished cross-country runner. In 2017, he became the first Kootenay athlete to win gold at the provincial high school cross country championships.

He’s also previously won gold at the B.C. Summer Games, as well as won the annual Nike Portland cross-country race.

At the University of Oregon, Erickson will compete for one of the best track programs in America.

Oregon’s men’s outdoor track team was ranked 12th overall in Division 1 by NCAA in 2019, while its men’s cross country team ranked ninth.

Erickson will have also access to historic facilities in Oregon. The university’s Hayward Field has hosted the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials for 2008, 2012 and 2016, as well as 15 NCAA Outdoor Championships and six U.S. Championships.

The site will also host the U.S. team’s next Olympic Trials in June 2021.

In the classroom, Erickson said he’s interested in physiotherapy or perhaps the university’s business program. On the track, he’s got his eye on the Canadian national championships and the next under-20 world track and field championships.

The Olympics, of course, are also not out of the question.

“Running in the Olympics is always something that I’m sure every runner, that’s their big goal,” he said. “It’s something that not very many people get to do and it’s a huge honour to represent their country.”

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