Race to the Finish; A Memorable XC Season

John Eash-Scott

After qualifying as a team for the first time in years, the Tosa East Boys Cross Country team came in third at state. The racing Varsity team included Antonio Riofrio, Tony Comacho, Liam Nolan, and Patrick Margerie. But the leaders of the team were three of the top runners in the state. Three athletes whose names strike fear into the heart of any runner who dares oppose them: Arthur Wellenstein, Aidan Matthai, and Grant Matthai. 

Arthur has been running since middle school, and has never stopped. That hard work and dedication paid off, as he’s now the school record holder for the 5k, and possibly the greatest runner in the history of the school. The brother of another legendary Tosa East cross country runner, Henry Wellenstein, he’s always made it his goal to help the team do incredible things. In an interview with the Compass, he said that he “looked on the [cross country] website in class in eighth grade instead of doing work, and I’d just like, look at the records. I was like, my name is going to be up there one day. And that was just the goal I had.” His name certainly is “up there,” because he now owns all three 5k records—an unheard of feat of true strength.

Despite being as talented as he is, he says he doesn’t think about his name being on plaques and trophies much. He says that he shouldn’t be the only one with his name up in lights. “It’s not accomplished by me alone. It’s an accomplishment that was done by so many people. My brother, for getting me into this sport, my coaches, for coaching me, and the Matthais definitely played a role.”

The Matthai twins ran with Arthur at Longfellow in seventh and eighth grade, but ended up quitting and switching to volleyball, always together, for freshman and sophomore year. For those two years, Arthur tried and tried to get them back to running. Then, something started to happen. Again and again. “Arthur, he gets the freshman record. He gets the sophomore record for the 5k, and he goes to state,” said Aidan. “I was like, I was racing with this guy. I was doing just as well as him in middle school, so I could be at the level that he’s at.” The Matthais have now helped Tosa East dominate the competition, and Aidan briefly held the school 5k record.

This season was a dominant one for Tosa East, as the three have destroyed all other teams, coming in first as a team for every race but two, one of which was state. “This season has definitely lived up to my expectations, and even exceeded them.

All of this has been recorded in a documentary the Matthais are creating. Aidan said that the documentary is “mostly going to focus on our journey to state. There’s workouts in there, but it’s also going to focus on the team aspect and the culture, the culture and the camaraderie of it.” In Grant’s words, it’s “what makes Tosa East cross country unique.” The documentary is still a couple months away from its first showing, but it is certain to wow the audiences. The film will be titled The Last Run: A Cross Country Documentary, and after its initial selective release, it will be available on YouTube.

In the two years of high school racing they’ve shared, the three have formed a bond between themselves, showing the world that cross country truly is a team sport.

“Having [Aidan and Arthur] really was of the utmost importance,” said Grant. His brother agreed, saying “I think it was a symbiotic relationship…for all three of us.” The three of them have grown incredibly close. Although these bonds were strong enough to dominate the competition, they will be going two separate ways.

Aidan and Grant have made the decision to run in college. They have yet to commit to where they will be running, but after this season’s show of their obvious talent, they are sure to get an opportunity. And, as always, they will be doing it together. “Grant and I have always done the same sports,” said Aidan. “When we push each other, that’s when we have the greatest results.”

On the other hand, Arthur has made the decision to run on his own time, for pleasure. However, his idea of pleasure is different from others’.“I’ll do hard runs, you know, based on how I’m feeling…longer, continuous runs,” he casually mentioned.

Whatever the future holds for these three runners, one thing is for certain: the 2021 Tosa East Boys Cross Country team will go down in history.