In the heat of a race, Matt Cronrath has millions of thoughts swirling in his head. His adrenaline pumping to the beat of a Lil Wayne song, Cronrath breaks away from the pack and finishes strong.
“I just go for it,” he said. “I know I’m probably not going to die, and if I pass out, someone will pick me up.”
Cronrath formed this mindset at an early stage in life. As a child, he had seizures that prevented him from playing contact sports. He has since grown out of the seizures, but the experience of the condition guided him toward a career running cross-country.
“Cross-country was really the only sport I could do,” Cronrath said.
In the fifth grade, he ran for an American Athletic Union (AAU) long distance team and made it to Nationals. With the success he had at such a young age, he knew distance-running was the sport for him.
He continued with distance-running and placed at State all four years for Odessa High School.
Not many schools initially recognized Cronrath as a valuable recruit because he did not attend a large high school.
“WSU was my number one choice, but I didn’t know if I had a shot or not,” Cronrath said.
He decided to contact the coaching staff of WSU and see if there was any shot of making the team. His wish was eventually granted, and Cronrath walked on at WSU as a distance runner.
While at WSU, Cronrath sat out his freshman year and was red-shirted his sophomore year. Last season as a junior, he finished in ninth place in the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet in Spokane.
Off the track, he is pursuing a degree in accounting and plans to work at a public accounting firm.
Paint-balling, riding motorbikes and mountain climbing also interest him, Cronrath said.
As the season approaches, Cronrath is eager to race again and help WSU cross-country win a Pac-12 Championship.
“We’re going to be doing big things this year,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be a top-15 team this season.”
With eight returning runners from last year’s squad and no freshmen this season, Cronrath has formed a tight bond with his teammates and coach, creating a positive mindset for himself and the team.
Cronrath hopes that this season, the strength of the team morale, the power of a mindset and the drive of a rap beat will push he and his team to a strong finish.