Matt McClintock always enjoys coming home to Athens.

Yet this return from Purdue University, where he just completed his junior year with a seventh-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Championships, is even more special to the former Madison High School star because no one is trying to make him feel special.

The locals didn’t throw a big parade or hang banners around town saluting their All-American. That was just fine by McClintock, who is ready for some down time after being the toast of the Purdue campus thanks to his All-American performance at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

“I’m just Matt back home,” he said. “It’s nice to be back.”

He admits he isn’t quite as quick to embrace the rolling countryside back home again, especially coming off running 35 kilometers in about a month’s worth of competition.

“I’m back running in the Maine hills — up and down, up and down,” he said. “In Indiana, you’ll get one really big hill and then it’s flat for three miles,”

Given the mileage he’d put on them over the past year, McClintock expected his legs wouldn’t feel as fresh as they normally do when he returns to Maine. Thankfully, he has a couple of months to build himself back up before the start of cross country, where he is a two-time All-American. Then it’s on to indoor track and working towards qualifying for next July’s outdoor track Olympic trials.

McClintock said it took a week or two after the June 10 race to get back in training mode again. He’s working at a local store and focusing his running regimen on slowly building his mileage back up so that he’s about 90 percent fit for the start of cross country season starts in late August.

He checks in with Purdue track and cross country assistant coach Jeff Kent periodically, just to keep him up on his progress.

“I’ll send him (workout) logs and talk to him once a week on the phone,” he said. “A lot of it’s very simple training to get through the summer, so there’s a not a lot week to week that he will tell me to do differently.”

If Kent does have some advice, McClintock will listen intently. The first-year coach helped McClintock prepare for the arduous track post-season, which included a 5k title and 10k runner-up at the Big Ten championships and an eastern regional 10k championship.

“Jeff Kent did a great job getting me to peak for nationals,” said McClintock, who noted he was “burned out” before regionals the year before.

Going into nationals in Eugene, Ore. McClintock was nervous and a little awe-struck at the talent coming out of the western regional. Seeded 10th, he finished seventh overall in 29:16.57 to earn his first outdoor track All-American distinction.

In typical McClintock fashion, he downplayed the emotion of achieving his goal of finishing in the top eight. Having looked at the splits of the race, he thinks he was too cautious and wishes in hindsight that he’d made his move earlier in the race, because he believes he could have finished two or three spots higher. But he can find points of criticism for all of his races, no matter how well he runs.

“I think I set my expectations so high, it’s more what I expected so it’s not exciting,” he said. “Anything short of winning a national championship wasn’t going to get me excited. It’s more a feeling of accomplishment.”

The accomplishments and honors kept coming in after the season. A movement and sports sciences major with a 3.67 GPA, he was named Division I Men’s Track and Field/Cross Country third team All-American, one of 45 athletes in the nation to earn the honor. He was also named Purdue’s male recipient of the 2015 Big Ten Outstanding Sportmanship Award.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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