Competition may be over for rising senior Sam Mattis, but that hasn’t stopped the awards from continuing to roll in for him.
With the dog days of summer approaching an end, the star discus thrower has been named male Outdoor Field Scholar Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the highest academic award distributed by the organization.
The award comes on the heels of a mind-boggling year for Mattis, both on and off the field.
Once again, Mattis impressed in the classroom — pursuing a Wharton degree and ending the year with a cumulative GPA of 3.43 (an above-average mark for the school and a cut well-above the 3.25 standard needed to qualify for the award). But this came as no surprise, as he has already been named Academic All-Ivy in 2014.
What did come as more of a surprise were his further successes off the field and outside of the classroom, as the thrower took advantage of his relative downtime in the fall and winter. Mattis earned the title of this year’s “Mr. Penn” as the top male participant in the University’s annual body-building competition.
But where Mattis truly made waves this year was in — unsurprisingly — his spring track campaign.
Coming into the 2014-15 season, Mattis was already a two-time Heptagonal Championships champion in the discus and an All-American in the same discipline. Dominance at the Ivy League level was no longer Mattis’ priority — dominance at the national level was.
He hinted at the possibility of this dominance in his indoor season, racking up some surprisingly successful results in disciplines other than the discus. However, a lukewarm start to the outdoor season briefly tempered expectations that he would make a run at a national title.
As always, though, Mattis found a way to peak late in his outdoor season, throwing for a meet record at Heps and tossing a school-record 62.48-meters in Eugene, Ore. to take home the 2015 national title in the discus.
Mattis’ most recent accomplishment — becoming the first Ivy-Leaguer to be named USTFCCCA Scholar Athlete of the Year — tops off one of the most remarkable years from a Penn athlete in recent memory.
However, Mattis was not the only Penn field athlete to be recognized by the USTFCCCA, as rising junior thrower Noah Kennedy-White and rising senior jumper Tom Pitt were both also named to the organization’s All-Academic team. Both of Mattis’ teammates also recorded strong spring track seasons featuring NCAA appearances.
The inclusion of three Penn field athletes on the team is indicative of the overall emergence of the team’s field program in recent years, and of the team’s throwing program in particular. Only a few short years ago Penn struggled to even field a throwing squad; now, with Mattis at the helm, Penn’s throwing squad is something of a national force.
Mattis and the rest of Penn track and field will get some time off until the beginning of indoor track in the winter, but cross country is right around the corner, with the Big 5 Invitational set to be held on Sept. 11.
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