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Guelph runner caps outstanding college career on high note

Matias Tessel earned a pair of awards at the Mohawk College athletic banquet, after captaining the cross country team to its first college championship in 29 years
Guelph's Matias Tessel, running for the Mohawk Mountaineers, heads for the finish line at the 2023 OCAA championships.

Guelph’s Matias Tessel has an engine many strive to have.

Whether it was playing tag in the schoolyard at St. Joseph Catholic School as a youngster, or being part of the track team at Our Lady of Lourdes, running has always been in the blood of the 22-year-old.

Little did he know that motor and work ethic would lead him to a decorated collegiate running career, capped off with an OCAA cross country championship.

He captained Mohawk College to it's first OCAA men's cross country gold medal in 29 years last fall, a "perfect way" to reach the end of that chapter of his life.

“I’ve always liked running,” he told GuelphToday. “It wasn’t my favourite sport until probably high school, but I’ve always been good at it, and I’ve always had a fun time with it.”

Tessel earn OCAA All-Ontario second-team all-star laurels three times during his time at Mohawk. He was a three-year captain of Mohawk’s men’s cross-country team, and he helped the team win a bronze medal at the OCAA championships in 2021. 

He was honoured for his efforts at Mohawk's athletic banquet earlier this week, receiving the coaches award for the team as well as being named a school Athlete of Distinction.

“It meant a lot to me, especially after I spent three years running at Mohawk,” he said. “I feel like I was a big part of helping the team grow.”

Before Mohawk, Tessel went to Wilfrid Laurier University for two years. While running with the Golden Hawks’ cross country team, he was named a U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian in 2020-21.

But to say there was an adjustment period from Laurier to Mohawk is a bit of an understatement.

“When I came to Mohawk, there was no sprinting,” Tessel said.

So he had to turn into a long-distance runner instead.

“You don’t see a lot of people transition from 400 metre (sprinting) to eight (kilometre distance running),” said Mohawk head coach David Hopton. “It’s a really big range. It’s a very different type of training.”

Not only did Tessel adjust, he became a leader and improved his ranking every year.

It was Tessel’s work ethic, Hopton said, that got him to where he is today.

“Showed up to practice, works hard, led by example,” he added. “(He) also would go out of his way to lift his teammates up, bring them up when they’re having a bad day.”

But while his OCAA career has come to an end, Tessel is helping others stay on the move, beginning a career as an aircraft mechanic at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre.

Tessel, however, isn’t hanging up the running shoes.

“I still head every Saturday to Hamilton to train with the guys,” he said.

The team just ran the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton last weekend. 

Tessel finished in fourth place in the five kilometre run, setting a personal best at 15 minutes, 34 seconds.

“We use that race as our fifth final race of the winter training block,” he said.

“Now we’re getting ready for the summer track season.”

So when he isn’t in the hangar, Tessel still plans to hit the track with the Royal City Inferno this summer, as well as participate in a 1,500 metre night hosted by McMaster University.

Tessel said a long-distance marathon isn’t an immediate goal, but he said he’ll definitely give it a shot one day.

“I don’t see myself stopping running any time soon,” he said. “(It) just might not be as competitive as it was at Mohawk, but (I’ll) still have fun with it.”