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High Schools | BOYS' TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE OF THE
YEAR

Bruno Finished With a Flourish

Trabuco Hills sprinter overcame injuries to conclude high school career by winning state championships in the 100 and 200 meters.

June 19, 2002|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Many track and field athletes will tell you there is a fine line between being eager for a competition and being anxious.

Sprinter Matt Bruno of Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills High isn't one of them.

He says the more uneasy he is before a race, the better. The more fearful he is of being beaten, the better he competes.

"The more nervous I am, the more the adrenaline gets flowing," Bruno said. "All of that adrenaline helps me explode out of the blocks."

Bruno, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior who has signed with UCLA, got off to four good starts in the state track and field championships May 31 and June 1 at Cerritos College. The last two contributed to his victories in the finals of the 100 and 200 meters and cemented his selection as The Times' boys' track and field athlete of the year.

"He was bouncing off the walls," Coach Steve Miller said of Bruno's demeanor on the final day of the state championships. "We had to calm him down a little bit before he ran."

Bruno, who will run in the USA Track & Field Junior (age 19 and under) championships at Palo Alto on Friday and Saturday, was one of the leaders coming out of the starting blocks in the 100 and he took the lead within the first 20 meters of the 200.

That spelled doom for the rest of the field.

Bruno won the 100 in 10.55 seconds, .17 seconds ahead of runner-up Rubin Williams of San Jose Valley Christian. Bruno's 20.82 was an all-time best in the 200 and left him a tenth of a second ahead of second-place Williams. The time moved him into a three-way tie for eighth on the all-time Southern Section list.

"Before the 100, my attitude was, 'I can't lose,' " Bruno said. " 'I don't know how I'm going to handle it if I lose, so I can't lose.' I had everything to lose. Nothing to gain. That was my attitude going into that race."

Bruno was more relieved than happy at winning the 100, but when the 200 was run 50 minutes later, he was thinking it would be "really cool" to be a double state champion.

"My attitude before the 200 was, 'It's my last [high school race],' " Bruno said. "So I was just going to put it all out on the track.... I figured if I got out to an early lead, [Williams] would have a hard time catching me."

Bruno wasn't boasting.

He was stating what many high school track fans in California already knew. He has better top-end speed than anybody else in the state.

"We really worked on his start this year," Miller said. "Because that was his weakness before. Once he gets out and starts running tall, he's very efficient."

That doesn't mean Bruno's season was perfect.

He lost training time because of a groin injury in March and tendinitis in his right foot in April.

He was defeated by junior Deun White of San Diego Rancho Bernardo in the 200 in the Trabuco Hills Invitational on March 30 and by sophomore Derrick Jones of Long Beach Poly in the 200 in the Division I final of the Southern Section championships on May 18.

Jones' victory prevented Bruno from winning the 100 and 200 in that meet and spurred him to winning and posting the best times of his career in the 100 (10.48) and in the 200 (20.93) in the Southern Section Masters Meet the following week.

"He wanted to make a statement," Miller said about the Masters Meet. "He wanted to show people that he messed up the week before by not getting enough sleep the night before the meet. That what happened before wasn't going to happen again."

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