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CC sprinter Gauden well-versed in different subjects

Courtesy photo Matt Gauden qualified for states as a junior in the 400-meter relay event.

Senior salute: The Mirror is recognizing some high school senior spring sports athletes who missed out on their final scholastic seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet Matt Gauden — Central Cambria High School senior, golfer, track star, straight-A student.

And film buff.

“I really like watching movies,” Gauden said. “I like to watch black-and-white ones, anything from that era. I always kind of gravitated toward movies, and at one point I went down a rabbit hole, and I started pretty much watching anything.”

Gauden said his favorite movie is probably “Rear Window,” the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock classic starring Pennsylvanians Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly.

“Matt’s mature beyond his years,” Central Cambria boys track coach and social studies teacher Matt Miller said. “He’s the only student I’ve had who knows old movie references, like from ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Citizen Kane.’ He’s a neat kid whose worldly in that way. He knows a lot of stuff.”

While Gauden is well-versed at discussing movies, politics or current events, he’s also performed well in the athletic arena for Central Cambria the last four years.

He was a standout football player for three years, rushing for 127 yards as a freshman, rushing for 132 yards and catching 24 passes as a sophomore and rushing for 147 yards and catching 38 passes as a junior. In all, he ran for 406 yards and three touchdowns on 102 carries, and he caught 63 passes for 754 yards and three touchdowns.

But, then, he made what would seem like a difficult decision by not playing football his senior year.

“It was more of a personal decision,” said Gauden, whose teams went 4-26 during his three years. “I just wasn’t getting much return on my investment. I put so much time in on football. As soon as the season would end, I would be getting ready for the next season. I put so much work in and wasn’t seeing it come to fruition.”

Gauden instead opted to play golf this past fall, and he’s glad he made that decision.

“I’m really hard on myself, so I wasn’t really happy with how I did (in golf),” Gauden said. “But I didn’t regret it. I learned a lot, and the new coaches embraced and helped me. I was used to having success, and this was the first time, no matter how much I tried, I didn’t do as well.”

Gauden has always performed well on the track team as a sprinter. He was an alternate on a four-by-100-meter relay team that advanced to the state meet when he was a freshman, and he was a starter on last year’s relay team that finished second at districts and qualified for the state meet.

Gauden was projected to be a top sprinter for the team this season, along with being a senior leader. That was until the COVID-19 pandemic robbed all spring sports athletes in Pennsylvania of their 2020 seasons.

“I just always liked being with the team,” Gauden said. “Being with all the guys and coaches and having fun. Track was the most fun I had playing a sport, and it was the most successful one for me, too.”

Gauden, who points to his mother, Amy, as his biggest influence, carries a 4.0 grade-point average and will take virtual classes at Penn State University this summer before heading to University Park in the fall. He’s not sure of his major but wants to eventually have a job that lets him travel.

“Matt was always someone I could depend on as a leader and model of hard work and dedication,” Miller said. “The younger athletes looked up to him as a strong but respectful leader.”

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