Track and field is considered by many to be an individual sport.
Matthew Freese disagrees.
The senior on the Dublin Coffman High School boys team prefers running relays to competing in individual events.
That might come as no surprise, considering he joined seniors Daniel Chang and Bilal Williamson and 2012 graduate Taylor Williams to finish second in the 400-meter relay in the Division I state meet last season.
The four finished in 42.211 seconds to edge third-place Thomas Worthington (42.219). Lakewood St. Edward won in 41.79.
"I like running relays better because you're not under as much pressure. It makes you feel like you are a part of a team," Freese said. "If I win an open event, it's exciting and everything, but you can't be cocky and celebrate. When you win a relay, you can talk about it with your teammates, watch film and celebrate as a team."
In the Gary Smith Invitational at Thomas on May 4, the 400 relay of Chang, junior David Gbenro, Freese and Williamson won in 43.43 as the Shamrocks finished ninth (32.5 points) behind champion Solon (180) in a 16-team field.
"It can be tough to get everything going with four people," Freese said. "The handoffs have to flow, everyone has to run well. ... A lot of things have to go right."
Coach Chad Biegler said Freese has the desire to improve.
"Matt just loves track and he's willing to do what's necessary to get better," Biegler said. "He worked hard in the weight room and he ran indoor track for the first time this (winter) after the school board OK'd that. He ran some 60 (meters) and he ran the (800) relay a couple of times.
"The first thing (indoor track) does is cut down on the tedium of training. It's tough to ask a kid to train from November to April with nothing but workouts. Going to (indoor) competitions helps break that up. You also are getting closer to being in running shape for the (outdoor) season."
Freese, however, did not find his first foray into indoor track to his liking.
"For me, indoors really was motivation for the outdoor season," he said. "In indoors, they run 60 meters instead of 100 and that's even more about the start you get. I was getting beat by people who I normally beat during outdoor season. That really motivated me to be ready when we headed outdoors."
Freese also runs the 200, with his best time being 22.86 when he finished second in the Wildcat Invitational on April 27 at Westerville South. He looked to have topped that in the preliminaries of the Gary Smith meet, winning his heat, but he was disqualified for stepping out of his lane on the turn.
"I generally run a tight curve and I guess they thought I took too many steps on the line," Freese said. "I ran right there on the corner (in lane 8) and the judge was right there."
Freese said the 200 is more forgiving than the 100.
"The most important thing about the 200 is finishing strong," he said. "The 100 is all about the start. In the 200, you can run and overcome a bad start.
"But the 200 can be tough because no matter how much you run, you're not fully conditioned until the end of the year."
Biegler said he has seen a difference in Freese this season.
"Matt is just faster ... than he was a year ago," he said. "You can see he's stronger, especially in his upper body. In sprints, strength in your upper body helps, especially in a race like the 200 because you are able to come around the turn without losing anything."
Freese soon will turn the corner on his prep career and prepare for college. He plans to study finance at Miami University.
"I have a spot on the track team (at Miami) as a walk-on, but I'm not sure if I'm going to do that," he said. "I have to see if I'll have enough time to run track and keep my grades up."