Immediately after Matthew Giudice Jr.'s final race in the Putnam City Invitational on Friday, the Edmond Santa Fe senior will jump in his father's Mazda MPV and race back to Edmond for the Wolves soccer game against Putnam City West.
On the way, Giudice will change uniforms from track to soccer and gobble down his dinner, usually a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
It's nothing new for Giudice, who has been playing both sports at the same time since he was a freshman. Giudice, the Wolves' leading goal scorer the past two seasons, is often tardy for soccer games.
“Usually, he shows up about a quarter of the way into the first half,” said his father, Matthew Giudice Sr., who always is behind the wheel for the crosstown treks from track to soccer venues.
Edmond Santa Fe soccer coach Joe Peeler immediately inserts “Juice” (the name his teammates have given him) into the Wolves lineup when he arrives.
“He likes to go right in,” Peeler said. “He's ready to go.”
Giudice excels in both sports. In track, he anchors the Wolves' 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
“We really depend on him being a leg on the (relay) teams,” said Edmond Santa Fe track coach Carl Hawkins.
Individually, Giudice also runs the 400 and 800 meters, but won't run either race on Friday because of the Wolves' soccer game after the track meet.
“We try to save his legs as much as we can,” Hawkins said.
Guidice is able to compete in both sports because the track and soccer coaches at Edmond Santa Fe are willing to make it work.
“They have never said, ‘No, you can't go do that,'” said Mathew Giudice Sr., a teacher's assistant at Westfield Elementary in Edmond where he works with special needs students. “They have worked really hard together to make him successful.”
Peeler said he would never make a student choose one sport over another like a high-school coach once forced him to do.
“It still kind of upsets me,” said Peeler, who was forced to pick between soccer and baseball.
Giudice's daily practice schedule often depends on which coach needs him the most that day. Typically, he will begin with a track workout, then join the soccer team for the middle part of the practice, then go back and finish on the track.
A few other students at Edmond Santa Fe have ran track while also playing another spring sport, but those athletes were sprinters or competed in field events, Hawkins said.