The future looked bright for Matthew Trejo at the end of his freshman year.
It still does for the now-senior at Manteca High, despite lost seasons ended by an injury and a pandemic. Trejo did not get a chance to achieve all that he wanted at the high school level, but he has reasons to be enthusiastic as he transitions into an all-around dream scenario at Biola University in La Mirada.
“This past month, section and state just happened,” Trejo said, referring to the Sac-Joaquin Section and California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. The state meet at Clovis Olympic Swim Complex would have taken place this past Friday and Saturday, if not for the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It was hard for me to accept that my high school career is over and that I didn't get to experience the glory for all my hard work. I know I have to accept it and I look at it as a character builder. Even if you work hard you're not always going to get the outcome you want, but you just have to keep going with it knowing that some day it will happen and make it all worth it.”
Competing in the CIF meet was ultimate the goal for Trejo. It seemed likely that was going to happen for him following his freshman year. In 2017, he pushed for Ripon High star Ty Wells in league races. Wells is a four-time state qualifier who now competes for University of Arizona. He and Trejo are former teammates with the Manteca Dolphins Swim Team and Ripon Aquatics year-round club.
Trejo is thankful for having teammates and competitors such as Wells in his life.
“They've pushed me beyond my limits,” Trejo said. He's a team captain for Ripon Aquatics this year.
Trejo competed at the frosh-soph level for the SJS meet, winning the 100-yard butterfly in 52.10 seconds and 200 individual medley in 1 minute, 58.97 seconds — both new school records at the time.
The following year, Trejo made it back to the section championships but entered the varsity races. He made the second day in both events, placing 15th overall in the 200 IM final and seventh in the 100 fly. Competitors who place in the top three or hit state automatic times move on. Trejo clocked a 51.51 in the fly but was narrowly shy the 50.02 at-large mark.
“I had just barely missed state,” Trejo said. “I knew I had to get right back in the pool and start training for junior year.”
It was as if Trejo was punished for his own work ethic. It was while training during the final month of the high school season that he injured a shoulder labrum. His junior campaign ended with his arm in a sling.
“I was bummed,” Trejo said. “I knew senior year had to be my year. I trained a lot and worked as hard as I could, but with the coronavirus thing I unfortunately don't get my little comeback story.
“It's OK, I know that at Biola I can accomplish way more. There's a little disappointment but I'm also excited for the future.”
Trejo will join his older sister Alyssa at Biola. It was she who essentially recruited him to the school. A former standout in her own right at Manteca, Alyssa Trejo is in her sophomore year with the Eagles swim team and majors in nursing — Matthew is also looking into a career in nursing.
“I sent out emails and at first I was not looking at Biola, but my older sister goes there and she convinced me I'd be a good fit,” Trejo said. “While on a recruiting trip last October I felt right at home. The team is so welcoming, and Coach Ryan (Kauth) and Coach Jenel (Lopez) were both so helpful and they believe in me so much.
“I knew it was a place I can grow as a student, a swimmer and with my faith in Christ.”
He signed around Thanksgiving.
There will be another familiar face at Biola — Sierra's Meghan Tolman, the area's lone state qualifier last year.
“That just kind of happened,” Trejo said. “We've been friends for so long I can't remember if we met at church or with the Manteca Dolphins. We're also part of the same club team, Ripon Aquatics. We both wanted to go to a Christian college and Biola ended up being the one we both selected. It's pretty awesome because we're such good friends.”