Blink and you’ll miss it: Matt Strangio and Laura Pellicoro shatter yet another record.

These two track and cross country athletes are the fastest UP has ever seen.

By Emma Swett | February 26, 2024 6:30pm
Matt Strangio and Laura Pellicoro run at the UW invitational track meet. They both broke records at the meet. Photo courtesy of UP Athletics.

The mile, the 1000-meter, the 3,000-meter, the 5,000-meter, the 600-meter — you name it, Matt Strangio and Laura Pellicoro own it. As members of UP’s cross country and track programs, both athletes understand the importance of pushing themselves to the limit to achieve excellence. 

On Jan. 27, Strangio raced a mile in 3:55.53, breaking his previous record at UP for the fastest men’s indoor track mile time. Most recently, Strangio shattered the UP record in the indoor track 3,000-meter race — one that had been in place since 2016. 

On Feb. 10, Pellicoro followed suit by breaking her previous record at UP for the fastest women’s indoor mile time at UP, clocking in at 4:31.39. Peillocoro has set school records in three other races this season alone – the 600-meter race, the 1,000-meter race and the 3,000-meter race.

Strangio and Pellicoro continue to make their mark on the history of the University of Portland’s track and cross country programs, but the season isn’t over yet. The two reflect on the accomplishments they’ve achieved so far this year and what goals they have their sights set on next. 

Strangio has been a member of UP’s cross country and track programs since the 2021 season, but this year, his performance in both sports has been unparalleled, showcasing times unlike any seen before. 

Matt Strangio runs at the UW invitational track meet. Photo courtesy of UP Athletics.

Strangio recognized how he was able to set this precedent for himself.

“There was something in my brain that needed to be flipped on to give me the edge I’ve had this year,” Strangio said. “It’s been a change in mindset and I think that’s what you need to do if you want to compete for titles, and we’re here to compete for titles.” 

With this newfound mindset, Strangio has proven himself to be a formidable contender in the pursuit of championship titles.

Last October, Strangio was celebrated as the 2023 West Coast Conference (WCC) men's cross country individual champion, ending a five-year drought and becoming the first Pilot to achieve such a feat at the WCC Championships since 2018.

Strangio also led his team to a second place finish at the 2023 WCC Championships, earning him the title of  WCC Runner of the Year for 2023, an honor presented to him not only for his remarkable individual performance, but also for his contributions to his team’s success.

Strangio has carried his momentum from the WCC Championships seamlessly into the indoor track season. 

His continued success and achievements were notably demonstrated on Jan. 27 when he broke the UP indoor track mile record, a feat which he did not anticipate or intend on accomplishing. 

“That race was supposed to be a rust buster,” Strangio said. “Then on the last lap I thought to myself, ‘Holy crap, I have a lot left [in me],’ then decided to just go for it and see what I could run.” 

Setting a new indoor track mile record at UP and distinguishing himself as one of only three men’s Pilots to race a mile in under four minutes was, surprisingly, not Stangio’s biggest feat of the season.

To Strangio, his biggest accomplishment of the season took place at the Husky Classic on Feb. 9. when he completed the 3,000-meter run in 7:39.02, crushing the previous record, set by Wood Kincaid in 2016, by nearly 10 seconds. 

Matt Strangio celebrates with his teammates after a successful race at the UW invitational track meet. Photo courtesy of UP Athletics.

Strangio recalls the moment on day two of the Husky Classic when the reality of what he had just accomplished began to sink in. 

“It was really when I got back to my dad that [I realized it] was one of the most special moments,” Strangio said. “He goes, ‘How does it feel that you just changed your life?’ That was when it set in that I had just done something huge.” 

This week, Strangio will let the excitement of his recent achievement ease as he continues his preparation for the Indoor Track & Field Championships. 

The 2024 Division 1 Indoor Track & Field Championships are scheduled for Mar. 8-9 at Boston College in Massachusetts, and Strangio already has his sights set on them. Holding the seventh seed in the nation in the 3000-meter indoor race, Strangio has secured his qualification for the event. But, simply qualifying isn’t enough for him — he’s determined to compete for the title. 

“You’re looking at the guys next to you on the line,” Strangio said. “Like, ‘You’ve run at world champs, you’re going to be an olympian this summer’ — and I want to beat all you guys.” 

Strangio isn’t the only one. Laura Pellicoro, a standout in women's cross country and track, has forged her own path of excellence at UP.

Since joining UP’s women’s cross country and track programs in 2021 from Milan, Italy, Pellicoro has consistently proven herself to be an invaluable asset.

Laura Pellicoro runs in a race at the UW invitational track meet. Photo courtesy of UP Athletics.

Last October, Pellicoro and the women’s cross country team captured the WCC conference title. Pellicoro finished second individually at the WCC Championships, ultimately earning herself a spot on the First-Team All Conference list. 

After a successful finish at the NCAA West Regional Championships, Pellicoro emerged as the sole representative for the UP women’s cross country team at the NCAA Championships, where she achieved a 41st place finish

Due to the swift transition from cross country competition to preparing for indoor track, Pellicoro hardly had time to process her achievements until she was on her way back to Europe.

“I had the realization when I flew back home to Italy,” Pellicoro said. “I was like, ‘OK, that was a good cross country season.’” 

Whether it’s on the cross country course or indoor track, success is not new to Pellicoro. She has held the women’s indoor track mile record at UP since the 2022 season, and has broken her own record every year since. And, at her most recent pace on Feb. 10, Pellicoro set the women’s indoor mile record at 4:31.39. 

Laura Pellicoro runs in a race at the UW invitational track meet. Photo courtesy of UP Athletics.

Repeatedly breaking her own record for the mile only serves to further fuel her drive to continue to improve. 

“In the mile, especially, it’s getting incredibly fast,” Pellicoro said. “Breaking my own record, it feels good knowing I’m getting better.” 

Pellicoro competed on Saturday, Feb. 24 with one last chance to join Strangio in Boston. Although she did not meet the necessary mile time to secure her spot at the NCAA Championships, Pellicoro is still celebrating a historic season, one that made a lasting impact on the history of UP's indoor track program. 

Emma Swett is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at