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It's not common for an athlete to win multiple state championships in a school year, but it's not rare. It occurs every so often, mostly in individualized sports such as track and field, swimming, cross-country and Nordic ski racing.

Far more rare: an athlete winning more than one team championship in a school year. Two, perhaps, but it's not frequent. Three? Nope.

How about three team state championships in the same year with an individual title mixed in? Practically unheard of.

Meet Matias Maule. The Orono senior pulled off an extraordinary feat during the 2021-22 school year — he helped the Spartans boys' soccer team win the Class 2A state title in November, captained the school's state champion table tennis team over the winter and led Orono's boys' tennis team to its first team state championship, the Class 2A crown, in early June.

Not enough? Maule and teammate Sam Skanse paired to win the Class 2A doubles championship, giving Maule four state titles, three of them team championships, in a single school year.

It all made him the Star Tribune All-Metro Boys' Athlete of the Year.

"It's been an amazing year," Maule said.

Maule wasn't an all-state soccer player, nor was he on the short list of the top tennis players in the state, although he will play tennis at Washington University in St. Louis, one of the best Division III programs in the nation.

Seeing an opportunity for team prosperity in each activity, Maule was prudent. He set aside his personal goals in favor of team success and, as team captain in all three sports, went about trying to become the best leader he could be.

"It had always been a thought in the back of my mind that we could take three [championships], but we still had to do the little things, like beat Benilde-St. Margaret's in soccer or Wayzata in tennis," said Maule, reasoning that to get past those two favorites in their respective section finals, the Spartans needed to be all-in with team goals.

A significant part of Maule's strategy was accepting personal sacrifices for the greater good. A knee injury in soccer sidelined him late in the regular season. When he returned, he was moved from the midfield position he had occupied for most of the season into a role in which he was marking the opponent's best players. He took to the largely thankless task willingly.

Orono’s Matias Maule won three team state championships — in soccer, table tennis and tennis — in a single school year.
Orono’s Matias Maule won three team state championships — in soccer, table tennis and tennis — in a single school year.

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune, Star Tribune

In tennis, he played No. 1 singles, knowing he would be overmatched frequently by the best player on the opposition, but he willingly took his lumps to promote team success.

"I think my record was just a little above .500," he said, exhibiting no remorse.

Even in table tennis, which is not an MSHSL-sanctioned sport, he made sure team goals were the priority.

"We had probably the most intense practices in table tennis," he said. "We always were pushing each other."

Maule never wavered in his decision to put team first. Now he's a state champion, over and over, and an award-winner because he did.

"I did my best to make sure everyone was confident and supportive of each other," he said. "One of the big life lessons I learned was that if you are part of a team, you should always make that your priority. If you're focused solely on yourself, a team won't function well. I tried to live by that every season, and I'll continue to do that when I'm in college."