Thu, Jun 27 2013 01:30 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
It isn’t every day that a coach gets to compete alongside his students in a major championship race. But that’s exactly what former Chula Vista Olympic Training Center resident athlete Tim Seaman and three of his students accomplished during the 20K men’s race walk final at the recent United States Track and Field outdoor national championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Seaman, the cross-country coach at Cuyamaca College, competed alongside Nick Christie, Alejandro Chavez and Michael Nemeth, all of whom Seaman coaches, in the 12-man field.
“It’s wonderful whenever I get the chance to compete alongside any of my students in a race, but to have three of them in the same race I have to say was something special,” said Seaman, a two-time Olympian who resides in Imperial Beach with his wife Rachel, a Canadian race walker and a 2012 London Olympian.
What made the June 23 race even more special for Seaman is that he won it with a top time of 1 hour, 30 minutes, 13.06 seconds.
At stake was a ticket to August’s world championship meet in Moscow.
John Nunn, who competed at the 2012 London Games in the 50K race walk, finished second in 1:31:01.64.
“What an amazing experience it was to win the 20-kilometer nationals again,” Seaman said. “I was 300 meters down at the 10K mark and I was able to catch back up to Patrick (Stroupe) with two kilometers to go.”
Stroupe, who led the race early, finished third in 1:31:08.73.
Seaman said it was a matter of putting into practice what he preached to his athletes. “(The key was) being patient and waiting until the end of the race to strike,” he said.
This year’s outdoor title was the 46th national championship for Seaman, who competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.
No other American athlete has won more gold medals in the sport of race walking.
Seaman, 41, set a new U.S. and world record of 12:08.65 by winning the 3,000 meter race walk during March’s USATF indoor national championships in Albuquerque. It was his 13th indoor championship and first world record.
The world championships are scheduled Aug. 10-18. Despite he and his wife being the parents of a two-month old newborn, Seaman said he is inclined to heed the championship race walking call at least on more time.
“As of right now, I am most likely going to go to Moscow and compete in the world championships for the fifth time in my career,” he said.
Going the distance
Seaman had high hopes for his student entourage in Des Moines.
Christie, a Grossmont High School and Cuyamaca College alumnus, was coming off a star-studded season in which he captured the indoor NAIA national championship in the 3,000-meter race walk, setting a record of 11:59.73 in the process.
Chavez, the 2012 national champion, finished second behind Christie with a time of 12:00.57.
The two current Missouri Baptist University teammates competed in the 2013 outdoor NAIA 5K race walk in May, with Chavez taking first and Christie finishing third to both finish the college season as double All-Americans.
But a delay in the 20K race walk final at this year’s U.S. outdoor nationals caused havoc. Chavez placed fifth in 1:37:00.25, well off his personal best, while Christie and Nemeth both failed to finish the race.
“Unfortunately, Nick he had to stop the race early,” Seaman explained. “He had been sick for a few weeks and things finally caught up with him. It was a good learning experience, though.”
Nemeth, meanwhile, received his first-ever disqualification, which was obviously disappointing.
In race walking, competitors must keep their feet in contact with the ground at all times and also must keep their supporting leg in a straightened position from the point of contact with the ground.
“With him being coached remotely, I don't get to see his technique as often as I would like,” Seaman said.
Seaman said Chavez “did well, but crashed toward the end of the race.”
“The lack of food, due to the four-hour-and-15-minute delay of the race due to rain, caught up with him,” Seaman said.
Things should be looking up for Seaman’s students, however.
Christie competed at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., finishing third; both Chavez and Christie are expected to be in the mix for the Olympic Trials for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Making a splash Besides his three race walking students, Seaman also had one more athlete to coach: Cuyamaca’s Ryan Maize in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Maize, an El Capitan High School graduate, finished 16th out of 19 competitors in the junior men's race in 10:09.27.
Maize had finished fifth in 9:30.59 at the California Community College state championships in May to cap his freshman season at Cuyamaca.
“With him racing in the middle of the day — in 88-degree and very humid weather — it was tough,” Seaman said in regards to Maize’s performance. “It was also a very long season for him. It was the first time he has ever competed that late in the year.
“With that said, it was an amazing experience for him. Competing with the best juniors in America really motivated him. He wants to work even harder to qualify for the senior nationals and hopefully the 2016 Olympic Trials.”
Seaman and Co. was just one contingent of a group of 30 athletes with San Diego-area ties who competed at last week’s USATF senior outdoor nationals.
Seventeen athletes from the CV-OTC competed. Sean Furey, a 2012 Olympian, placed third in the men’s javelin throw (253-10) while Ronald Taylor finished third in the men’s long jump (26-8.5) and Tori Bowie was fourth in the women’s long jump (21-11.5) to lead the center’s resident athlete crew.
Other place-finishes by male athletes included 2004 Olympian Jarred Rome in the shot put (sixth, 196-6), Chris Benard in the triple jump (seventh, 55-0.25), Craig Kinsley in the javelin throw (eighth, 240-9), Tyron Stewart in the long jump (eighth, 26-1.5), Jamie Nieto in the men’s high jump (14th, 7-0.5), Eric Werskey in the shot put (15th, 61-4.25) and Reindell Cole in the long jump (16th, 24-4.5).
Other place-finishes by female athletes included Britney Henry in the hammer throw (fifth, 228-3), April Sinkler in the triple jump (seventh, 44-0), Kristin Smith in the hammer throw (eighth, 219-8), Kiani Profit in the heptathlon (ninth, 5,899 points) and Crystal Manning in the triple jump (10th, 43-1.75).
Brittney Reese automatically qualifies for August’s world championships in the women’s long jump as a defending champion in the event.
A number of former San Diego Section high school standouts also competed, including University City alumnus Mac Fleet (sixth in the men’s 1,500 run, 3:46.06), Mt. Carmel’s Ben Bruce (seventh in the 3,000 men’s steeplechase, 8:36.82), Mission Bay grad Charles Jock (eighth in the men’s 800 run, 1:46.42) and La Jolla’s Jeff Coover (fourth in the men’s pole vault, 18-4.5).
San Diego State also sent a sizable contingent, highlighted by Whitney Ashley’s second-place finish in the women’s discus throw (200-9).
Also among local collegians, UC San Diego’s Linda Rainwater placed eighth in the women’s high jump (5-10.5).
The next level
Among 2012 Olympians who competed out of the CV-OTC, Brad Walker won the men’s pole vault by clearing 5.65 meters (18-6.5) while Will Claye finished second in the men’s triple jump (55-11). Claye came home from the London Games with a silver medal in the triple jump and a bronze medal in the long jump.
Among the pole vaulters who were feverishly working to better their marks in the final event of the summer vaulting series at the CV-OTC on June 13, several went on to have success at the USATF outdoor nationals.
Katherine Viuf placed fourth at 4.40 meters (14-5.25) in the women’s pole vault finals while April Bennett was eighth at 4.3 meters (14-1.25). Becky Holliday, a CV-OTC regular, finished third at 4.55 meters (14-11). Jennifer Suhr took first place by clearing 4.7 meters (15-5).
Cole Walsh, second at May’s Arizona high school state championships and the top finishers at the ensuing Golden West Invitational, finished third in the junior nationals by clearing 5.0 meters (16-4.75).
© 2009 The Star-News