Christie making Coyotes proud with national race walk titles

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Cuyamaca College alumnus Nick Christie feels he is ready to put it on the line in the upcoming USA Track and Field outdoor national championship meet.

The USATF outdoor nationals are scheduled June 25-28 in Eugene, Ore. The former Coyote ranks as one of the top entrants in the men’s 20K race-walk field.

Christie, who is also a graduate of Grossmont High School, appears to be at the top of his game at the present time.

Cuyamaca College alumnus Nick Christie feels he is ready to put it on the line in the upcoming USA Track and Field outdoor national championship meet.

The USATF outdoor nationals are scheduled June 25-28 in Eugene, Ore. The former Coyote ranks as one of the top entrants in the men’s 20K race-walk field.

Christie, who is also a graduate of Grossmont High School, appears to be at the top of his game at the present time.

He competed in and won the two-mile race walk distance at the USATF indoor nationals in Boston on Feb. 28 with a time of 12:42:12. Five days later, on March 6, he set a new record in the 3,000-meter race walk at the NAIA indoor nationals in Geneva, Ohio, with a time of 11:46.20.

“It was a fun week,” Christie said, smiling.

Christie edged one of America’s established premier race walkers, John Nunn of the U.S. Army, to win this year’s USATF indoor national championship. Nunn, a two-time Olympian, finished second in 12:44.43.

“I told Cuyamaca coach Tim Seaman that I wanted to keep it in the family,” Christie explained. “Tim won 14 national indoor titles in race walking. I wanted to give something back to Cuyamaca and keep his legacy rolling through his athletes.”

Christie competed at the NAIA indoor nationals while wrapping up his senior year at Missouri Baptist University. He entered the 3K race walk finals as the top-seed walker and dominated the race, winning by a margin of 26 seconds over runner-up Anthony Peters, a freshman from St. Ambrose University.

Christie’s teammate Alejandro Chavez finished third in the race in 12:27.76.

Both Christie and Nunn are expected to rematch at the upcoming USATF outdoor nationals. It should be a grand duel on the track surface.

Nunn is currently ranked No.1 among U.S. men’s race walkers while Christie is ranked No. 2.

“I’m ready to battle him,” Christie said, confidence echoing in his voice.

Christie finished second to Nunn with a time of 1:35:04 at the Pan Am 20K race walking championships May 9 in Arica, Chile. Nunn captured first place in 1:29:33.

Christie had previously finished a close second to Nunn (1:26:26 to 1:26:59) at the U.S. Pan Am Trials in April in New Jersey.

Christie finished third in the 20K race walk at the 2014 USATF outdoor nationals.  While still at student at Cuyamaca College, he finished third at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and just missed out on a bid to make the U.S. team for the London Games.

Now that he has graduated from Missouri Baptist, Christie said his running career has not ground to a halt. He will continue to focus on completing his Olympic dream.

“I’m still in training to make the American team for the 2016 Olympics,” he said.

The USA 50K nationals are set Nov. 22 in Santee and the 50K U.S. Olympic Trials follow Feb. 21, 2016, at the same location. The 20K U.S. Olympic Trials are scheduled for July 2016 in Eugene, Ore.

Making strides

Ryan Maize, another Cuyamaca College alumnus, is also making strides at the national level in track and field. The El Capitan High School graduate recently set a school record for CSU San Marcos in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase before ending his junior season with a seventh-place finish at the NAIA outdoor national championships May 21-23 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Maize clocked 9:01.38 at the Occidental Invitational for college and university teams on May 9.

He qualified to compete in the NAIA outdoor nationals in both the 1,500-meter run and 3,000-meter steeplechase. However, he elected to scratch the 1,500 in order to concentrate on the steeplechase.

Maize timed 9:19.42 to place seventh at the NAIA outdoor nationals.

It was his first time competing in the steeplechase at the NAIA outdoor nationals. He won the California Community College state championship in the event in 9:17.03 in 2014.

His best time in the event while competing at Cuyamaca College was 9:15.90. He timed 10:09.27 at the USA Junior outdoor national championships in June 2014.

He said competing successfully in the steeplechase relies “mostly on a lot of strong running.”

“It’s 99 percent running,” Maize explained. “The whole race is exhausting because you’re running that much.”

Maize, who represented E Capitan at the state high school meet in the 4×400 relay as a senior in 2012, timed 3:54.39 in the 1500 distance at the UC Irvine Steve Scott Invitational in early May. His best time at Cuyamaca College was 3:58.94 at the Coast Classic in April 2014.

The NAIA level has presented him with a wider pool of competition.

“It’s a lot bigger scale–you’re competing against people from all over the country rather than just from your state in community college,” Maize said.  

Maize should be challenged at a new level next season when CSU San Marcos, an independent at the NAIA level, makes the jump to conference competition at the NCAA Division II level.

The Cougars will compete in the California Collegiate Athletic Association against schools such as Cal Poly Pomona, Chico State, CSU Los Angeles, Humboldt State, CSU San Bernardino, San Francisco State, Sonoma State and UC San Diego.

“It’s a lot more competitive, the schools are closer and I’ve grown up competing against a lot of the runners at those schools, so I am more familiar with them.”

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