Cuyamaca cross-country coach sets the pace at U.S. track outdoor nationals

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It isn’t every day that a coach gets to compete alongside his students in a major championship race. But that’s exactly what Cuyamaca College cross-country coach 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, a two-time Olympian, competed alongside Nick Christie, Alejandro Chavez and Michael Nemeth, all of whom he coaches, in the 12-man field.

It isn’t every day that a coach gets to compete alongside his students in a major championship race. But that’s exactly what Cuyamaca College cross-country coach 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, a two-time Olympian, competed alongside Nick Christie, Alejandro Chavez and Michael Nemeth, all of whom he coaches, in the 12-man field.

“It’s wonderful any time I get 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, who competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.

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. 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 Rachel (a 2012 Olympian in the 20K race walk for Canada) being the parents of a two-month old newborn, Seaman said he is inclined to heed the championship 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. 

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 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.

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 U.S. 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.

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 regard 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.”

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