Long Islanders Tim Seaman and Maria Michta win racewalk titles
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- One more time, Long Islanders Tim Seaman and Maria Michta have hit for the Daily Double at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Call them America's king and queen of the 3000-meter racewalk.
An hour and a half after Seaman, a West Babylon High School and University of Parkside graduate, won the men's 3000 walk title in 12:08.65 Sunday at the Albuquerque Convention Center, Michta, a Sachem High and LIU Post alumna, followed suit by taking the women's title in 13:07.07.
Two-time Olympian Seaman now has won 45 career U.S. walk crowns -- at all distances -- and 14 of them have come at Indoor Nationals, either 3000 or 5000 meters. No American athlete has ever won more Indoor Nationals golds. Lance Deal's total of 13 in the 35-pound weight throw was the previous high.
"It may have been my 45th [national title] all told, but I don't think there will be too many more," Seaman said. "I'm 40 and it's time to start thinking about other things. We're [he and his wife, Rachel, a Canadian Olympic racewalker] expecting a son in May and I know my life's going to be a lot different after that. I'll be happy to pass the baton to the younger generation."
One of his star coaching pupils happens to be Michta, 26, the lone U.S. entry in the 20-kilometer at the 2012 London Olympic Games, who now has won at Indoor Nationals four straight years.
Both races had similar scripts. Missourian Patrick Stroupe battled Seaman for the lead through the first mile (eight laps) around the banked 200-meter track before dropping back over the final seven circuits and seeing Seaman win by more than half a lap.
Stroupe held on for second in 12:30.15 with Dan Serianni (Rochester, N.Y.) third in 13:03.40.
Oregon's Erin Gray hung on Michta's shoulder for 11 circuits. Like Stroupe, though, she couldn't maintain contact with the leader and settled back into the walker-up position in 13:17.90, with Miranda Melville third at 13:24.96.
Michta, 26, is in the homestretch of her doctoral studies in virology -- she's a member of a team chasing the causes and cures for the hepatitis-C virus -- at Manhattan's Mount Sinai College of Medicine.
"The pace was slower than I thought it would be, but that was fine with me," Michta said. "My schedule's still tight but I still find time to train somehow. I'm definitely going to go all out to make the big ones later this year -- the Pan Am Racewalk Cup in Guatemala in May and the World Championships in Moscow in August."
Seaman now is based in California and coaching the track team at Cuyamaca College, in addition to coaching Michta and other aspiring walkers.
In Saturday's action, Westbury resident Thomas "Jake" Freeman overcame seven-time champion A.G. Kruger's early lead and won the Indoor Nationals 35-pound weight throw crown.
The Manhattan College graduate whirled around the Convention Center ring and let his implement fly. And when it landed 23.51 meters (77 feet, 1 ¾ inches) away, Freeman knew he had done something very special.
That big bomb held up as the winner, relegating Kruger to second with his opening-round 23.37 (76-8¼).
"That was my best throw in a while and made up for a lot," Freeman said.
It made amends for his inability to compete in this meet last year after winning at 2011 Indoor Nationals; he was completing a one-year suspension after testing positive for a marijuana metabolite. And it made up for a subpar eighth-place finish in the hammer throw at the 2012 USA Olympic Trials.