In every sport, there are ordinary days and extraordinary days. For eight LI high schools, yesterday was an extraordinary day. Those eight got to compete with three former Olympians in the USATF Long Island Race Walk Championships at St. Anthony's High School.
Tim Seaman, 42 and a 1990 North Babylon graduate who currently resides in San Diego, competed in the 20-kilometer walk at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and 2004 games in Athens. Seaman walked the 3,000 meters at St. Anthony's in 11 minutes, 52.31 seconds, breaking his previous world record of 12:08 for men ages 40-44, he said. He also qualified for U.S. Indoor Nationals in Albuquerque in February.
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"This is one of the last competitions of my career," Seaman said. "I wanted to have one more race on Long Island in front of my high school coach, my parents, and all the great high school athletes we have competing today."
Seaman brought two other walkers, his wife, Rachel, who grew up in Canada, and Maria Michta, a 2004 Sachem High School graduate. Both competed in the 2012 Games in London. Seaman said he wanted to bring both of them to the track so they could clock a fast time.
"This indoor facility is world class," Seaman said of St. Anthony's track. "I've competed all over the world and this is a great, fast surface. It was wonderful."
Michta is currently pursuing her PhD at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She walked a 12:42.97, joining Seaman in qualifying for Indoor Nationals.
"It was nice to come back to LI for a high-level race," Michta said. "We didn't compete at St. Anthony's when I was in high school. This is an amazing facility. It's nice to be able to utilize it."
Michta won the state championship in her sophomore, junior and senior years. She said the event brought back high school memories.
"You come back, you hear all the high school kids up and down the hallway, you smell the Icy Hot, you feel the dry air and you feel like you're right back where you were 10 years ago," Michta said.
The race was Rachel's first since the London Olympics and the birth of her and Tim's daughter in April. She walked a 12:38.16, a personal best.
Among the eight LI high schoolers walking with the Olympians was Katie Michta, a senior at Sachem North and Maria's younger sister.
"She was way ahead of me," said Katie, who finished in 15:04.51. "But it was still nice having her in the same race and knowing that we're racing hard together."
Kaitlin Martins, a sophomore at Sachem North, also competed, walking 16:16.42.
"The experience was insane," Martins said. "I was on the outside and [the Olympians] were on the inside. Seeing them, as fast as they are, was awesome."