800-meter specialist’s athletic success doesn’t detract from real-world goals

Junior Nate Seely has been an impressive performer for the Seattle Pacific men’s track team since he was a freshman. The two-time defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference 800-meter champion is optimistic about this indoor season after a solid opening meet two weeks ago.

Seely has plans outside of athletics for his future. An English and secondary education major, he hopes to become an English-as-a-second-language teacher either in the United States or Asia.

Seely has twice won the GNAC 800-meter championship and is seeking his third title this year.

“I’m an 800-meter specialist,” Seely said. “I kind of found my race I was really good at and stuck with it.”

He finished with a time of 1 minute, 53.6 seconds, a personal best and good enough to finish sixth among all competitors in the Falcons’ opening meet at University of Washington on Jan. 14.

“It was a lot better than I expected. It’s a lot faster than I’ve run at any indoor [event],” Seely said. “My primary competition in the GNAC was in that race as well, and I beat both of them pretty handily, so I’m looking to see if anybody comes out of the woodwork for the GNAC race in Nampa, Idaho a month from now.”

After sustaining a hamstring injury during the cross-country season, Seely’s performance in his first race impressed head track coach Karl Lerum.

“I was absolutely impressed with Nate’s first race. To be able to come out after quite a bit of a layoff … and be that sharp the first meet out is remarkable,” Lerum said in a phone interview.

His time was good enough to put him on the NCAA provisional qualifying list and automatically qualify him for the GNAC championship race later this season.

On his position among competitors on the national provisional list, Seely said, “Realistically, I’ll need to run about a second faster to actually make it to nationals, since only the top 10 or 12 runners in the nation make it. Nobody has made it out of the Northwest since Eddie Strickler in 2006, so it’s pretty competitive.”

Seely expressed hopes that stiffer competition will allow him to raise his own level of performance so that he will be able to qualify.

“This next weekend, I’m running at the Husky Invitational, and I’ll get to race some Division I runners who are a lot faster than me. If I can stick with them, I’ll run a lot faster and hopefully solidify my national ranking. The goal is always nationals,” Seely said.

Lerum said Seely has a chance to make it to nationals, and he has high hopes for the 800 guru.

Lerum said if Seely can stay healthy and train as well as he has been, he has a chance to be very successful.

Seely’s success in the 800 is as much mental as it is physical.

“He has not had the fastest 800 time in the GNAC, but he’s a good racer. He stays in races and makes smart moves, puts himself in position to win races,” Lerum said.

“There’s a lot of strategy involved, particularly in high-stakes races. People tend to not go out as fast so they can save themselves for the end. Rarely in the 800 does the person who starts out in the lead win in the end. Lots of people sit on the pack and then kick at the end,” Seely said.

Although other top GNAC runners cannot keep up with Seely, he admitted he is not the fastest runner. His success comes as much from his tactical methods as his physical ability.

“If you run the race right, it’s easier to win, even against people who should be beating you,” Seely said. “Strategy changes depending on who’s going where. Against faster runners, I’d stick on their butts the whole race, and when they’re out in front the whole time, they don’t have that mental advantage, and I kick them at the end.”

However, Seely is not solely defined by his dominance on the track.

He is currently involved at a non-profit organization called Helping Link in the International District, teaching English as a second language to Vietnamese children.

“I’ve been there for two years,” Seely said. “Most of my students come from Jackson Middle School, and I’m hoping to get a student-teaching job there.”

A gifted runner and an exemplary student, Seely has great aspirations for both his athletic career and his future vocation.

However, in the near future, Seely will participate in his second indoor meet this weekend at the UW Invitational at Dempsey Indoor Track.

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Title: 800-meter specialist’s athletic success doesn’t detract from real-world goals | Author: Brandon Bergfalk | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2012-01-25 | Internal ID: 7969