One chapter of Sam Seekins’ running career is coming to a close just as another is about to begin.
The Bowdoin College senior and Erskine Academy graduate competed in the 5,000 meter run Saturday at the New England Small College Athletic Conference championships, finishing second. Three and possibly four meets — New England Div. III, Open New England, ECAC and NCAAs — lay ahead.
The fact that Seekins has already secured a job at Unum of Portland has eased the burden of cramming for spring exams, particularly for a physics major.
“The science majors at Bowdoin are not for the faint of heart,” track and field coach Peter Slovenski said.
Seekins is geared for the stretch run now that he’s fully recovered from calf and hip injuries he suffered during the cross country season.
“It made my knees begin to hurt as well,” Seekins said. “Now I’m totally pain free. I wasn’t able to run very much indoor (track).”
Seekins, who is also an environmental studies major, took an interest in business late in college, which led to his job at an insurance company.
“It’s problem solving and risk management,” he said. “If I like it I’m going to stay there.”
One thing Seekins is sure to like is Unum’s corporate track team, an organization he plans to join right away.
“I consider myself to be a runner, not just in college,” he said. “I want to be a lifelong runner. I love road races.”
Seekins said he’ll test some marathons when he gets older but the 5K is his best distance. He recently won the State of Maine championship in that event, one he’s competed in during indoor and outdoor seasons since his freshman year.
“I was fortunate enough to win seven of eight,” he said.
Seekins finished the 5,000 run — which Colby hosted — in 14 minutes 52,5 seconds, about 10 seconds better than his time at the State of Maine championship. His PR in the event is 14:28, run during the indoor season two years ago, and he believes he can approach that time as his collegiate career winds down.
“I’m sort of getting back into shape,” he said.
Seekins is fast enough but not a burner who can come from behind in the final couple of 100 yards. His strength, Slovenski said, is in his work ethic and mental toughness.
“He never lets up in his races,” the Bowdoin coach said. “Sam can run with or follow a fast pace then have a great finish. If the field has some milers in it, Sam will try to set a faster pace himself.”
Seekins was an All-American in the 2012 cross country season, and as Slovenski points out “the longer the race the more it becomes the character of the runner.”
He likes Seekins’ chances down the stretch and believes the fact he’s secured employment will take some of the pressure of exams from him.
“It’s tough to say how far he can go,” Slovenski said. “Sometimes a runner of Sam’s talent can make a lot of progress in the last month.”
Seekins said Slovenski helped him improve his running form and turnover rate and also helped him put running into perspective.
“The biggest thing is setting goals for yourself personally and also for the team” Seekins said. “By improving yourself, you’re also improving the team.”