Mike Waller snags three more national track championships

Federal Way resident Mike Waller crosses the finish line first in a 100-meter race at the Masters Track Championships. Waller won titles in the 100, 200 and 400 at the 2009 meet, held last weekend in Wisconsin.  - Courtesy photo
Federal Way resident Mike Waller crosses the finish line first in a 100-meter race at the Masters Track Championships. Waller won titles in the 100, 200 and 400 at the 2009 meet, held last weekend in Wisconsin.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Mike Waller is a national champion — again.

The 50-year-old Federal Way resident recently pulled off a rare three-event sweep at the 2009 United States Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The four-day event concluded Sunday in Oshkosh, Wisc.

Waller outdistanced the competition to win gold in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races in Wisconsin. Waller, who currently works as an assistant coach on the Pacific Lutheran University track and field team, competed in the 50-and-over age category in all three races. Last year, Waller won the national championship in the 400.

“I went there with the expectation that I would win,” Waller said. “I came into the meet ranked No. 2 nationally in every event, so I had a pretty good idea that I could run fast times.”

The US Masters Championships drew more than 1,000 participants from all over the United States with competitors ranging from 30 to 95 years old. Track events ranged from the 100 meters up to 10,000 meters in all age groups, while field events included a full range of jumps and throws.

Waller won the 100-meter dash in the 50-and-over category with a blazing time of 11.31 and the 200 in the 200 in 23.45. Waller outdistanced a star-studded field in both races.

Waller beat the reigning indoor world champion, Val Barnwell, and the reigning outdoor world champ, Marty Krulee, in both events. Barnwell finished second in the 100 in 11.38 and second in the 200 (23.8) and Krulee was third in both events at the US Championships.

Barnwell won the 100 and 200 at last year’s World Masters Indoor Championships in France and Krulee swept the two events at the 2008 World Masters Outdoor Championships in Italy.

Waller also took home the gold medal in the 50-over 400 meters in a time of 53.39. James Chinn finished second in the event with a time of 53.86.

Waller will compete next at the 2009 World Masters Indoor Championship in March in Kamloops, Canada.

“I will get some world exposure there,” Waller said. “It should be fun.”

A highlight of the 2009 US Masters Outdoor Championships came July 9 when Frank Levine of Norristown, Penn., and Leland McPhie, of San Diego, set a pair of national records. Levine won the 5,000 meters in a time of 50:10.56 and McPhie won the shot put with a throw of 22 feet, 6.5 inches. Both happen to be 95 years old.

“To see one of these meets is just phenomenal,” Waller said. “There is always a lot of quality performances. Just to see 65-year-old grandmas running 14 seconds in the 100 is pretty cool.”

The event also drew five former Olympians and 25 reigning world champions.

Waller’s coaching background also includes six seasons as an assistant at Decatur High School (1999-2004) and six years at the Federal Way Track Club (1995-2000) as the head sprint coach. Waller helped coach the Decatur girls’ team to a third-place finish at the state championships in 2004 and coached Princess Joy Griffey, the 2004 and 2005 state champion in the 100 meters.

Waller competed for one season at Utah State University, one season at Spokane Community College and two seasons at Whitworth College in both football and track. At SCC, he anchored the school’s 4x100 relay team that won the NWAACC championship. At Whitworth, he was a two-time NAIA national qualifier in the indoor 55-meter dash and the 4x100 relay.

Waller is also a pastor at Christ Life Center Church in Tacoma. He and his wife, Vanessa, are the parents of three sons, Michael Jr., Joshua and Caleb. Michael Waller Jr. is currently playing wide receiver at Central Washington University and Joshua Waller is playing football at Las Angeles Valley College. Both starred at Todd Beamer High School.

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