Chris Giesting’s list of collegiate accolades is long. Over the course of his four years at Notre Dame, Giesting has won a national championship for the 2012 distance medley relay, an ACC indoor title for the 400-meter sprint in 2014 and is a four-time first-team all-American.
Now, Giesting is setting his sights higher: on a berth in the Olympics.
“[My] long term [goal] is obviously the Olympic trails coming up this year,” Giesting said. “Everybody’s gunning for it. I’m looking good to make the trials, and the top 28 in the country make it. I’ve got a time posted that puts me [in the] top 28 easy right now. I should be able to hit the trials and run the race of my life kind of thing. Get there and run as well as I can on those three days of competition in July … I really have that to look forward to.”
And the Batesville, Indiana, native is well on his way. On March 19 and 20, Giesting took part in the IAAF world championships in Portland, Oregon. Giesting raced in the 4×400-meter relay and led the United States to a world championship, completing the third leg of the relay in 45.34 seconds.
Giesting’s solid performance should give him momentum heading into the Olympic trials in July, but he said that his biggest advantage may be his connection to his alma mater.
Since he’s graduated, the former Irish sprinter has stayed on at Notre Dame as a volunteer track coach and while he said the change of pace is pronounced, the opportunity to train in a familiar environment has been a boost for him.
“It’s a lot different,” Giesting said. “Especially coming from Notre Dame where a lot of the coursework is pretty tough, it’s nice to get away from all that and be able to focus just on running. And it’s nice that my coaches and the people in the athletic department have allowed me to train here still. I’m helping out the team, I’m a volunteer coach here, which lets me use facilities, train, weight room and it’s been good to be able to use my home turf for another year or so, because I’m just so comfortable being here.”
Back at the school where he holds five school records, Giesting said he enjoys mentoring the current track athletes, both as a coach and as a friend.
“I get to see them almost everyday in practice and work with them, which is great,” Giesting said. “They respond pretty well to training with me, or to things I have to say, a lot of them joke around with me too, since we’re more friends, I just graduated so they see me as a teammate still. It’s really cool when I get to watch them race and sit back and tell them, ‘oh I think you did this,’ or, ‘you’re race looked good, work on this.’ Same things in practices too, if it looked like they’re tiring out, I can tell them, ‘hey, relax on this point in the workout and hit it hard here’ and try to push them a little bit to get them better…I get to sit back watch for once.”
In addition to joking with his former teammates, Giesting said another plus to his new job is his ability to cheer on his friends in ways he couldn’t before.
“I’m so used to running two or three events at a meet, just running all the time, running relays,” Giesting said. “Watching them run and seeing them do a relay together is fun for me because I’m just rooting for them, I never get to root for them while I’m in the race with them. Just cheering for them to run well, it’s really weird, I’m not used to it yet. I still want to be out there running with them.”
And while Giesting can’t go back in time and don the Irish uniform as a player, becoming a track coach is a career he has considered.
“I think about it sometimes,” Giesting said. “I get to work with [Irish head coach Alan] Turner, who’s an unbelievable coach. He makes a lot of great athletes even better. It’s always something I keep in mind, I have saved a lot of the workouts I’ve done in preparation of, ‘hey maybe I do want to do this someday,’ and I’ll need something to work with. So I’ve saved a lot of workouts just in case. But I’m not sure, I’m definitely going to stick in the sport. I love it too much that I’m going to do something in the sport, whether it’s coaching or in the industry side of things.”
Of course, for the time being, Giesting’s main focus is on Rio De Janeiro and the 2016 Olympics.
“It’s basically 2016 and then reevaluate for 2020 olympic trials, just take it four years at a time.”
And if Giesting’s four years at Notre Dame are any indication, an Olympic appearance may not be far-fetched.