Q&A with Chris Malaya

| Senior News Editor

Senior Chris Malaya took first in the 400-meter dash and helped lead a 4×400 squad to a first place finish at the Illinois College Snowbird Open.  The relay’s performance was only 2.92 seconds away from provisionally qualifying for nationals. Malaya was named a UAA Athlete of the Week and is also a Student Life Athlete of the Week.

Student Life: You were seeded at 50.62 behind Terrell Shannon at 50.28 heading into the 400-meter dash. What were you thinking in the run up to the event?

Chris Malaya: I’d actually put a lot of pressure on myself for that race because I’m in uncharted territory: I’ve never run this fast before. I was actually really excited to see that there was someone seeded ahead of me. It means that if he is that fast, it means you can follow him through. Seeding is important in the way that you can go in and say that this is the person I need to watch.

SL: What’s your strategy for your races?

CM: You generally divide the race into phases. Come out of the blocks hard, coast through the turns, and accelerate down the stretch. Make sure not to get packed. It depends on the track. Run hard through the straights and glide through the turns.

SL: You run both the 400-meter dash and the 4×400. Which do you prefer?

CM: Personally I like the 4 by 4 the most. It’s my favorite event because you do have a team involved. When you have a good team, everyone’s focused, everyone’s working hard. What would normally be a liability of saying, ‘These people are all depending on me,’ makes you 10 times stronger because everyone says, ‘We’re there for each other, and we’re running hard.’

SL: How did you wind up competing in track?

CM:I had been told I should run in high school, and I never did because I played soccer and track was punishment for soccer. My sophomore year I was going out for the soccer team and I was playing a pickup game on Mudd Field, stuck my foot in a divot, and tore my ankle in half. I tried playing over the summer but I couldn’t run on it. I needed to be playing a varsity sport. I tried out for track right after Christmas last year.

SL: What’s an interesting fact about you?

CM: I’m from rural Texas. I live on a ranch outside of Austin, and most people don’t really find me sort of country that way. It’s not a working ranch that we breed horses or cattle. We have six quarter horses that we used for team roping back when my parents were younger. Sort of a sport ranch.

SL: What advice do you have for underclassmen?

CM: Undergrad sort of in the general scheme of things doesn’t really mean too much. Grad school’s increasingly important and everything. Generally I just say, have a good time. The biggest thing I would say, as cheesy as it sounds, is sort of find yourself. Find out what you like and really explore. Make the most of having such a diversified education.

The track and field team competes at the Rose-Hulman Engineer Indoor Invitational at Terre Haute, Ind., on Jan. 30.