GETTING TO KNOW.....Patrick FEENEY & Chris GIESTING

4/21/2016
 


Chris Giesting grew up in Batesville, Indiana, situated roughly halfway between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, off of Interstate 74.  His current roommate, training partner, former high school rival and fellow Notre Dame alum, Patrick Feeney grew up 50 miles up the road in New Palestine.  Both got their start in running following the encourgement of their brothers (see the Q&A section below to learn more about the brotherly influence).  Last month, six years after first toeing the line against each other, the two were receiving gold medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon for their roles on the winning 4x400m relay team.
 
The two first raced in 2010 at the IHSAA regional meet in Connersville. The distance was 400m. Feeney was a senior and Giesting a junior.   Based on his 2nd place finish at the state meet the prior year, Feeney was considered the favorite to win the state title; but in their first meeting it was Giesting who ran to to victory; 48.03 to 48.27.  

The following week at the state meet Feeney charged to the lead early and with 100m left still held a 10m lead on Giesting with Jarvis McMillian of Hobart another 5m back.  He looked poised to claim the state title but over the final 40m a hard charging Jarvis McMillian of Hobart went by Giesting first and then nipped Feeney at the line, 47.45 to 47.54, to deny Feeney the state title again. Feeney was second and a lunging Giesting third in 47.69. It was the only time in state meet history that three runners broke 48 seconds.  watch video 

“My senior year was probably my biggest disappointment," reflected Feeney six year later." As the top returning 400m runner I wanted to win and wasn't going to be happy with anything else. I got out very hard and had a 5-10 meter lead on the field at 300m. Going out too fast came back to get me though and I got passed with about 5 meters left in the race. I still ran a personal best of 47.54, but I was very disappointed that I didn't win.“
 
The two only raced twice in high school each getting the best of the other on one occasion. In 2011, with Feeney at Notre Dame, Giesting won the state title (outrunning McMillian 47.33 to 47.73) and then a week later completed his high school career by setting the all-time Indiana state record 46.89 at the Midwest Meet of Champions.
 
When the two reconnected at Notre Dame they essentially re-wrote the school’s record book together; often trading school records back-and-forth.  Feeney was a nine time all-American while Giesting earned seven all-American certificates.  They ended their careers #1 and #2 on both the school’s indoor and outdoor all-time lists with Giesting holding both school records (45.74 indoors and 45.53 outdoors) but Feeney was only .18 (indoors) and .03 seconds (outdoors) off those records.  Indoors they ran together on five of the top ten  4x400m squads in school history and outdoors on nine of the top ten with the only outlier being the school record set by the 2015 team of which Giesting anchored.  Giesting holds the school record in the 500m indoors and was a member of the winning Distance Medley Relay team at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships.  During the three years together they raced each other 32 times with Giesting holding a slight edge; winning 18 (or 56%) of the head-to-head matches.
 
In May Giesting graduated and joined Feeney in the world of post collegiate running.  They have chosen to stay in South Bend and train under their college coach Alan Turner.  In March the duo finished fifth (Giesting) and sixth (Feeney) at the USATF Indoor Championships in Portland and were selected to the 6-person Team USA relay squad for the following week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships (also held in Portland).  

In the qualifying round at the world championships Giesting ran the third leg for Team USA and appropriately handed off to Feeney who ran the anchor leg.  Team USA won their heat to qualify for the finals.  Giesting’s split was 45.68 while Feeney ran 46.90.   Based on Giesting’s performance in the heats he was selected to run in the finals where he ran the third leg. He took the baton one step ahead of his counterpart on the Bahamian team and fired off a 45.34 spilt; provide Vernon Norwood, Team USAs anchor runner, with a 12 meter lead.  Norwood protected the lead create by Giesting and crossed the line arms raised in victory stopping the clock at 3:02.45; just .33 seconds off the championship record. 

Feeney and Giesting were nice enough to answer our questions so we all can GET TO KNOW them better on and off the track.  So let’s get to know the dynamic duo beyond just their titles and accolades.  

You both graduated from Notre Dame in the past two years; where are you living now and what are you doing post-collegiately? 

FEENEY:  I am still living in South Bend, IN and training at Notre Dame. Once I graduated from ND, I knew the Olympic Trials were only two years away and my 400m time was already where it needed to be in order to make the Trials so I decided to stick around for a few more years. Obviously, it would be a dream come true to make the US Olympic Team, but my ultimate goal in the long run is to become a doctor. As a science major, I decided to delay medical school for at least two years in order to pursue my Olympic dream, but my other dream is to become an orthopedic surgeon. 
GIESTING:  I'm currently living in Granger (a suburb of South Bend) with two other former Irish teammates. It's about 15 minutes from Notre Dame's campus. Myself along with Pat and Jade Barber are all training for the 2016 Olympic Trials! 


Who is your current coach?
FEENEY: Alan Turner, Head Coach at the University of Notre Dame
GIESTING: Alan Turner. He was my sprint coach in college and is now the head coach of Notre Dame.
 
What did you major in at Notre Dame?
FEENEY - Science Pre-Professional (Pre-Med)
GIESTING - Management Entrepreneurship in the Business School
 
Favorite Food? 
FEENEY: Chicken
GIESTING: Ice Cream
 
Favorite Singer/Band? 
FEENEYThe Beatles
GIESTING: Above and Beyond
 
Favorite author:
FEENEY:  J.K. Rowling
GIESTINGOrson Scott Card
 
Favorite book: 
FEENEYAll of the Harry Potter books
GIESTINGSneaker Wars
 
Favorite Movie: 
FEENEY: The Dark Night Rises
GIESTINGGood Will Hunting 


Outside of running what do you enjoy doing?
FEENEY: I really enjoy watching movies in my free time and golfing as well.
GIESTINGStill love to play golf when I can! I love being outside and swinging the club around, even though it takes me a few extra swings than the average golfer.
 
What is something unique about yourself? 
FEENEY: One unique thing about myself is that I have been a Notre Dame fan my whole life. When I was very young my family would come up to South Bend for a few football games every year. I never thought that I would actually attend school at ND, but am so happy I got the opportunity to do just that. 
GIESTINGMy friends and family always give me a hard time because I sometimes fall asleep with my eyes open. They'll take pictures and laugh of course, but occasionally they'll talk to me without knowing I'm sleeping and then later realize I had no idea what they were saying. That's when I get to laugh back at them!
 
 
Favorite Competitor: 
FEENEYMy favorite competitor who has influenced myself to have a winning mentality is Michael Jordan
GIESTINGFellow Indiana native, David Neville. 
 
Person who had the most influence on your athletic career?
FEENEYMy twin brother, Matt (currently at IU Medical School). Growing up we would always play basketball and several other sports against each other and both of us hated losing. I remember being so upset after losing to him and absolutely hated that feeling. I believe that winning mentality has helped me in my athletic and academic career. Without him I do not think I would have been as successful athletically or in the classroom. Watching him excel in school made me push myself harder to get better grades and that same mentality carried over to the track. I knew if I put in the work I would get the results I wanted. I just had to go out there and do it. 
GIESTINGMy older brother Tyler without a doubt. He was 2 years ahead of me in school.  I was not that talented at running coming out of middle school so I wasn't going to run at all, not even cross country. Tyler convinced me to try it  since he would have been a senior and we could be on the same team together. Since that point he has seen the potential in me all the way. He knew I could be great when no one else really saw it. I kid you not, I think he's been to more of my collegiate meets than any other Notre Dame family member or fan. Having that support is what gets you through the tough days to keep grinding and pushing. Without him I wouldn't be running today.
 
If you could have lunch with a person you have never met, who would it be?
FEENEYMichael Johnson, and have a casual conversation about all aspects of track & field.
GIESTINGAndy Dalton (Go Bengals!)
 
How about dinner?
FEENEYMichael Jordan, he is my favorite athlete of all time and would really enjoy hearing about his experiences.
GIESTINGPaul George
 
How did you start running?
FEENEYI first started track in 8th grade. I played baseball the year before, but wasn't really having fun with it anymore, and I was always one of the faster guys on the basketball and football teams so I thought track was perfect since I did not have a spring sport.
GIESTINGI started running for my middle school track team, the St. Louis Cardinals.  
I also played golf in middle school and loved playing. I also thought I could make the varsity team my freshman year playing golf so i chose golf over track that year. I wasn't very good at track in 8th grade, so I figured I had no shot running varsity freshman year. I mean I was running 61 seconds for 400 in 8th grade, which isn't very good. I thought I didn't have a future in track so why continue.  It wasn't until I dropped time in cross country my sophomore year and my older brother, Tim, who was 2 years ahead of me in school, wanting to me to run track with him that made me change my mind about track. Thank goodness for that!
 
When did you first realize you might have some talent and a future in the sport? 
FEENEYMy junior year of high school was my first time running 47 and I got second in the state. At that point I knew I could run Division I somewhere, but did not even think I would ever run a 45 second 400.
GIESTINGDuring my Junior year of high school after the State Meet. I ran 47 for the first time in the 400 I started getting calls from schools around the country. 
 
What were your high school bests for each year:
FEENEY:
Freshmen - 56? I didn't really run the open 400 much
Sophomore - 52? Still didn't run the open 400 much but was splitting 50-51 on the 4x400
Junior - 47.98  
Senior -  47.54

GIESTING:
Freshmen - 19:30 XC, Did not run track but instead played golf!
Sophomore - 1:58.46 (800m), 17:30 (XC)
Junior - 47.69 (400m), 16:48 (XC)
Senior - 46.89 (400m), Did not run XC
 
You attend Notre Dame.  What other schools did you visit?
FEENEY: I talked with Indiana University and Purdue University, but I have always been a die hard Notre Dame fan so if I got in to ND I knew that was going to be my choice. 
GIESTINGMichigan, Purdue and Cornell 
 
Best training partner? 
FEENEY: Chris Giesting by far. My 400m PR when Chris and I started training together was a 47.04 and 5 years later we are still training together and I am at a 45.51.
GIESTINGPat Feeney
 
Was this your first national team?  
FEENEYThe Indoor World Championships in Portland were my first national team, but not my first time running in the US uniform. In 2015, I anchored the winning 4x400 relay team at the Penn Relays for the U.S. with a 44.84s split. 
GIESTINGYes! I've never had the privilege of putting on the USA jersey until now. 
 
What did it feel like the first time you received the huge shipment of Team USA gear?
FEENEYWhen I first received my Team USA gear it was a dream come true. Almost every runner dreams of wearing the US uniform, but most think that it will never happen. Finally, once I was able to wear the uniform I told myself that all the hard work I put in up to this point was 100% worth it. I felt so blessed that the Team USA staff trusted and believed in me to represent our country and was happy to reach a goal I set for myself a long time ago.
GIESTINGWe actually went into team processing immediately following my race at the US championship. I left the track that night with two luggage bags full of gear. It was unreal. I probably looked a little odd wheeling it across the streets of Portland. Then again, it was Portland.  
 
Tell us about competing in Portland in the world championships.
FEENEYIt was such a great experience to be able to represent the US in our home country, but also being able to do that with my training partner Chris. The US is stacked in the 400m so it is very hard for anyone to make the team, but the fact Chris and I both did was unbelievable. When I anchored our 4x400 in the heats at the indoor World Championships it was amazing hearing the home crowd chant "USA,USA,USA" the whole time we were running. It gives you such an adrenaline rush and is one of the coolest experiences I have had in my track and field career. 
GIESTINGIt was amazing to experience my first national team on US soil. We rarely get to hold this caliber of meet at home. Everyone around was really nice and excited to have us in Portland. The only bad part was I was out there for 12 days, and it rained for about 8 of those days. 
 
What are your top three memories from your competitive career? 
FEENEY:
1) Anchoring Team USA at the 2015 Penn Relays for the win.
2) Running the 4x400 at the Indoor World Championships in Portland with my friend, roommate, and training partner Chris Giesting.
3) Running 45 seconds in the 400 for the first time. It was at the Indoor NCAA Championships in 2013 where I placed 4th overall (45.92)

GIESTING:
1) Doing a victory lap with the American flag after taking Gold at the World Championships.
2) Being apart of our National Title Winning DMR my freshman year at Notre Dame.
3) Hugging my mom after winning State my senior year of high school.

What are your athletics goals for 2016 and beyond?
FEENEY: My athletic goals for 2016 are to run a carrer best in the 400m and make the Olympic Team. I haven't really looked past this season yet because I want all my focus to be on this current season. 

GIESTINGTo make the 2016 Olympic Team and to continue to represent USA in the years following at the World Championships.

 
What do you envision doing in 5, 10, 25 years?
FEENEY:  In five years I believe I will be in medical school or possibly residency depending on how long I continue running for. In 25 years, I envision myself as an orthopedic surgeon and helping athletes of all sorts get healthy so they can compete to the best of their ability. 
GIESTINGIn 5 years I hope to be involved in the sport still, but on the business side of things. Maybe working for adidas or USATF. In 10 years I want to be running my own business somewhere, and in 25 years I want to be a well traveled family man that is close to retiring!

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