Ahmed Muhumed found a way to keep winning after he finished racing for the season.
West Salem High School’s junior superstar was awarded the Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year for Oregon on Friday.
“It is amazing,” Muhumed said. “I feel really, really amazed by the people who have helped me to get here. I don’t even know any other feeling that compares to the feeling that I got this morning when I first heard of it.
“I actually wasn’t expecting it, to be honest. I know there are all these other great athletes who actually deserve the same that I did. This morning when I received it, I broke down into tears. It was amazing.”
Muhumed won the OSAA Class 6A state championship this fall, completing the 5,000-meter distance in 15:38 to become the first state champion in cross country in the school’s history.
Muhumed was far from finished running after his high school season was completed, and those postseason races gave his profile a push.
He placed fourth in the Nike Cross Nationals Northwest Regional championships in 15:36.8, third in the Nike BorderClash 17 in 15:39 and was 40th at the Nike Cross Nationals in 15:44.30.
So he could compete in the postseason races, the families of teammates Hunter Mosman and Logan Devilbiss took him to Idaho and Portland to compete against the best runners in the nation.
It wasn’t coincidence that Mosman was one of the first people he met when he came to West Salem in the middle of his freshman year.
“He was my training partner, I could say. He’s helped me so much with a lot of things,” Muhumed said. “(Teammate) Hunter Schiess was a phenomenal guy. He’s a great guy and he pushes me and the other guys as well … all the varsity guys such as Brennen Le Bel, Fabian Elizondo, who is a very great guy and has pushed us so much, and Logan Devilbiss was one of those guys that has improved so much from last year to this year.
“I’m really blessed with people around me who want to help me achieve all the things that I want to do in life. Without them, none of it would be possible.”
Muhumed is the second athlete from West Salem to win a Gatorade athlete of the year honor.
The other was Brett Smith, who was selected as football player of the year in 2010.
“The fact that I’m a junior and I have another chance to do it again and maybe get a national one, it tells me if I’ve won now, it tells me with more work, more hard work and more focus, I can do better and get better,” said Muhumed, who won his second consecutive Greater Valley Conference championship this fall.
“I really appreciate Gatorade and all the people that have gathered this stuff to recognize my work and other people’s works as well.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler