Graduation can bring relief for an opposing team.
Remember the one athlete for whom there was no answer? The one who, train as you might, you just couldn’t beat?
It’s only logical if some local runners are happy Cary’s Bakri Abushouk won’t be around anymore.
After four years of leaving competitors in the dust – three conference titles in cross country, five more in track, the 2012 state championship in cross country and three more in indoor track – he is now done with high school athletics.
One of the most courteous, friendly and multifaceted athletes in western Wake County is on his way to N.C. State.
His training was unlike his competitors. For cross country, he had to run while fasting for the monthlong Islamic observation of Ramadan.
He ran at 3 a.m. (fasting is during daylight hours only), then again around 7 a.m. while former Cary runner Sheridan Jordan followed on her bike. A light fixed to the handlebars sometimes led Abushouk through the darkness.
Others asked him about his fasting – a lot. And they sometimes tried it for themselves, even if for a day.
“It makes me stronger. It makes me think when I’m racing and I’m done passing I think, ‘I’m the only one who fasted a month for Ramadan, I can beat anybody,’ ” Abushouk said.
If you’ve driven along Chapel Hill Road or Walnut Street, you may have see him running to or from his house and Cary High School.
His running wasn’t like everyone else’s. He wanted to run a lot of miles – eight was too easy – and he wanted to do it fast, which made it hard for coach Jerry Dotson to manage at times.
He had an extra gear for a distance runner and tried to build leads early. His wins were different – his shoe came untied in nearly every big cross-country win he had over three seasons.
And his family has its own unique story.
Abushouk’s family comes from the north African nation of Sudan. Moving here in 2004, he wasn’t used to running. But because of what he learned playing soccer – a sport requiring quick bursts of speed even after running long distances for extended periods – he was tough to handle.
He made running a family thing at Cary, and part of that was literal. Bakri has run with brothers Dean and Mohamed and cousins Robel and Abel Tecle.
He also was proud to be a part of the area’s running-community family. He befriended athletes from other teams, and I sometimes saw him running with some of them to warm up or train at meets.
It seemed the only time he was by himself was when he was out in front.
He was a respected enough runner that the competition gave him the one-name treatment. You need only say “Bakri.” Nobody said “Bakri who?”
But he has graduated now, so it’s natural if opponents were happy to see him go. I just know that’s not the case.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps