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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos courtesy of Kristy Jensen Northrop junior Husam Saleh spent much of his summer visiting his family in North Sudan, where his father still works as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Saleh has a personal best of 17:02 that he hopes to better at this week’s sectional. He was the Bruins’ No. 5 runner Saturday at the SAC meet.

Friday, October 06, 2017 1:00 am

Bruin back from Sudan

Junior missed summer work as he visited family

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Sectionals

Saturday

Culver academies,10:30/11:10 a.m.: Argos, Caston, Culver Academies, Culver Community, Manchester, North Miami, Plymouth, Rochester Community, Tippecanoe Valley, Triton, Warsaw Community.

Elkhart Central at Oxbow Park, 10:30/11:15 a.m.: Bethany Christian, Concord, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Christian Academy, Elkhart Memorial, Fairfield, Goshen, Jimtown, Lakeland Christian Academy, Northridge, NorthWood, Wawasee.

West Noble, 10:30/11:15 a.m.: Angola, Central Noble, Churubusco, DeKalb, East Noble, Eastside, Fremont, Hamilton, Lakeland, Prairie Heights, West Noble, Westview.

Northrop, 10:30/11:15 a.m.: Carroll, Columbia City, Bishop Dwenger, Blackhawk Christian, Concordia, North Side, Northrop, Snider, Garrett, Homestead, Lakewood Park, Leo, Whitko.

Bellmont, 10:30/11:15 a.m.: Adams Central, Bellmont, Bluffton, Bishop Luers, Canterbury, South Side, Wayne, Heritage, New Haven, Norwell, Smith Academy, South Adams, Woodlan.

Marion at Indiana Wesleyan, 10:30/11:15 a.m.: Blackford, Eastbrook, Huntington North, Madison-Grant, Marion, Mississinewa, Northfield, Oak Hill, Southern Wells, Southwood, Wabash.

As the Northrop boys cross country team ran around Fort Wayne, getting in its summer mileage in the Summit City, junior Husam Saleh was across the world, visiting family in North Sudan as he does every few years.

“I was born here but I've been there a couple of times,” he said. “My dad works there now. He works as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“It's a third-world country. The capital (Khartoum) isn't that bad, but where my family's from (Darfur) is pretty bad. They're all like, 'You must be lucky because you're in America.' ”

Saleh was born in the United States along with his twin sister, two younger brothers and another sister with his parents gaining citizenship about 10 years ago.

“My dad, he says when he was little, they used to live on a farm or something in the countryside,” Saleh said, “and they had to flee from Darfur to another city called El Fasher because of the war and stuff.

“They (his parents) were really proud of themselves (when they earned citizenship). Now they can do anything they want, feel free.

“I feel really lucky. It's better education over here, jobs and stuff. Over there, it's hard finding a job and basically, if I'm over here, I can send money over there. The U.S. dollar is 18 Sudanese pounds so it contributes a lot to them.”

Coach Sam Bird describes Saleh as someone who has transitioned from “this very quiet, reserved, didn't really say much of anything about anything to now probably one of the most talkative, involved people on his team.”

Bird believes that the opportunities given to Saleh and his siblings by his parents help Saleh when it comes to overcoming challenges, but he's also just your average American teenager.

“I think it gives him a little bit of drive,” Bird said, “whether it be to come to practice every day, get through the run or get through the workout.

“He's just like any other high school boy. He's going to complain about this or joke around but at the end of the day, even if he doesn't say anything, you can tell he transitions to this more serious, 'I need to get this done,' kind of mentality.”

Saleh started running in middle school and is entering his first postseason as a varsity team member.

“My dad kept telling me, in Africa, when he was younger, he would run all the time,” Saleh said. “I got interested in it in seventh grade. I didn't know what cross country was, but I did football and it wasn't right for me so my friends kept telling me to do cross with them and I was pretty good so I kept going.”

Saleh has a personal best of 17 minutes, 2 seconds that he hopes to better at Saturday's sectional.

He finished as the Bruins' No. 5 runner at the SAC race where the team finished third with 53 points behind Concordia (51) and Snider (52).

“A lot of people always see cross country as an individual sport,” Bird said, “so when it does come down to one point here, one point there, the guys realize it's a team sport and every place counts.

“I think (Saturday) showed that, being the closest SAC result probably in conference history.”

areichel@jg.net