Checking In With Gemechu Meskele

(Photo provided by Gemechu Meskele)

First of all, how did you first start running?

I was convinced to try track by my English teacher in 9th grade. I was new to the country and school, and my teacher thought it would great idea if I go out for track and make new friends. My mom always wanted me to be a runner when I was back in Ethiopia, but I was too focused on soccer.

What are all your personal records, including cross country?

400: 54

800: 1:58

1600: 4:17

3200: 9:23

5k cc: 15:43
Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?
I played soccer until I moved to America. Soccer was big part of my life growing up and I never thought I would give up soccer for running. But going out for cross country my sophomore year changed everything; it made me realize that I am a better runner than soccer player. I still play soccer for fun in the off season.

What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?
My favorite and most memorable competition I have competed in was State 4x800 last year. It was great experience to be part of that squad and setting a new school record in 7:46.

Other than your own teammates, who are some of your favorite athletes to compete against?
I enjoy racing against the Edina boys. Not just racing, but I like hanging out with them outside of the sport and joke around about some races we had together. They are really cool guys.  

(Photo provided by Gemechu Meskele)

I know running is huge in Ethiopia. Is there any possible way to compare it to running in Minnesota, or is there no comparison between the two running cultures?

I guess one difference I noticed is that young athletes here get the opportunity to start running track and cross country in middle school or high school and even though running is a big deal in Ethiopia, most schools don't have running teams and most Ethiopian runners start running after high school or sometimes even after college.     

When you first moved to the United States, what were some of the big adjustments you had to make? Also, what surprised you (either pleasantly or unpleasantly) about American culture?

When I first moved to the United States, one of the biggest adjustments I had to make was the weather. I moved here in November and it was really cold. In Ethiopia where i lived it doesn't get colder than 60 or 55 degrees. One thing I was surprised about the American culture is that people don't really care about the FIFA World Cup even though U.S. qualifies.

Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career?
People that have been most helpful to me in my athletic career are my family and my coaches. My coaches have helping me not just in my athletic career but outside running too. They have been there for me if I needed help in my everyday life and school.   

What are your main goals for this upcoming track season?
I have big goals going into the season. My main goals are to help out the team as much as I can to win another state title as a team and also get that True Team 5-peat. Time wise, I want to go under 9:10 in the 3200. Also it would really cool if I ran a 4:10 1600 to say I PRed by a minute from freshman to senior year. My PR was 5:10 my freshman year.   

(Photo provided by Gemechu Meskele)

What comments or reflections do you have about your high school cross country career now that it is over?

It was a really great experience to be a part of a successful team and running for coach Bill Miles my sophomore year and coach Mark Popp my junior and senior year. It was cool experience going out Portland for Nike cross nationals my junior and senior year and also making it to the state meet twice. It was a dream come true winning a State title as a team my senior year.                                                          

Do you have any college plans?
I'll be attending to Iowa Central Community College to continue my academic and athletic career.

What were some of the things that you liked about Iowa Central as your college choice?

I liked how it's not very far from home and also I liked the coaches and the guys in the team. It's very diverse team; most of the guys are from different countries. I'm very excited for next year to what I can do in the college level.  

When not running miles or running on ovals, what might we find you doing?
When I'm not running, you'll find me hanging out with friends or playing video games at home.  

Do you have any rituals, routines, or superstitions either on or off the track?
I used to wear the same pair of socks on every single track meet last track season, but I lost one sock. I actually set all my PRs with those socks and I am still looking for it. I hope I find it before my next big race. 

How did that particular pair of socks become your lucky pair?
This pair of socks became my lucky pair after dropping 25 second PR in the 3200 and ran another PR week later in the 800 then I kept wearing them to every meet.   

Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.

I can eat any spicy food and I ate my first spicy food when i was one year and half.