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Mooseheart senior Oumaru Abdulahi lands after failing in his third attempt to clear 6-8 in the IHSA Class 1A Seneca Sectional. Abdulahi cleared 6-4 and won the event.
Mooseheart senior Sahr Mahoney (left) races to victory in his 200 meters preliminary race at the IHSA Class 1A Seneca Sectional. Mahoney did not compete in the finals of the event in his final meet as a high school athlete.
Mooseheart senior Chris Gustafson runs a leg of Mooseheart's state qualifying 3200-meter relay in the IHSA Class 1A Seneca Sectional
SENECA, IL, May 17, 2013 –Mooseheart's boys track teams have accomplished many things in their long and storied history. There have been state titles and numerous incredible performances against much larger schools.
But according to IHSA records, the school had never won a state sectional meet – until Friday. The Ramblers scored 102 points and outscored second-placed Aurora Christian 102-82 to claim the IHSA Class 1A Seneca Sectional.
And the wait was just a bit longer on Friday thanks to a 90-minute lightning and thunderstorm delay that pushed the end of the meet into the middle of the evening. But when the scores were finally tallied, the Ramblers were victorious – and qualified seven entries for next week's state track meet in Charleston – five individuals and two relays.
“The kids – all of them – did an outstanding job,” Mooseheart coach Curt Schlinkmann said. “I'm just really proud of these guys.”
The team Mooseheart sends to the state meet will be changed from that which qualified at the sectional. Senior Oumaru Abdulahi qualified in the long jump and the high jump – but will not compete in Charleston as the final day of competition is the same as the school's graduation. For Abdulahi, graduation with his 30 classmates takes precedence after spending more than 11 years at Mooseheart.
“To give it your all with the people you've run with since freshman year and who you've known – some of them – since sixth grade, its amazing,” Abdulahi said. “It's an amazing accomplishment and an amazing way to end my high school career, with the people I started it with. I am lucky to have them as my teammates and my friends.”
Mooseheart's team entered the sectional aware that its seniors would not be running in Charleston, but the team competed to its full capacity.
“For the seniors, this was their state meet,” Schlinkmann said. “A couple of them will be going to the prelims at state, but really, this was their thing. They had something they wanted to prove and I hope they proved it today.”
Abdulahi ran his leg of the meet-ending 1600-meter relay knowing someone else would be taking his place at the state meet. His decision to not attempt to win a fourth straight high jump medal was made before the season started. Abdulahi was the 2011 state champion in the event.
“What matters is that you help your brothers, your teammates, out,” Abdulahi said. “You want to get that 'W' and to get to state. That's a cool experience when you get to go to state. Anyone who gets that chance deserves. If I can help out someone in getting to state, then I will.”
As the program moves forward, the selflessness of the seniors who competed in the sectional meet will be felt for years to come.
“I think the younger guys respect that,” Schlinkmann said. “I hope for those guys, the situation doesn't arise where graduation comes at the same time as state – but unfortunately, it often does. I hope the younger guys rememer the sacrifices that were made for them.”
The Ramblers qualified the largest contingent to the state meet in school history. In addition to Abedulahi in the high jump and long jump, junior Wal Khat qualified in the 800 and 1600 meters and junior Brandon Gadson advanced in the 400 meters. Mooseheart's 3200-meter and 1600-meter relays also qualified.
Khat won the 800 meters, was second in the 1600 meters and surged in the final leg of the 1600-meter relay to ensure victory.
(Khat's) been a position many times this year where he hasn't really had any competition with him, Schlinkmann said. “This is good that he was actually challenged and it brought out the best in him.”