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Feature - Cerake Geberkidane - 2013 - DyeStat

Published by
DyeStat.com   Oct 22nd 2013, 2:49am

Geberkidane all by himself in Colorado

By Doug Binder, DyeStat editor




Denver East senior Cerake Geberkidane is eager to show the rest of the country that his amazing fall on Colorado's cross country courses is no fluke.

It's hard to imagine any runner in the country has improved more dramatically than Geberkidane, who has blown away the competition this year with a string of 15:15 or better performances on 5,000-meter courses at mile-high altitude.

The crowning achievement, at least so far, was the 14:46.5 that he clocked on Sept. 20 at the Arvada West Invitational. With his teammates fanned out around the course to shout encouragement, Geberkidane willed himself under 15 minutes. His finish time ranks second only to 1993 Foot Locker champion Adam Goucher in Colorado.

Cerake Geberkidane of Denver East (David L. Wise photo)He even surprised himself that day.

"I was shocked with 80 meters left and I saw the (clock)," Geberkidane said. "I couldn't believe it but I was just sprinting my heart out. I'm just happy to know I'm able to run and compete with people."

That realization – that he can compete at such a high level – is an ongoing process. (Photo at left by David L. Wise)

But first, let's back up. Geberkidane is a Denver native and his parents are from East Africa. His father is Ethiopian and his mother is from Eritrea, and they met each other in Denver.

"My dad introduced soccer and running early in my life," Cerake (pronouced "Sir-Rock") said. "I did both. I stopped running and did soccer for a bit. And now I've come back to the other way and focus on running."

Two years ago, his older brother Ashi led Denver East to a state title in soccer; Cerake was a JV player who sometimes swung up to the varsity bench.

Last year, Ashi Geberkidane, on limited training, won the Colorado Class 5A meet and Cerake was third. Neither made it to a national event. (Ashi was 12th at NXN Southwest).

Ashi is now a freshman on the Harvard soccer team.

Cerake spent the summer getting serious about his training and the results, and depth of his talent, speak for themselves.

"He was an OK soccer player who now realizes he's a talented runner," Denver East coach Steven Kohuth said. "He did have a good summer and was able to put in some really good miles, a lot of fast miles."

Geberkidane attended the Boulder Running Camp and made frequent visits to Green Mountain and a six-mile trail there that he ran three times a week.

Extra work and dedication is paying off.

"He does a lot of this work on his own," Kohuth said. "He's getting good at understanding effort and what you need to do (to run at a high level)."

So far this fall, Geberkidane has raced the clock and been unchallenged.

What will happen when he is tested? It's a potential concern.

"Every race so far he's been by himself," Kohuth said. "It worries us a little bit. When he gets to Nike Southwest and nationals he won't be used to having people near him."

Clayson Shumway, who moved to Utah in the offseason, split up the brothers to keep them from going 1-2 at the Colorado meet last year.

"Obviously he's incredibly talented," Shumway said of Geberkidane. "His brother ran 10 miles a week and kicked my butt at state. I know everyone in Colorado thought it was an upset when I beat (Cerake) but I think he didn't know (yet) how to run a race."

With another year of experience maybe that has changed.

There is no question that his fitness and his willingness to push himself is at a higher level than it was before.

"It was a thing of beauty to watch," Kohuth said of Geberkidane's stunning 14:46. "One of the things that stuck in my mind, though, was that Cerake thanked his teammates for supporting him. Everyone was cheering for him on the third mile and he was digging deep."

At the moment, it is unlikely that the two best high school cross country runners in the U.S. won't face each other this fall.

Blake Haney of Stockdale, Calif., US#1, has stated his intention to try and win the Foot Locker national title.

Geberkidane is planning to push his chips into NXN.

The person that Cerake would most like to have a shot at is his older brother, Ashi.

"He's been really excited for me," Cerake said. "We talk, like, every other night. I told him that I'm way faster than him now."

And this weekend -- in a state that features star power on the girls side with Elise Cranny, Jordyn Colter, Katie Rainsberger and Lauren Gregory -- Geberkidane might be racing the clock yet again.

"I'm going to shoot for first place. Whatever time that may be, I'll be happy," he said.

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1 comment(s)
I just saw that Cerake ran in 4 mile race in Denver this past weekend in 19:27.

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