Winning races just a small part of Kabia’s life story

Teammates and coaches see the junior as more than just a world class sprinter.

On the track, Ibrahim Kabia is known for being one of the best sprinters in the history of the University.

However, teammates and coaches will say that there is more to the 2007 NCAA indoor track All-American than sprinting.

Ibrahim, or Ibes as teammates and coaches affectionately call him, competes in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 4×100-meter relay during outdoor season. In the winter, he competes indoors in the 60-meter dash as well as the 200.

In addition to his success in those events, Kabia brings a leadership quality to the Gophers track program that coach Phil Lundin holds in high regard.

Lundin called Kabia a “quiet leader” who chooses to lead by example.

“I’m not the type of guy that is going to get on somebody for doing something,” Kabia said. “I have to lead by example if I want them to work hard.”

However quiet, that leadership does not go unnoticed.

Lundin said that 2008 team captain Kabia is “essential” to the team, adding Kabia is “like another coach” because he takes a vested interest in the success of his teammates.

At last Saturday’s Oregon Pepsi Team Invitational in Eugene, Ore., Kabia upped his personal best, winning the 100 with a time of 10.39 seconds.

At the 2007 NCAA Indoor National Championships, Kabia ran a school record 60-meter time of 6.63 seconds. The time earned him a fifth-place finish and All-America honors.

2008’s indoor season saw Kabia battling knee, foot and hamstring injuries. He remained resilient, and, on limited practice schedule, still qualified for the National Championships.

Kabia impressed both himself and teammates at nationals, running a 6.69 60-meter dash. He especially impressed 4×100 teammate Jason Erickson.

“(Kabia) isn’t afraid to test it out,” Erickson said, referring to a healed injury. “He always comes back and runs great races.”

Kabia moved to Minnesota during his freshman year of high school from Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa.

Kabia was introduced to track in his freshman year at Champlin Park High School in Brooklyn Center. He said he wanted to meet people, and because he had only played soccer in Sierra Leone, decided to go out for track.

After quitting track near the end of his freshman year, he surprised coaches by finishing eighth in the state in the 100 his sophomore year.

He attributes his current success to Champlin Park coaches Jim Rosekranz and Joel Ward, who encouraged him to pursue track more seriously after his surprise sophomore season.

And with increased training and tutelage, he won state championships in the 100 in his junior and senior seasons at Champlin Park.

Kabia calls himself a “team guy,” but would still love to succeed as an individual this year.

“I think he is going to be one of the best sprinters in the United States collegiately,” Lundin said.

Amidst great success and greater expectations, Kabia remains humble and cites his parents’ “100 percent support” as motivation.

“I don’t know of anyone on the team that doesn’t like him,” Erickson concluded. “He’s a great guy.”