Freshman distance runner represents Minnesota on USA national team

Khalid Hussein raced in Denmark on Sunday, March 30th.

by Babatunde Jinadu

Khalid Hussein, a freshman on the Gophers men’s track and field team, recently represented the United States at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Denmark.

“It was a cool experience, seeing how they treat the competition and how they prepare. Not just the day of, or the day before, but three or four days before, how they eat and train,” Hussein said. “It was a great feeling because I don’t know when’s the next time I’ll be able to rep the United States on my jersey. That’s not a opportunity that many people get at all, so I cherish it, and it’s something I’m going to look back on for the rest of my life.”

Hussein placed 86th out of 102 in the U20 field while battling injury. He was one of six Americans in the race. 

Hussein earned the opportunity to run on the world stage after finishing in fifth place at the USATF Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee, Florida. 

A Plymouth, Minnesota native, Hussein had an impressive career before joining the Gophers. He won the individual state championship three times and the team state championship four times. 

These accomplishments gave him quite the reputation among his teammates.

“He’s got a lot of talent. It’s kind of cool to be around a guy who I was always trying to look ahead to in high school,” said freshman runner Declan Dahlberg. “It’s cool to not only be his roommate, but to be aiming to be up there with him in practice too.

“He was always kind of on another level than everybody else,” Dahlberg said. “He was always the guy that everybody was kind of afraid of, just from a young age [he was] kind of better than everybody.”

Dahlberg is excited to see his teammate’s talent continue to develop in upcoming years. He said that he believes Hussein has the potential to someday follow in the footsteps of senior Obsa Ali, a 2018 NCAA national champion for the Gophers.

Minnesota head coach Steve Plasencia will largely be responsible for guiding Hussein’s development during his time with the Gophers. Plasencia served as the senior men’s team coach for Team USATF during Hussein’s trip to Denmark. 

It wasn’t the first time that Plasencia held the position, as he served as the Team USATF junior men’s team coach in 2017. Similarly, Hussein is not the first Minnesota runner to compete on behalf of Team USA.

Among others, junior Hamza Ali competed at the 2017 IAAF Junior World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda.

Ali said that he considers Hussein to be like a “little brother” to him.

“He’s an extremely talented runner, and being able to keep up for that long takes a lot of work. He brings a fun and constructive attitude to the team, which brings everyone around him up,” Ali said. “I’m really looking forward to what he has in store in the future. … I see a lot of success [for him].”