Burnsville's Ahmed, Hett race to cross-country glory

  • Article by: AARON PAITICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 26, 2013 - 4:37 PM

Burnsville’s Vivian Hett and Ali Ahmed each took first in the South Suburban Conference cross-country meet.

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Burnsville’s Ali Ahmed, left, has won his school’s invitational and the South Suburban Conference meet this year. His work ethic is an example to the Blaze’s younger runners.

Photo: Photo courtesy of Nathan Strand,

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Two senior cross-country runners are showing the metro that the Burnsville Blaze means business.

Burnsville boasts the South Suburban girls’ and boys’ individual conference champions in Vivian Hett and Ali Ahmed.

“It definitely represents us well,” Hett said. “We’re not always at the top, but it’s good to have two wins.”

Hett has played a key role in rebuilding the Burnsville girls’ team. The Blaze won the state meet in 2007, the year before Hett arrived as a seventh-grader. That was a deep squad to replace.

“Hett, and the entire senior class, breathed a lot of new life into the program,” girls’ coach Charlie Burnham said. “Our roster has 15 seniors on it, and the last two seasons we’ve been deeper than ever before. Girls want to be on this team because of the kind of people they are and it’s had a huge impact on our success.”

Hett has had a tremendous season. Two of her races have really stood out for Burnham. One is the Roy Griak Invitational, where she finished ninth.

“Doesn’t sound that great until you realize this is practically a national competition,” Burnham said. “There were over 50 teams in her race and four of the girls that beat her were from out-of-state, some as far away as Colorado and New York. To finish in the top 10 at Griak is almost as good as finishing in the top 10 at the state meet.”

Hett’s other standout meet? The South Suburban meet, which she won Oct. 11.

“Vivian’s no stranger to winning races, but this is one that’s escaped her, and it’s the start of a pretty cool way to wrap up her high school career,” Burnham said.

Race day was windy and Hett stuck with the top group through the first mile. After that, once they reached some more sheltered terrain, the wind was gone and she took off.

“Going into it, I did feel a little nervous and felt a little pressure,” Hett said. “During the race I actually got a bit nervous, too, but after the first mile or so, I was OK.”

 

His two big wins

Ahmed matched Hett’s accomplishment. The senior won the boys’ championship in 16 minutes, 28.1 seconds on the 5,000-meter course. But that wasn’t his most impressive performance of the season, according to Jeff Webber, his coach. His resilience at the Burnsville Invite was something special.

He was behind for most of the race.

“I outkicked the guy when it came down to the last 300,” Ahmed said.

He won by 10 seconds.

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