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MJC’s Alsaidi qualifies for 2nd state XC meet
College decision nears for Ripon alumnus, who has eyes on All-America honors
ALUM Abrahim Alsaidi
Modesto Junior College’s Abrahim Alsaidi, a Ripon High alumnus, shows off his championship plaque earned in the Big 8 Conference Championships at Folsom Lake on Oct. 25. - photo by Contributed

Modesto Junior College sophomore Abrahim Alsaidi described his final two years as a high school athlete as a “bumpy ride,” but he has carved out a clearer path to his next destination, wherever that may be.

Although there are big decisions still to be made by the 2021 Ripon High graduate, he has put himself in position to have options that were not available to him two years ago. He is currently preparing for his second appearance in the California Community Colleges Athletic Association State Cross Country Championship, where he hopes to gain All-American status.

Last weekend, he took ninth at NorCals for the second time, finishing in ninth place in 22 minutes, 28 seconds at Rohner Park in Fortuna. On Oct. 25, he won the Big 8 Conference individual title with a time of 20:52.1 on the 4-mile course at Folsom Lake.

He overcame an early-season injury to get to this point. In fact, the Big 8 Conference was his first meet in more than a month after getting slowed by glute weakness.

“I was not trying to force anything, just picking up the pieces and it worked out in the end,” Alsaidi said. “I still feel like my fitness is still not where it was in the late summer and the beginning of the season, but I definitely want to be in the mix with those guys up front.”

At the NorCal race, the goal was simply to advance. Mission accomplished.

“I still wanted to have the confidence to win the race, but I knew it was going to be fairly challenging,” Alsaidi said. “It was a rigorous race, because it was muddy, raining and hilly — it was not a fast course, by any means. A lot of guys went out super conservative, so it was more so about qualifying.  

“I think ninth in the region last year, too, so it was a good sign to have not back tracked. Now, I’m just looking to tear it up at state.”

In last year’s state meet, Alsaidi placed 15th at Woodward Park in Fresno in 20:38.7 — one spot off from a top-14 medal and All-America honors. The top seven make the All-American first team, and the rest make up the second team.

“I have a lot of experience on that course,” Alsaidi said. “I have raced there so many times; I know every corner and every hill, so tactically I know how to attack it and that plays into my favor. I’m also a little fresh after taking some time off.”

Alsaidi never got the chance to compete in the state cross country or track and field meets in high school. Last spring, he qualified for the CCCAA State Championships in the 5,000-meter run, placing 10th in 15:24.68.

He was Big 8 champion in the 10,000 (31:49.41), runner-up in the 1,500 (4:01.31) and third in the 5,000 (15:15.61). At NorCal, he took third in the 5,000 (14:53.95) and sixth in the 10,000 (31:27.90).

Alsaidi won the Trans-Valley League cross country title as a junior and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships for a third time, placing 18th in Division IV. In track, he finished second in the SJS Division IV 3,200 final to qualify for the SJS Masters meet.  

What started out as a promising high school career was beset by injuries and ultimately prematurely ended by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a bumpy ride, especially with COVID happening my junior year,” Alsaidi said. “I didn’t have the best cross country season, and in track I thought I was going to have a little more success. We opened up the season and obviously the quarantine started.”

High school sports returned with abbreviated seasons in the spring of 2021. A quad strain kept him from running cross country, but he was later able to run track.

Ripon competed in the Valley Oak League for the season, and he took second to Oakdale’s Dominic Robles in the 3,200 in the league finale. The two are now teammates at MJC and the school’s top distance runners.

“I came back for track a little bit bulkier from lifting and was out of shape,” Alsaidi said.

At one point, it was his dream to compete at the next level, but his future beyond high school was clouded in uncertainty. Alsaidi could not decide on a major and wasn’t sure if he could commit the time to running cross country and track.  

“I wanted to refocus and find my love for running again,” Alsaidi said. “I talked coach Demitrius Snaer about how he could help me and he really took up the mantle on things. He opened my eyes more to the sport and how structured the training is.

“I didn’t have too many opportunities or any (scholarship) offers while in high school. I had had a good conversation with coach Demitrius and a couple of my good friends, and they were telling me to take the chance and see what happens. I made the ultimate decision to stay home where I can manage my college life. It turned out really well, and I’m glad I took that step forward.”

Alsaidi is studying psychology and kinesiology with an emphasis in sports psychology. He aspires to coach after college.

Which college remains up in the air, as he is in the process of narrowing down his choices of NCAA Division I and II schools. He has a visit planned for Cal State Fullerton this weekend.

“Since I couldn’t race much, I got quite a few visits in,” Alsaidi said. Stanislaus State, Chico State, Nevada and Wingate University are some of the other schools he has been in contact with.

“Hopefully by the end of winter I’ll be making a decision and be stress-free during the spring.”