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Running for the sake of it

Jordan Willi/Daily Globe Ammanuel Fissiha runs during a warm-up session at the soccer fields outside the Worthington YMCA.

WORTHINGTON -- For some people, running is something they do to exercise and stay healthy. But for others, like Worthington's Ammanuel Fissiha, running is much more than that.

"I actually used to like soccer, but then I did seventh grade track," Fissiha, 14, said. "Then my friend Mubarik Musa told me I was better at running than I was at soccer."

Fissiha didn't believe he was a better runner at the time, but Musa kept pushing him to give running a chance.

"One day, Mubarik said I should go run the lake with him," Fissiha said. "And I finished it the first day. That's when I started liking it. Then I started liking it more the more I ran. I joined cross-country then too."

One of the other reasons Fissiha quit playing soccer to focus on running was because he felt team sports didn't allow for as many opportunities to play and prove yourself.

"Running has a lot of opportunities rather than soccer or some other sports," Fissiha said. "In running you just run all the time and the meets and stuff you don't miss. Were as soccer a lot of people are on the benches and don't get to play that much."

Musa's advice has proven to be true with Fissiha being selected to participate in the mile run at the 2012 North American Finals in Hershey, Pa. in August.

"I was just looking at the YMCA site and I knew that I wanted to do it," Fissiha said. "When I came here, C.J. Nelson told me I should do it."

Once Fissiha was signed up for the first meet in Worthington, he started to train by running both at the Y and around the lake.

"How it works is he ran the meets here in Worthington, where he won the 800-meter and the mile," Nelson said. "Then he won the 800 and the mile at the state meet.

"They then take the winnings times and compare them with eight states and Ontario. And the winning times out of those gets to go to nationals. Each state must have least five participants to go."

Fissiha tries to run 40-45 miles a week as part of his workout and preparation for the Hershey Games. He also runs speed workouts to help condition himself for the mile.

"I just run around the lake or at the track at the high school," Fissiha said. "I usually just think while I am running. It is just fun for me. At first it was hard to get into it, but now it is really easy. I just think about getting that guy in front of me."

This fall, Fissiha will be going into ninth grade and said he will be going out for both track and cross-country.

"For ninth grade, I am just looking at improving my times from eighth grade," Fissiha said. "And maybe in tenth grade I will look at trying to make state."

Fissiha has enjoyed being on the track and cross-country teams since he joined in seventh grade. He feels like he has grown closer to all his teammates and that they have all helped to make him a better runner.

"The people that are running, especially cross-country, are really friendly, so I enjoy that," Fissiha said. "They are like family now."

Fissiha will be arriving in Hershey on Aug. 2 where he will get the opportunity to meet other participants from around the country while he stays at Elizabethtown College. He will compete in the mile run on the fourth of August at Henry Hershey Field.

The four representatives from Minnesota who will be participating in the Hershey's Track and Field Games along with Fissiha are Michael Suda and Abigail Hollingsworth (11-12 year-old boys/girls softball throw) of Pipestone, Emily Covert (11-12 year-old girls 800-meter) of Minneapolis and Tyl Woelber (13-14 year-old boys softball throw) also of Pipestone.

Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi

may be reached at 376-7335