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State title part of Izaiah Steury's long journey

November 11, 2020

 

Behind Izaiah Steury’s run to the 2020 IHSAA Boys Cross Country State Championship, there’s a lot of mileage that accompanies the feat.

The Angola junior crossed the finish line first on October 31 with a time of 15:23.7 at LaVerne Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute. Izaiah is the first Hornet to win the individual state title.

“I really accomplished what goal we had and planned,” he tells ParkviewSportsMedicine.com. “Anyone could have won it, and I definitely worked hard for that reason. We came out on top, which was really exciting.”

Not bad for a young man who started running in middle school, after coming to the United States seven years ago.

At this point, Izaiah’s story has been well-documented. From his birth in Ethiopia, to his time shepherding goats as a child, to his adoption by the Steury family, to his arrival in Angola in 2013. And now his state championship this season.

“Seven years ago, no one really thought I would be in the town of Angola. I could have gone anywhere in the world, anywhere in the United States. But I came here. It’s very different to the lifestyle that I lived there.”

Izaiah worked hard through the struggles of coming to a new country, learning the language, and becoming an American teenager. Izaiah tried various sports, but found a joy in running.

“It’s been quite the journey for him,” Angola boys cross country coach Brad Peterson says. “Starting off in Ethiopia, and getting over here. And the journey from the quarantine during track, just as he was running very well. We had all these goals, and we thought maybe a state championship in track in the 3200.”

AngolaXC
Izaiah Steury, far right, helped Angola boys cross country to the NECC Super Duals championship
and a trip to the regionals. 

 

While Izaiah missed out on his sophomore track season, he and his teammates remained hopeful for a cross country season this fall. The Hornets pounded the pavement, training 60 to 70 miles per week.  When the season went ahead as scheduled, the summer of hard work proved pivotal for Angola boys cross country, which won the Northeast Corner Conference Super Duals and advanced as a team to regionals.

Izaiah led the way: winning every race he ran, lowering his personal best 5K time to 14:51 and becoming one of the fastest cross country runners in the nation.

“He’s definitely been the difference maker in our program,” Peterson adds. “He sets the example for everyone else. Without him, the program would not have turned the program like it has.”

And Steuben County has taken note. Hundreds of people lined the streets for Izaiah’s Around The Mound ceremony, which has come to serve as icing on the cake for champions from Angola High School.

In what is thought to be a first, Izaiah ran four laps around The Mound with the sounds of an emergency vehicle escort, “We Are The Champions” by Queen and the cheers of the community.

“It’s very special to me. It shows that they really care,” Izaiah adds. “This community is something I want to be representing, no matter where I go. I’m just excited that they’re actually a part of it, and that I can be apart of their community.”

Cross country season is not over for Izaiah. While many of the national cross country meets have been canceled this fall, Izaiah will travel to the RunningLane National Cross Country Championships scheduled for November 21 in Huntsville, Alabama. He will face tough competition from across the country, and hopes to lower his race pace under 4:40 per mile.

In track, Izaiah competes in the mile and 2-mile races. His 8:57 for the 3200 (2 mile) is 9 seconds off the state record; and. He has every intention of lowering his personal best 4:12 mile time.

Beyond that, look for Izaiah to be at the front of the pack for his senior season next year; and deciding where he will run in college. Izaiah already has interest from several NCAA Power 5 conference schools, he says.

Angola is one of 26 high schools that partners with Parkview Sports Medicine for athletic training, sports performance, nutrition, athletic rehab and other sports medicine services for Hornet student-athletes. Learn more at www.parkviewsportsmedicine.com.

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