Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Catching up with Oak Ridge HS runner Amjed Aboukhadijeh...

Today's interview is with one of the runners for one of the most successful teams in the SJS (Oak Ridge HS), Amjed Aboukhadijeh (pictured to the left courtesy of dyestatcal and Joe Hartman). In the latest rankings on, Oak Ridge HS is ranked #9 in Division II with Amjed leading the way. He recorded personal records of 9:34 and 4:26 last year as a sophomore on the track.

1) How did you get your start in cross country and track and field?
Since a young age I have always enjoyed sports. In the eighth grade I had a plan to play as many sports as possible; including cross country, track, basketball and volleyball. I ran cross country to stay in shape for the basketball season and much to my surprise I ran extremely well and was league champion. During track of my eighth grade year I ran in basketball shoes, yet was able to break the middle school league record in the mile, with a time of 4:58.

2) What other sports do you or have you played?
I have played many sports, both recreational and competitive. The sports range from volleyball to basketball. I have enjoyed playing competitive basketball since the third grade and basketball has always been my passion. In my sophomore year of high school I made a difficult decision and committed to running both cross country and track and hung up my basketball shoes.

3) Tell us a little about your summer training.
I came into the summer with high hopes of achieving all of my seasonal goals. After speaking with both my coaches, Rob Fairly and John Mansoor, we devised a running program that would allow me to meet my goals. I ran an average of 45 to 50 miles a week, allowing for one to two days rest per month. Mainly I focused on running base mileage and allowed myself room for improvement.

4) How is the boys' team looking so far?
Right now our varsity boy’s team is doing very well and is shaping up to be the best team in our school’s history. During my freshman year the team placed 6th in state, the highest place achieved by Oak Ridge. The entire squad is looking to defeat that finish while trying to set the bar one notch higher. We are a young team with 5 in our top 7 returning next year. I must add that our 2 senior captains are doing a great job of leading the team this year too.

5) Who is going to be the competition for your team in your league? section? 
The most competition that we will be having in our league this year will be Galt or Christian Brothers who we defeated by approximately 40 points in our first SVC league meet. Our biggest section challenge to contend with will be the ever-famous powerhouse Jesuit High School. In addition to Jesuit, teams such as Rocklin, Del Campo and Woodcreek are all good teams with some strong front runners that lead their squads.

6) Oak Ridge has had some outstanding runners the past few years including Jeff Campbell, Scott Crawford and Alex Kosinski. Do you think having those runners on the team helped elevate the bar for the rest of the Oak Ridge runners? 
Yes. Having these amazing runners at Oak Ridge have definitely inspired our team to strive for the best. We understand that Oak Ridge has a rich history in sports excellence and we are just trying to be part of the school’s legacy.

7) Can you tell us a little about coach Fairley? What has he done to make Oak Ridge so successful in terms of training and motivation?
Coach Fairley is terrific! Both he and assistant coach, John Mansoor, have been working hard to get as many people interested in the sport as possible. We have just fewer than 60 athletes on our team this year, which allows for quite some depth. Coach Fairley does a fantastic job of providing vigor, enthusiasm, and motivation to the sport. He does a great job of keeping the team in order and focused on the season at hand. The team owes much of its success to the coaching staff and we wouldn’t have come this far without  their support and guidance.

8) What does a typical week look like for you training wise?
Training varies depending on our schedule, but for the most part, it consists of 2 quality speed workouts, a long run, 3 recovery days and a race each week.

9) Throughout your time in high school, can you single out a few runners you have looked up to (on your team, other teams or professional runners).
There have been a couple of runners at Oak Ridge that have inspired me, Ryan Cosens (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) and Scott Crawford (UCLA). Being ORHS alumni, they have had the opportunity to return to El Dorado Hills and train with the team over the summer. Over the past summer I had the opportunity to become close friends with the two and appreciate their advice and encouragement. Adam Kelley-Strong of Jesuit High School, one of my biggest rivals and closest friends, brings out the best in me when I race because of the competitive spirit he brings to the field.

10) What are your goals for this season?
Individually I would like to win the sectional meet and finish top 10 in state. As a team I would like us to finish top 3 in the state for Division 2 and see our coach get on the podium.

11) Any race or races you are really looking forward to this season?
The Stanford Invitational should be a fun meet because not only does it allow me to compete with some of the best runners from around the country, but it also gives me a chance to visit with my brother, Feross, who is studying at Stanford University. In addition to the Stanford Invitational I am looking to challenging myself with the “best-of-the-best” at the State Meet.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Thank you so much for the interview. My aspiration is to represent the SJS to the best of my ability at every meet.

Thank you very much for your time Amjed! AJC

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