Aidan Reed Competes on Team USA in Kampala, Uganda at IAAF
By SUU Strategic Communication
Photo Courtesy of Paul Merca/USATF
CEDAR CITY, Utah - A freshman having an immediate impact on a program is a major accomplishment. A freshman having an impact on the world stage, that is something incredibly special.
Thunderbird freshman Aidan Reed did just that. Putting on a Team USA uniform and competing for his country. This journey culminated in Kampala, Uganda, where he ran in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Reed came to Southern Utah University from Helena, Montana, where he attended Helena High School.
“He could compete,” SUU head coach Eric Houle said when asked why the T-Birds went after Reed. “He was one of the top distance runners in the state of Montana and came from a very good high school. You can put good times down, but can you compete when it matters, that is what's really important.”
Reed's journey with Team USA started in Bend, Oregon. Reed competed at the USATF XC Championships where he finished in fifth place to earn the right to compete for the United States.
That finish gave Reed the opportunity to run in both the 2017 NACAC Cross Country Championships in Boca Raton, Florida, and the IAAF World Championships in Africa. At that meet was the first time Reed put on the USA jersey.
“As I think anyone would imagine, it's an immense honor and there's a lot of pride involved,” Reed said. “It's also a great responsibility, representing so much. I felt both internal and external pressure to represent well and execute at the level I knew I could.”
Reed said the race itself was a fantastic experience.
“Emotionally, I was really pleased,” Reed said. “We have a super long streak of the junior men's team winning, so we wanted to keep that going and we were really pleased to do that. Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico put up a good fight, but we knew that if we did our jobs we'd walk away with a medal.”
Reed was adopted from Ethiopia to the United States, and returned to Africa as a member of the United States cross country team to compete in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. He said that even the fan support at the NCAA National Championships did not compare to what there was when the entire world was on display.
“It was eye-opening,” Reed said. “Kampala, where we were in the city was more affluent and catered to a more Western demographic. So we didn't see crushing poverty until we drove out of the city to fly out, but that was definitely the grim, dilapidated part of Africa that you might expect. But beyond that, the atmosphere was just unparalleled. The Ugandans came out in mass; I would liken it to the Super Bowl or the World Cup. It was that level of intense, nationalistic pride. I had never seen that level of excitement for cross country.”
Houle said he has been immensely impressed by how he's seen Reed grow since he first set foot on SUU's campus.
“Coming into this program is a lot different, not only because it's a step up from the high school ranks, but it's a very different approach to training,” he said. “To adjust to that is really difficult, and he's going through some of those growing pains right now. But to be able to weather that and be the first athlete from SUU to make the USA team and then compete well at the world level is great. We'll see the benefit of that down the road.”
Reed's teammate Kasey Knevelbaard said Reed is an inspiration to the rest of the team.
“Aidan is a great guy, I thoroughly enjoy practicing with him,” he said. “He is the most driven person I know. He's always doing everything he can to get better. He's always going the extra mile.”
Fellow teammate Josh Collins echoed several of the same thoughts Knevelbaard had.
“He does everything right,” he said. “He eats right, he sleeps right, he's a very scheduled person and gets stuff done when he's supposed to.”
At the end of it all, Reed said this will be an experience that has the potential to shape his future.
“It was illuminating because being able to spend time around the senior athletes and interact with them in a casual environment, I was able to see what that next level is like and what I can expect if—and/or when—I'm able to break onto that level,” he said. “The whole experience was invaluable.”
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