It is an exciting new year here at Keene State College. The cross country runners are refreshed and are ready to run through the fall season.

One first-year student who stands out at Keene is a bright cross country star all the way from Somalia, Iid Sheikh-Yusuf. Sheikh-Yusuf was able to move here five years ago to connect with his parents who had moved to America prior to Sheikh-Yusuf’s journey to his new home town of Portland, Maine, where he still resides today.

Sheikh-Yusuf has become accustomed to his new surroundings in America. Unlike Maine, the Somali people are very accustomed to high elevations and scorching heat, which gives Sheikh Yusuf the advantage to train and work harder to be the best cross country runner he can be.

“It was very hard at first for me to get accustomed to this country,” Sheikh-Yusuf said.  He continued, “The food, the clothing, how people talked and acted in their culture was very intimidating at first, but people here have been nothing but helpful and kind to help me feel right at home here in America.”

Sheikh-Yusuf also continued to comment on how he was relieved to be living with his parents in America, as it was an advantage for him to learn and adjust to this country quickly and smoothly.

Sheikh-Yusuf said he wanted to achieve his dream of becoming a college athlete as his strength in cross

Photo Editor / Tim Smith

Photo Editor / Tim Smith

country running has always motivated him from the moment he put on his first pair of running shoes. Thankfully, Keene State gave him the opportunity to turn that dream into a reality.

“I want to be the best runner and the best student there is on this campus,” Sheikh-Yusuf said.

Sheikh-Yusuf was certainly not alone when he came to Keene State. Many of his cross country teammates and friends are running by his side to make sure he runs away from the negatives, and sprints towards the positives as a student athlete. Senior on the KSC Cross Country team Mark Rabasco spoke highly of his new teammate.

“[Sheikh]Yusuf is a quiet leader, he is able to get the job done and [is] extremely intellectual at team building and helping others surrounding him on the cross country team to do better,” Rabasco said.

Rabasco continued to say, “He is our top freshman performer; [he] always puts in the most work day in and day out.”

After numerous attempts to contact KSC Cross Country Coach Tom Pickering, he denied comment.

Sheikh-Yusuf is majoring in business management here at KSC and said he hopes to one day own a successful business. Sheikh-Yusuf will still be running free as a cross country star as his biggest goal is to bring home a Division III championship and hoist it over the campus community.

Adam Buskey can be contacted at

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