LEWISTON — Farhiyo Aden’s timid demeanor easily conceals her ferocity when she is on foot during a cross country race.

When the starter’s gun sounds, the Lewiston High School junior sheds her shell of shyness and bolts across a 3.1-mile course with an ardent desire to be the first to cross the finish line. Competitors shouldn’t be deceived by Aden’s soft-spoken nature and diminutive appearance.

She’s in it to win, and her motivation explains why she will be competing in the 79th New England cross country championship meet Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H. The girls’ race starts at 11:30 a.m., followed by the boys’ race at 12:30 p.m.

“She’s vicious on the track,” Lewiston cross country coach T.J. Niles said. “She is still learning a lot. She’s learning how to pace and learning to kick.”

Niles believes Aden is the first female Lewiston cross country runner to qualify for New Englands.

Finishing in 11th place in the state championships last weekend at Twin Brook in Cumberland is quite a tribute to Aden, who began her running career as a sophomore in indoor track. She competes in all three seasons and continues to improve each race.

Her time of 20:21.97 in the state Class A girls’ competition qualified her for the New England competition.

Aden isn’t sure why her thoughts suddenly turned to long-distance running.

“Honestly, I don’t know, but I just love running,” Aden said. “The longer the distance, the better I run.”

Indeed.

During the regional competition, Aden learned a tough, unforgettable lesson. She applied that eye-opening experience during the state meet at Twin Brook.

“I thought at regionals she had a chance to win,” Niles said. “That was her first experience she had running that hard at the get-go.

“At regionals, she was with the top two Brunswick girls through two miles. Sometime after two miles, she basically died. I knew that experience would basically help her at states.”

And that explains why Aden will make an appearance in New Englands.

“I hope I do great,” Aden said. “(I) just set a goal and focus on that.”

Being a track star also keeps Aden focused in the classroom. She understands good grades will help her stay on course in track.

“It comes from motivation,” Aden said. “A lot of people motivated me, especially my teammates and friends.”

Her impressive exploits in her first cross country season has made Aden the No. 1 runner on the girls’ team at Lewiston.

“She works hard,” Niles said. “She’s very laid back so she doesn’t stress out about her times. She just tries her best. That’s important.

“She’s a good kid. I couldn’t say anything bad about her.”

Niles isn’t sure how his Lewiston squad will perform at Derryfield, but he is hoping his runners surprise themselves.

“I am just shooting for PR for everybody on the team, really,” Niles said. “Maine is not as deep as a lot of states that will be there.

“Of course, I just wish she started sooner, but I say that about everybody.”

Aden has proven it is never too late to follow a dream and set a goal.


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