Coming into the season, first-year Lewiston indoor track coach Steve Virgilio knew Shukri Deqow would be one of the best freshmen in the state at her events.

Deqow blew past those expectations and instead was one of the best girls at any grade in the 55-meter dash, the triple jump and, her best event, the 55-meter hurdles. 

Lewiston’s Shukri Deqow runs the 55-meter hurdles during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference indoor track meet at Bowdoin College in Brunswick in February. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Deqow won a pair of conference titles, pushed the state’s best hurdler more than anyone ever had at the Class A state meet, and even got a taste of the New England championships in her first indoor season. She ran, hurdled and jumped her way to the title of 2019-20 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. 

“I know that she had finished second in the state meet at the youth level in the hurdles, and had also done pretty well in the 200,” Virgilio said. “When we got her to practice, kind of slow progression.” 

“It wasn’t apparent from day one, but kind of became a little bit more and more apparent each day,” he added. 

Deqow didn’t show Virgilio record-breaking ability at the beginning of the season, but the first glimpse of her speed came one day in practice when she ran a stride ahead of sophomore teammate Amelia Wedderburn, who was an indoor 55 dash and outdoor 100-meter dash state finalist as a freshman last year. 

“The whole team, in sort of an excited and encouraging way, just kind of cheered (Shukri) all together. Like, ‘Wow, she’s running just as fast as Amelia,'” Virgilio said. “So that was kind of a point right there where we knew, or when I definitely knew, that she was going to do something big, or could do something big.” 

The meet season showed Deqow’s “exponential” progression, as Virgilio called it. Her first hurdles time of the season was just over 10 seconds. Then she ran a 9.44, then a 9.26, then a 9.02, which put her second in the conference behind Edward Little’s Julia Berube, who was ranked second in the state behind Scarborough’s Emily Labbe, who will be going to University of Maine on a scholarship. 

Lewiston’s Shukri Deqow runs the 55-meter dash during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference indoor track meet at Bowdoin College in Brunswick in February. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Virgilio said he was confident that Deqow could run with Berube at the KVAC championship, and thought something special could happen, but the 8.65-second winning time she ran in the finals (after running 8.93 in the prelims) surprised even him. 

The mark broke the state’s all-time freshman record in the event. 

But Deqow wasn’t done setting personal records, which was her goal going into every meet. 

Getting a chance to run against Labbe, Deqow hurdled her way into the limelight. too. An 8.79-second run in the prelims was good enough for second behind Labbe and qualified for the finals, where she ran a blistering 8.43 (an obvious PR even before she saw her time), second only to Labbe’s personal-best 8.32. Labbe’s mark is the second-fastest time in state history, while Deqow’s was tied for fifth-fastest. 

“The cool thing was is, after four years of Labbe dominating the hurdles, and winning four years, I think, in a row, it took Shukri to have her run her fastest time,” Virgilio said. “So I bet Labbe was kind of excited about that, someone finally ran on her shoulder, pushed her to a faster time. So at that point it’s like, ‘All right, now we know this girl is special.'” 

Deqow, who is modest and humble about her accomplishments to the point that she isn’t comfortable talking about them, was also the fastest in the 55-meter dash at the KVAC championship meet, barely beating Wedderburn with a time of 7.51 (to her teammate’s 7.52). Deqow was second in the triple jump, with her best leap of 34 feet, 5.5 inches a half-inch behind first place.

“Obviously, she’s a natural athlete, but some of the things that she can do, and just the jumping motions, are very impressive,” Virgilio said. 

Deqow bettered her marks in both events at the state championship, dropping down to 7.49 seconds in the 55 dash (fifth place) and improving to 34-8.75 in the triple jump (fourth place). 

At New Englands, Deqow placed 19th out of 32 competitors in the dash and 18th out of 28 in the hurdles. A new environment where pre-race warmups are difficult made it “probably the toughest meet for of the season,” Virgilio said. 

“I think that kind of offered her an experience that was important for her future and her development, to realize that you can’t get a personal record every single time you compete,” he added. “She was still excited about the level she was at, and wanted to be there, and I think it hopefully just motivated her for the future to be able to continue to go where she’s going.” 

Lewiston’s Shukri Deqow, left, and Amelia Wedderburn run the 55-meter dash during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference track meet at Bowdoin College in Brunswick in February. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo


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