Mubarik Musa almost missed the gun.
With the other competitors in their lanes and preparing for the start of Thursday’s 1,600-meter run, Musa wasn’t on the track.
Instead, he was running across the football field, trying to make the beginning of the race.
For other runners, the pre-race run may have hindered their performance.
From the start of the race during the Cardinal Relays in Luverne, Musa’s only competition was himself.
Starting on the inside lane, Musa was already out in front after the first turn — ahead of the runners in the outside lanes.
From then, Musa knew he had a victory.
“From the beginning; I knew I had it before I even started the race,” Musa said. “The question for me was would I get a better time that I wanted — usually somewhere around 4:30 or 4:25. That was the time that I wanted, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully, it’ll happen at the end of the season.”
A freshman, Musa recently moved to Luverne from Brooklyn Park.
The Cardinals couldn’t be happier.
“I moved here I think three weeks ago,” Musa said. “I immediately joined the track team.”
Musa is no stranger to tough competition.
Running for Park Center, Musa finished eighth at the state cross county meet Nov. 1 by running a 15:55.4 that day.
The next freshman in the meet was Josh Thorson.
He finished 32nd.
Thursday, Musa finished his mile with a 4:38.37.
“It was kind of average,” Musa said. “It wasn’t too good or too bad, it’s usually what I run. It is early-season, so hopefully my time will drop soon.”
Of course, Musa had two factors working against him Thursday.
“It was a little chilly, and there was no competition,” Musa said. “There was no one pushing me. All of this contributes to some point.”
Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth/Edgerton’s Halden Van Wyhe finished second with a time of 5:02.
Musa ran around a 2:19 in his first 800, but had a poor third lap.
“The third lap, my coach told me, was a little too slow,” Musa said. “But it was all right. This is the first time at an outdoor mile this season, too. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I’ll get somewhere around 4:20 or lower 20s. We’ll see what happens.”
If Musa makes his goal, he could place at the state meet.
Last year, Winona Cotter’s Donny Wasinger set a new Class A record with a time of 4:15.20.
If Musa hits his mark of 4:20, he would have finished fourth last season.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s Ryan Tholen won the Section 3A meet last year with a time of 4:34.30, and could be Musa’s toughest competition this season.
“I’m from AA, so A isn’t that much people and it’s not that much competition,” Musa said. “Still, I have to keep pushing in case something happens at the end.”
If a 1,600-meter victory wasn’t enough Thursday, Musa claimed a victory in the 800. Finishing with a 2:04.36, he beat Worthington’s OJ Ojullu by more than two seconds.
While Musa wasn’t pushed during Thursday’s mile, that doesn’t mean he won’t stop pushing himself — even against smaller schools than he’s used to.
“My concern was that I probably wouldn’t have the competition that AA has, but I still keep telling myself, ‘No matter what, I keep pushing the pace,’” Musa said. “I just need to push myself. That’s the kind of motivation I have.”