As the only senior on Auburn’s cross country team in 2015, Redatu Semeon is the leader by default.
Despite being the natural choice for team leader, “Red” wants to lead with his legs, not with his mouth.
“I kind of refrain from being a vocal leader,” Semeon said. “I’d rather lead by example. I know a bunch of the other guys just follow my lead. It’s kind of nice when you don’t have to constantly be vocal like, ‘Hey guys, do this, do that, do that.’ I have full faith in the guys to be accountable for themselves and have each other’s back.”
Semeon spent his first two college years at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, an honors college approximately half an hour away from his hometown of Bowie, Maryland.
After a successful two years at UMBC, Semeon transferred to Auburn. He credits the transfer with helping him become a better runner.
“When I was training in Maryland, I remember countless times I would start running and it would be like negative-18 degrees with wind chill,” Semeon said. “Having that consistent training through the winter, not having to resort to running indoors or on treadmills and still having access to the track during winter is so helpful.”
The Thomas Stone High School product competed in six events in his first year on the Plains, including a runner-up finish at the South Alabama Opener. Semeon improved as the season went on, running a personal-best 8k of 25:01 at the Furman Classic and finishing 28that the SEC Championship.
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“I had a pretty good year,” Semeon said. “I finished last year off pretty strong. … It’s definitely pretty good when you set a personal best because you just did what you didn’t think you could do before. It just opens up a whole door of more possibilities, new times to run and new competition.”
Sophomore Mitchell Gomez, Semeon’s teammate, said Red has made a positive impact on and off the course since his arrival on the Plains.
“He’s definitely one-of-a-kind,” Gomez said. “The energy he brings to practice is always so positive. We get the work done and we have fun doing it. He really makes good energy throughout the team and allows us to just get out there and want to compete hard and win.”
Semeon followed his inaugural cross country season at Auburn with strong performances in indoor and outdoor track, but he has ramped up his training this summer in hopes of taking his running to another level this fall.
“I built up to about 100, 105 miles a week and I ran that for about seven weeks straight,” he said. “I took a down week and right now I’m bringing my training back up to around 100 miles a week.”
Auburn cross country coach Mark Carroll has taken notice of Red’s hard work and expects him to have a breakout season.
“Redatu Semeon has been training hard all summer and really came on strong late in the outdoor track season,” Carroll said. “He will be our leader of the team so I’m hoping he has a great year.”
While Semeon has stepped up as the captain after the departures of team leaders such as Ty McCormack and Kane Grimster, Gomez has seen natural leadership in the senior since the two arrived on campus last summer.
“He’s always been a leader honestly,” Gomez said. “He’s always been the guy that’s been out there working the hardest and doing what he has to do in the classroom and off the field. We’re glad to have him as a leader.”
Semeon has all the pieces in place as he heads into his second and final season at Auburn, this time as the primary leader of a team that finished third in the SEC last season.
“I’m confident in coach Carroll’s coaching, and I’m pretty confident coming into this year of my capabilities,” Semeon said. “If you have faith in your coach, faith in yourself and faith in your training, those are the three things you need to be successful. I feel like I have all three.”
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