By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor
Being one of the four Kenyan runners on the Hutchinson Community College cross country team, sophomore Sylvestre Kibarar has had to adapt to many aspects of life in America.
“Going back to when Sylvestre first got here, he was probably one of the four Kenyan runners who struggled the most to adjust with not only the culture but also the food, the climate, and everything,” cross country coach Justin Riggs said.
Making adjustments to live and compete in such contrasting cultures would be arduous for anyone. However, Kibarar has made several crucial adaptations.
“It has been difficult to adapt to a new culture. I had to adapt to speaking fluent English instead of my native language. I have also had to adapt to the different kinds of food, and even different training styles,” Kibarar said.
“My teammates, roommates and my father have made the adaptation a lot easier.”
Regardless of the difficulty to accommodate American customs, Kibarar has done well at staying focused on cross country and develop as a runner.
“I have improved physically when it comes to training and competition, yet, I have also improved my mindset when it comes to racing. I know I can compete at a higher level,” Kibarar said.
Additionally, his ability to adapt to this new culture has also played a role in his development as a runner.
“I think in this past year he’s been able to adapt more to being here and really starting to run to his potential this year,” Riggs said. “I’m excited for him, he’s been running really well this fall, so far.”
Having another runner like Andrew Kibet – also from Kenya – in the same program as Kibarar is a blessing for both runners, as well as the team.
“Sylvestre and Andrew run side-by-side in just about every workout we do, which is great that they have a training partner to do that with,” Riggs said. “When they race, usually they race side-by-side for most of the race.”
Kibarar’s personality is light-hearted and is thought to be fun to be around.
“Everybody loves Sylvestre, he gets a lot of people to laugh, he’s a goofy guy, pretty relaxed,” Riggs said. “He’s a strong competitor, sturdy runner, always himself. As for his personality, I appreciate his consistency.”
After his community college career at HutchCC, Kibarar plans to transfer to a university to run and earn his degree in nursing.