On Nov. 20, Alahna Sabbakhan ’19 made her commitment to the University of Virginia official. She signed to run track at the university next year.
After visiting a number of colleges this fall, Sabbakhan settled on UVA in early November. She said, “When I went on my visit, I just felt really comfortable there and I could see myself there.” Both of Sabbakhan’s parents attended UVA, so she’s grown up visiting the school; however, her father, Rob Sabbakhan, said at the ceremony that they did not influence her in making her decision.
The ceremony began with a speech by the head track and cross country coach, Desmond Dunham. He spoke about Sabbakhan’s hard work and dedication, and shared one memory in particular that stuck out in his mind. Last year, before WCACs for outdoor track, he was calculating who needed to run what in order to tally up the most points. The way he saw it, the only way the girls could have a chance at beating Elizabeth Seton was if Sabbakhan could run the 200m and 800m back to back. Dunham said, “I knew asking her to do this was a lot, and I was prepared for her to say no. But when I asked her, the first thing she said was: ‘Can the team win if I do that?’ That to me really shows how dedicated she was to the team.”
Many of Alahna’s teammates, friends, and family were in attendance. Mr. Sabbakhan spoke after Coach Dunham. He said, “Alahna is a perfect example of good work ethic.” He attributed this work ethic to her success in running.
The final person to speak was Sabbakhan herself. She talked about how she’s been running since she was six. She started out in soccer with her older sister Sahna ’16, now a sprinter at James Madison, and transitioned into track. She said that she loves sharing her advice about running with people who are new to the sport.
Both Sabbakhan and Mr. Sabbakhan credited a lot of her recent success to Coach Dunham. Mr. Sabbakhan said that “having Coach Dunham come to St. John’s was a godsend.” As an underclassmen, Sabbakhan was a sprinter, but under Coach Dunham, she can now say that she’s a middle-distance runner. As a junior, Sabbakhan began running cross country and quickly made varsity. She helped the girls’ team win both WCACs and DCSAAs last year.
For her senior track season, Coach Dunham hopes that she will set a record for the 600m. Sabbakhan said, “I hope to PR in all my events and help us win the championship again.”