Graduate student aims for NCAA Championships after a late start


Baswanth Naidu/ The Sunflower

Abeba Sullivan warming up before practice at Riverside Park, in Wichita on Aug. 23. Sullivan will compete with the women’s team at the JK Gold Classic on Sept. 3.

Abeba Sullivan was a junior in high school when she first started running. With the encouragement of her dad, she discovered her love for it.

Currently, Sullivan is a graduate student. With one season left of eligibility, she is looking to earn her first NCAA Championship.

After high school, she attended Iowa Central Community College. While at ICCC, Sullivan became a three-time NJCAA cross country All-American. 

Sullivan’s decision to come to Wichita State in 2020, was easy for her. She said that Head Coach Kirk Hunter treats her as more than just an athlete.  

Outside of running and taking classes to add on to her exercise major, one of Sullivan’s many responsibilities includes taking care of her one-year-old son. With the support from Hunter and support staff, she made a comeback after having her son. Sullivan said that she is at her best right now. 

“I just kind of surprised myself and am proud of myself for doing what I love to do,” Sullivan said. 

This season will be Sullivan’s last year running since she’s a graduate student. With meets coming up, she is putting in the work with hopes that a championship will be hers when the time comes. 

Sullivan’s goals include placing in the top three as a team at the American Athletic Conference Championship meet. Last season, she placed in the top five at the conference meet.   

“The team vibe (is) coming back together,” Sullivan said. “I want this season to be a winning season for all of us,” Sullivan said in regards to the women’s team.

Teammate Lubna Aldulaimi said that Sullivan takes on a big leadership role for their team on and off the track. Sullivan often helps Aldulaimi with her exercise science homework.

“She takes time to sit down and listen and talk to everyone about any personal or running problems,” Aldulaimi said. 

Hunter said that Sullivan started to have a breakout season last year during track and hopes that continues into this cross country season.

Sullivan tries to stay ahead of her schoolwork to help her balance all aspects of her life. She finds that listening to her body and taking care of her mental health are important. 

“I don’t think there is a single person on campus that won’t say they’re proud of her and what she’s done,” Hunter said.