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Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: February 29, 12:58 AM ET
18 Under 18: Edward Cheserek

By Chris Parish
ESPNHS Magazine

ESPNHS honors 18 male teen athletes who are doing remarkable things on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. Click here to read about them.

St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) junior Edward Cheserek is a national cross country champion. It's incredible to think that just two years ago he was living in a mud hut in Kenya.

But after coming to the United States thanks to a church-sponsored program at his school, he's become arguably the nation's most feared high school distance runner.

"The hardest part was leaving my family and coming to a new country where I did not know anyone," said Cheserek, who turned 18 in February.

If he was having a tough time adjusting, he didn't show it. Since coming over from Kenya in the summer of 2010, Cheserek has not only learned English, he's rewritten course records across the country. In his first season in the United States, he finished just two seconds behind national champ Lukas Verzbicas at Nike Cross Nationals.

One season later, he blasted course records all season long, including one at the prestigious Manhattan Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in New York. He set another course record at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional (15:20.05) before winning the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships crown by one second.

In the winter, he also set a national high school indoor record in the 5,000, becoming the first prep athlete to crack the 14-minute mark in the event when he finished in 13:57.04.

He's run the second-fastest indoor mile ever produced by a high school athlete and could challenge for the prep mile record during the outdoor season.

Cheserek's English is improving by the day, and so are his times. It's impossible to predict how much better he could be.