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Abubakari sign to compete in collegiate D1 track and field

by EMILY BONSANT
Staff Writer | June 6, 2024 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Surrounded by teammates, coaches, friends and family, Asha Abubakari signed to compete in track and field at Fresno State University, a Division 1 school in California on a full scholarship.

Abubakari is a four-time 3A state qualifier in the shot put and discus, a three-time state qualifier in the triple jump and long jump and has made state appearances as part of the Badgers’ 4x100 relay and 800 sprint medley relay teams.

She has won a total of 10 3A Intermountain League District 1-2 titles dating back to her freshman year: three in shot put, three in discus, two in the long jump, one in the triple jump and once in the 4x100 relay. 

She also has won four state titles, two each in both discus and shot put, and finished runner-up in both events this past season.

In addition to track and field, Abubakari also played on the varsity soccer, volleyball and basketball teams for the Badgers. During her volleyball career, she compiled 285 kills and 66 aces. In basketball, she was a 1,000-point scorer for Bonners Ferry and averaged 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game.

She will be sticking to throwing the shot put, discus and possibly the hammer throw as a Fresno State Bulldog. 

She said at the May 24 signing that everyone there had made an impact on her life and are why she is able to continue her athletic career. She also thanked her coaches from IronWood Throwers Center, a year-round training facility for all throwing events in Ironwood.

She said traveling down to the center several times a week and going to throwing camp has made her the state champion she is today and led to her advancing to the collegiate level. 

IronWood founder Bart Templeman was present at Abubakari’s signing and said that while she might not be the top freshman when she enters college, with hard work and access to the coaching and facilities, she could be a future Olympian. 

“[Asha] will be open to new opportunities,” Ken McClain, a coach at IronWood, said about Abubakari moving to the collegiate level. “Some of these opportunities will be the hammer throw. I’m excited to see her grow as a person.”

Abubakari said she is excited to work with the coaches at FSU, be surrounded by serious athletes and get weightlifting. When interviewing with other schools, such as UCLA, coaches wanted to know what she was doing in the weight room. 

Due to a lack of access to weightlifting and additional costs of gym memberships, Abubakari has not had the ability to lift, but knows that will be a major part of training in college and that she will have access to a weightlifting coach. 

FSU is second in the Mountain West conference and has a strong women’s throwing program. Several of the athletes are aiming to compete in the 2028 Olympics. Abubakari said she is excited to work beside serious athletes and noted he is competitive and wants to be in an environment where her teammates are aiming high. 

She said with the right coaching and work ethic, she could qualify for the Olympics.

She knows she’s coming in as an underdog, but that is where she is comfortable, as she was an underdog as an underclassman.

“I’m excited to focus on just two events, instead of jumping around to different events,” she said. 

Abubakari will compete in indoor and outdoor track. 

Advice she gives to Badger athletes is to put time in outside of practice. She said to get to the next level and to be competitive, going to practice isn’t enough and training in the off season is necessary. 

“You can’t rely on your coach to do everything for you,” she said. “You need to put in the time and money to invest in yourself.” 

“Stand up for your teammates and yourself,” she said. “If you know something is wrong, don’t be afraid to talk to people.” 

She plans to major in kinesiology and become a coach, or pursue a master’s degree in athletic training. 

She thanked her mother Kelli Ripatti and her grandparents for driving her to competition and paying for her to compete in sports. She also thanked her coaches at BFHS and IronWood for investing in her and supporting athletics.

    Asha Abubakari smiles after signing with FSU.