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Higher power: Nwade to skip city finals for religion

Ndubisi Nwade knows the meaning of dedication.

After careening through the finals of the 110-meter hurdles last Wednesday, the Van Buren junior hurdler/long jumper once again earned himself a place among the city’s elite in qualifying for the PSAL City Championships.

But because the Championships are scheduled for Saturday, June 2, Queens’ top hurdler will have to pass on the season finale as it conflicts with his religious faith.

As a member of the Seven-Day Adventist Church, Nwade celebrates the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. With many of the PSAL’s track meets slated for Saturday over the course of the season, Nwade has had to decide whether to observe his religious laws or participate in his hobby. For Nwade, there is only one decision.

“[If there is a conflict] I definitely don’t run,” Nwade said. “I’ve qualified for the city championships a few times, but I’ve never been able to go because it’s always held on a Saturday.”

Van Buren coach Marty Laskin tried to accommodate Nwade’s schedule during the season.

“I tried to make sure to schedule a couple of Sunday meets this season,” Laskin said. “Because of his religion, there are times he can’t participate.”

While Nwade won’t get the opportunity to face off against some of the city’s top talent in his event, the season was a revelation for Laskin, as Nwade established himself not only as one of the top runners in the area over the barriers, but also showed flashes of brilliance in the long jump.

“The long jump could wind up being his best event,” Laskin said. “He’s very raw, but talented. Right now he’s just jumping on raw energy. But eventually I think he may be able to jump over 22 feet.”

Laskin recognized quickly that he also had a budding talent in the hurdles.

“When I first saw him,” said Laskin, “I said ‘I’ve got to develop this kid into a top-notch hurdler.’ He’s powerful and he’s very fast between the hurdles.”

Despite the fact that Nwade won’t be able to compete Saturday for the Killer Bees, Laskin was glad his up-and-coming talent got the opportunity to distinguish himself against the borough’s best.

“I’m very thankful the Queens championships didn’t take place on a Saturday,” Laskin said.

While Nwade will spend another city championship celebrating his faith, ultimately he believes his decision could be a rewarding one.

“It’s trying,” said Nwade, “but I think it’s worth it. I feel like I’ve done something and I’m taking a stand for something I believe in.”

Reach Contributing Writer Brian Towey by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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