Prep state titles taste even sweeter for first-generation athletes

LAKEWOOD — When asked how Dayspring Christian Academy junior Eboselulu Omofoma felt about seeing her older sister Odone at last get atop the Class 2A podium twice Saturday, she recalled a saying she overheard her father, Sylvester, once say.

“It’s like if a tree struggles to get water, the fruits are so much sweeter when it does get fruit — it’s kinda like that,” Eboselulu said after winning her fourth title of the weekend, and eighth in an already-illustrious prep career.

“If you get it every year, it’s not as sweet and it’s not as amazing. But when you struggle for it and it’s do-or-die, it’s so much sweeter. It’s so much sweeter for her to do it than I.”

On a weekend full of historic firsts, three first-generation athletes stood atop the podium multiple times at JeffCo Stadium.

The two youngest of the seven Omofoma siblings won a combined six first-place medals for DCA’s girls, helping lead the Greeley private school to a 2A team title with 90 points. Meanwhile Grand Junction Central senior Daniel Baroumbaye became Colorado’s “King of the Throws” in 2023 as he had the meet-high marks in both the Class 4A discus on Thursday (194 feet, 11 inches) and shot put (60-0) on Saturday. The former was a 4A meet record and the latter a personal-best heave on his final throw of the weekend.

All three athletes’ stories are rooted in Africa, but the sweet taste of victory came in Colorado.

The Omofomas moved from Nigeria and settled in Greeley, and the two youngest showed the state how quick they are. Sylvester moved to the U.S. first, followed by Vicky in 2004. Both ran track in Nigeria, with Sylvester doing long-distance and Vicky jumping. After Saturday’s events, it’s clear Odone got her dad’s speed, while Eboselulu got her mom’s hops.

The Baroumbayes, father Noubaissem and mother Florence plus their five children, moved to Gunnison from the African crossroads nation of Chad 11 years ago and eventually settled in Grand Junction. Daniel’s parents were on hand Thursday for the first time to witness his winning effort. On Saturday, it was his eldest sister, Sephora, who saw the Colorado State-bound thrower rip a new career-best and narrowly avoid a fault by twinkle-toeing the ring.

“For me it means that we’re the first people of our family to compete as U.S. citizens,” Baroumbaye said. “I just think that a lot of other kids have the opportunity to be great, but since we’re in a country like this that gives us these opportunities we have, but not many people have, coming here I was able to allow myself to be elevated and work towards a place where I am right now.”

His throws coach, Chris Moralez, who’s been coaching for 25 years, has rarely come across an athlete like Baroumbaye. He always tried to get him into football, not because of just his athleticism but rather his character.

“If he played a team sport, he’s the kind of kid that would change an entire culture,” Moralez said. “He’d change it because the type of person he is.”

The DCA duo also impressed as Ebsolulu Omofoma broke 15-seconds flat in the 100-meter hurdles and completed the rare four-for-four meet with a win in the 300-hurdles Saturday afternoon. She also won the triple jump (36 feet, 5 inches) and a third consecutive high jump crown (5-feet, 1 inch). Odone, who is looking to walk on to the track team at Grand Canyon University, won the 100- (12.18) and 200-meter dashes (25.11) and finished ninth in the shot put.

Odone recognized her and her sisters’ accomplishments, but it only heightened how their parents’ sacrifices helped drive the two to use their talents.

“I wouldn’t say it’s setting a standard, but it’s setting something up that can be achieved by all the other generations, too,” Odone said. “If we came from a different country and were able to get to the place we are at, thanks to the Lord, that really can happen to anyone else.”

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