Jim Souhan
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TOKYO — "Two kids from the north running really fast,'' Joe Fahnbulleh said.

So on Wednesday morning in the Twin Cities, Fahnbulleh's extended family at Hopkins High School put together another watch party, and Kenny Bednarek had friends and family watching from a garage in Rice Lake, Wis.

Their strong finishing kicks in the 200 meters could have persuaded you to think they were settling a Vikings-Packers bet.

Canada's Andre de Grasse won in 19.62 seconds. Bednarek earned silver in 19.68. Fahnbulleh, 19 years old and the second-youngest in the final, took fifth in 19.98 — .01 faster than his semifinal time.

Fahnbulleh said he looked up to Bednarek, and in this race he could look ahead to see Bednarek. But he intends to spend the rest of his career looking back at the field.

"I can run with the best,'' Fahnbulleh said. "Give me a year. One year. I'll show you. Give me one year in college and I'll show you who I really am.''

Fahnbulleh, the son of Liberian immigrants, grew up in Minnesota, goes to school at Florida and competes for Liberia.

Bednarek was born in Oklahoma, became a track and football star in Rice Lake, and attended Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Fahnbulleh is 19. Bednarek is 22.

Bednarek got a silver. Fahnbulleh got a jacket.

For his first overseas trip, Fahnbulleh — who won the outdoor nationals 200 while racing for the University of Florida as a freshman — said he bought an "H&M jacket, and got everyone's signatures.''

Well, not everyone. He's still hoping to get sprinting stars Allyson Felix and Gabby Thomas to sign.

And maybe Bednarek. "Obviously we weren't racing each other when I was in high school, because he was in Rice Lake. But that was a person I was looking up to,'' he said. "It was like, 'I'm not alone.' We stayed in touch and I was getting more motivation from him. Finally, it came full circle.''

Bednarek ditched his trademark headband, the one that earned him the nickname "Kung Fu Kenny," saying he wanted fans to be able to see his gold-highlighted hair.

Both think this year was the start of something bigger, something faster.

"Joe's a great guy, I've talked with him a little bit,'' Bednarek said. "He said he looked up to me? He's definitely going to be one of those people to watch for in the future. I know I definitely can run faster than this, and that will come with technique and experience.''

Three years from now, both could be running in the Olympic final in Paris.

Speaking to women wearing "Liberia'' T-shirts and holding the national flag, Fahnbulleh said, "Next year, I'm going to put you all on the map, for real.''

Who knew a map of Minnesota and Wisconsin would include the hometowns of two of the world's fastest men?

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Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the day the race took place.