Kathleen Storen, The Circuit

John Danner, a senior member of the cross country team, has hit his stride this season.

After taking this past year off due to a number of unwelcome surprises, he has been able to make up for the lost time.

Upon contracting Malaria and getting a foot infection during a FOCUS Mission Trip in Africa, and facing some financial difficulties, Danner was forced to sit out for the 2017-2018 season.

However, this year Danner says that he has been putting up more mileage than ever in his life, and it has been paying off in his races.

“Having the strength at three miles when you do workouts that are six, seven miles long, you get to that point in the race and you have so much more mental strength and so much more physical strength to keep going for those last three miles,” Danner said.

Danner’s results prove this to be true.

“I’ve placed in the top 20 for all of the races I’ve been in, except Griak,” Danner said. “I was a top 50 and that was a huge race.”

Danner finished 34th overall in the Roy Griak Invitational, which was hosted in Minneapolis, MN and had 351 runners.

He was the top NAIA runner in the 8k race coming in at a time of 26:36. His success earned him the honor of “Runner of the Week” for the Heart of America Athletic Conference for the second time this season.

Despite his racing success, Danner says that his greatest accomplishments go beyond his results.

“[My] biggest achievement is being able to be a part of this team and lead the younger guys, to help them along and give them a little insight into how to be a college athlete,” Danner said. “I’m the best runner on the team, so obviously you have to set the example of pushing it in workouts, and racing well.”

With the end of the regular season approaching, Danner finished in eighth place at the conference championship on Nov. 3. Since the team won that race, they will go to the NAIA championship.

As Danner looks ahead to life after college, he is sure that running will continue to play an important role, and intends to run for a semi-professional club.

“I definitely think it [running]  focuses me, and just gives me confidence,” Danner said. “Running is a lifestyle and I intend to keep that lifestyle going after college.”