Athlete of the Week: Riley Danielson, West Central Trojans
As a senior, Riley Danielson is finally running in the front for the West Central Trojans."I remember back when I was a underclassman in track, and looking up the upperclassman. I was thinking, 'Wow, they are fast!,' and being behind them like, 'Hopefully, that's me someday up in front of pack.' I've worked hard and now I am. It feels good," tells Danielson.
Riley's passion for track came from his grandpa, who was a coach at McCook Central. He used to go to every meet with him, and has started running himself. Danielson loves the feeling he gets when he gets better and has a satisfying race.
"When you go out at a track meet, and PR (personal record) in an event, you feel good about it. Probably not during the race, but afterwards, it's like I'm glad I did that and it felt good to go out and do that."
Track keeps Riley moving, and it has taught him to not give up in the toughest practices, or meets.
"When you are having a hard workout in track, you might think, 'Why do I do this, or how am I going to finish this?' But then, you go out and do it and realize it wasn't too bad, and do it again," says Danielson.
On the track, he's a middle and long distance runner. Last weekend at state in the Class A meet, Riley ran in the open 800, 4x800 relay, and medley relay. Danielson achieved one of his goals to run in the open 800 at state, and it indicates how hard he's worked over his four years at West Central.
"Freshman and sophomore year, he always tried hard, but was the little kid behind the pack. With his junior and senior year, I've watched him grow, get stronger, and compete with the state's best. Riley has done a very good job with preparing himself for every track meet he's been in. Every event I put him in, I feel like I am going to get his 100% all the time," adds head coach Brian Voss.
The biggest attribute Danielson brings to the Trojans is his stability, and it will be hard to replace. All of his coaches talk positively about him, and know what to expect from him every day in practice, and at meets.
"One thing I've liked about Riley is whether he is the 4x800, the medley, or open 800, I know what he can do, and that's what I am going to get each time he's on the track. I know with Riley that I will get nothing less than a 100% every race. He's will be totally missed on that, and like I said, he's worked hard to get where's at today, and when he graduates, there will be some big shoes to fill," shares Voss.
Not only are Riley's skills on the track vital to his team, but he is a leader for his fellow teammates, too.
"It's a lot different as a senior this year. I feel more responsible. I can't slack off ever, not that I did, but I really feel like I have to be at the front of the pack in practice. I like that. All the younger kids look up to you," explains Danielson.
"He's been an excellent leader for the Trojans. He sets an example in the workouts. He's always in the front of the pack, and is strong and supportive of his teammates. That's a really great quality for any track athlete. Riley has done a super job this year taking that leadership role and helping out our younger runners and seniors runners by making them the best," says Voss.
His teammates would agree, as they would say Riley always works hard, is reliable, and gives his best while he's out on the track. He will be missed, and even though, it may seem odd, Danielson loved to practice.
"Most people don't like practice, but I actually like it. I won't miss the hard workouts as much, but when we go out on our long runs, and talk about weird stuff, that's probably what I will miss."
While he isn't planning on running next year at South Dakota State, track has prepared him for his future.
"I think any sport, no matter what sport you are in, helps prepare you for your future. It's all about teamwork. You work as a team, and you sweat as a team. You do everything with teamwork, and I think that's the way you go through life - you work as a team. It's really hard to be an individual in a certain area. Any sport helps anybody, and it's helped Riley on the team aspect, and how to work hard," says Voss.
Riley will be attending SDSU, and plans to play in intramural sports. At West Central, he played golf, basketball, track and baseball. (West Central's baseball team made it to the state 'B' tournament, but fell in the semifinals to Madison, 1-0). In school, he loved to study all social studies related subjects.
*For comments, or story ideas, email Sam at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @samtastad.