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Cross Country’s Danner has unfinished business on the course

Alec Danner runs ahead of the pack. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

Graduate senior Alec Danner has been a mainstay in the Bradley cross country and track and field programs, and after five years he returned to Bradley this fall to compete as a Brave for one last time.

Prior to this season, Danner already had a successful career in the sport. In the 2020-21 season, Danner won all-conference honors and placed eighth at the MVC Championship. Last season he continued to thrive, climbing to fifth place at the conference meet, placing a team-best 39th at the NCAA Midwest Regional and recording the fifth-best 8K time in school history.

Even after all the success in his first four years, Danner still has goals he wants to achieve on and off the course.

“I had always planned on doing five years because I redshirted my freshman year,” Danner said. “I realized with COVID granting an extra year of eligibility, I could stick around and do my master’s. When I figured that out, I immediately wanted to do it.”

On the course, Danner feels like he has yet to reach his full potential.

“There have been plenty of points where I just hadn’t been racing well,” Danner said. “Really up to the end of my fourth year, the results weren’t quite as I hoped from the training I’d been putting in. That was kind of disheartening, but I learned to keep at it and knew that it would pan out eventually.”

Danner’s choice to return to the team has paid off early in the season. In his first meet of 2022-23 at the Bradley Intercollegiate, Danner ran the 8K course in a time of 23:49.2, the fastest in Bradley’s history. He credited a lot of his improvement to mental training this offseason.

“Running is a lot of physical, but it is a hugely mental affair as well,” Danner said. “I think [what’s important is] really just remembering what you’re training for, not having an ego in practice, not going super hard in training unnecessarily, being kind to yourself, giving yourself time to process stuff and taking things at a slower pace. Doing this has helped me put things into perspective. Putting more mental and physical effort into my training has helped me improve.” 

Danner is a leader and a team player. His favorite moment in his career isn’t a moment where he set a record or won a race, but a moment where the cross country program as a whole reached its pinnacle.

“My favorite moment is when the team qualified for nationals in cross country my sophomore year,” Danner said. “It was really inspiring to see those guys accomplish something that has never been done before and set a new bar for the program.”

In his last season as a Brave, Danner wants to improve on his legacy and be remembered long after he graduates.

“I want to chase some more records as we head into the track season and improve a lot of my times,” Danner said. “I want to leave a legacy so people talk about me after I’ve graduated. I want to be known as someone who worked hard and put forth an honest effort, and was always willing to help people struggling on the team.”

Danner looks to build on an already historic season on Sept. 30 at the Joe Piane Invite hosted by Notre Dame.

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