To see what Danae Rivers is most proud of, you’ll need to visit the Robert H. Saulsbury Gymnasium at Wilbur Cross High.
That’s where the championship banners hang.
At the beginning of the indoor track and field season this past winter, the sophomore gazed at the walls and found something missing.
“A lot of flags hanging on the walls didn’t say ‘SCC women’s championship’ or ‘State Open,’” Rivers said. “There are more men’s championship flags displayed and earned than women in track and field at Wilbur Cross.”
Rivers made it her personal goal to change that, and followed through. The Governors won both the Southern Connecticut Conference and State Open team championship titles, ending a 10-year drought.
“It’s amazing though because we didn’t have quantity like other teams, but we have quality, and we were able to win both titles,” Rivers said.
After a breakout freshman outdoor season, Rivers, the Register’s Area Most Valuable Player, continued to improve as she tripled in nearly every meet, scoring valuable points for the Governors.
In Rivers’ premier event, the 1,600, she won the SCC West Sectional, SCC, Class L and State Open, setting a record at each meet. At the Open, she broke a 12-year-old state record in a blistering time of 4 minutes, 52.29 seconds. She then went on to claim the mile crown at the New England Championships.
But the team accolades are what Rivers really wanted for Cross.
She was a vital part of the 4×800 and 1,600 sprint medley relay teams. She led Cross to an undefeated season in the SMR, running the anchor leg behind Chaslynn Saucier, Gabby Curtis and Shea Connors.
The season started with a win at the Rhode Island Classic. They went on to score victories in the West Sectional, SCC, Class L and Open, again, setting meet records along the way.
The highlight of the season for Rivers was the New Balance Nationals in March. Rivers led the Governors SMR to a second-place finish in 4:02.68. Rivers ran an incredible 2:09.70 over the final 800 meters.
“I felt a rush of adrenaline running the SMR; I was on a mission to get the job done,” Rivers said. “That was a fantastic day for the SMR. This was all of our first time running a relay at the nationals, so it is a great accomplishment to be ranked second in the nation.”
Rivers then ran the mile at nationals, taking fourth place and lowering her time to 4:48.59. She finished the indoor season as the seventh-fastest runner in the nation, according to milesplit.com.
“The first meeting we had for indoor, I asked the girls to write down their goals,” Cross head coach Travis Gale said. “I believe it is important to have something to strive for, and Danae (writing team goals) truly shows she is a team player and wants to continue to make this track program here at Wilbur Cross great. The SMR and mile she ran was a great finish to her sophomore indoor track season.
“She earned and deserved everything she accomplished.”