In a sport where sometimes the individual achievements can outshine the team performance, Wilbur Cross’ Danae Rivers knew how to balance both to perfection.
The sophomore middle distance runner went undefeated in the state of Connecticut in the 800 and 1,600 meter events, but the wins, as she said, are never guaranteed. The focus for Rivers, who earned All-American status during the indoor season, was to just enjoy what the season brought.
“My goal for this outdoor season was to finish the season and to have fun,” Rivers said.
Rivers, the Register Area Outdoor Track and Field MVP, scored an eye-opening 263.50 points for her team as she tripled in nearly every meet, running the 800, 1,600 and anchoring the 4×400 relay.
“It just shows she understands she’s part of something bigger than herself,” Cross girls’ head coach Nally Sahin said. “Even though she goes and runs her own individual events, she’s always willing to go and make the sacrifice and run again.”
At the State Open, that balance of team and individual aspect was on the full display. Rivers battled it out in one of the best 1,600 races the state has seen. She and Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi led a pack of four girls who clocked under four minutes and 50 seconds, as Rivers edged out DeBalsi to win and break the Open record in a time of 4:47.45.
Rivers’ day wasn’t done, though. She went on to win the 800 and then in the last race of the meet, ran a gutsy 4×400 anchor leg to help propel her team to a first-place finish (3:58.37), barely beating Windsor. Her performances aided Cross to a third-place team finish at the Open, the highest place since 2004 when the Governors won the crown.
“I know that one of the team’s goals was to do our best running the 4×400 meter relay with Windsor at State Open,” Rivers said. That was a really great experience to have with my teammates.”
“It was phenomenal,” Sahin said of the 4×4. “We already knew we had our work cut out for us against Windsor. Each leg kept getting better and better and to see her (Rivers) really go into her sprint mechanics, really helped her. … Knowing that she could chase down that person and having that determination and actually do it, that was exciting to see.”
Rivers also helped lead Cross to a Southern Connecticut Conference Western Section title, a runner-up finish a the SCC and Class MM.
Outside of Connecticut she won the prestigious Glenn D. Loucks Games mile title in White Plains, New York, in May (4:49.62). At the end of the season she earned the Connecticut Gatorade Track and Field Girls Athlete of the Year award and was the first sophomore to receive the Register Female Athlete of the Year honor.
And all of this comes with Rivers still having two more years to run.
“Well, I really credit her work ethic to her family,” Sahin said. “Her family, they just do such a great job with her. She takes those skills and applies those to the track. It’s very rare to see someone of her age that has that type of work ethic. Her work ethic beats my work ethic and that’s a hard thing to do, to beat a coaches work ethic, but something she does.”