NEW HAVEN >> The times and places justify just how talented Wilbur Cross junior middle distance runner Dane Rivers is.
But to get to the core of who the athlete really is, and is becoming, you have to go back to February 13.
It was that Friday night at the Floyd Little Athletic Center when Rivers led the Governors to their first Class L state title since 2004. Rivers tripled in the meet, winning the 1,000, 1,600 and anchored the 4×400 relay that set a meet record.
Less than 24 hours after winning the state title, she ran the mile at the prestigious Millrose Games at the Armory in New York. She finished in fourth place in a highly-competitive field.
“She took on a challenge and achieved the best she could,” Cross head coach Travis Gale said. “She knew she had to help the team on Friday and going into Saturday, she was very excited about the competition. She truly is strong in all aspects, mentally, physically and emotionally.”
The two-time Register girls’ indoor track area MVP proved this season just how much she has matured as a runner in all facets.
Rivers tripled in nearly every meet for Cross, going undefeated in the 1,000, 1,600 and anchoring the 4×4 that won the SCC, Class L and State Open titles.
With that grueling task in mind, she really focused on when to conserve her energy and when to push the limits; something she admits was a learning process.
“Knowing that I didn’t have to max out for every race felt different for me mentally and physically,” she said. “Mentally I’ve contemplated whether or not it’s a good thing to chill or to run hard every race. Physically it felt weird for my body to not feel totally drained.”
Rivers didn’t set a meet record every race during the nearly fourth month long season, but that didn’t matter. She led Cross to third-place finish at the SCC Championships and captured second place at the State Open.
“Danae has matured in all aspects, in the classroom and on the track,” Gale said. “She is a great student-athlete and is very strong minded. She truly understands what it takes to be strong and pushed by anyone she competes against.”
Along the way she won the Yale Classic mile and won the 1,000 meter title at the New England Championships in Boston, turning in a state-record time of 2:49.68. She finished the season with the fifth-fastest 1,000 time in the nation.
“Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed running the 1,000 this year,” Rivers said. “I didn’t run it last year so it was a rejuvenating experience. Running the 1,000 at New England’s was pretty cool, due to the fact that I had people to run with and push me.”
Rivers also finished with the No. 7 time in the nation in the 1,600 (4:54.68) and 15th in mile (4:53.87).
She ended the year running the mile at Indoor Nationals and was the anchor on the sprint medley relay with teammates Gabby Curtis, Leah Rivers and Claudia Schatz that finished with the seventh best time in the country (4:05.40).
Gale said coming off the indoors he’s excited to see what the outdoor season has in store, as Rivers will shift her focus more to the 800 meters.
“What I learned from this indoor season is that if you have a goal in mind, in order to achieve it you have to believe it,” Rivers said. “This simple phrase can mean a lot and that’s what I would like to take with me to the upcoming outdoor season.”