GNAC national champion hails from Soldotna

Marie Ries is a member of the UAA track and field team.

When Danielle McCormick started running for the Seawolves as a freshman, she did not think that she would walk away with a national championship title less than three years later.

“I never expected to even work myself up to an All-American,” McCormick said.

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Danielle McCormick was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Female Athlete of the Year for her performance at the indoor championships in March. Photo credit: Patrick Cuddihy

The junior started her running career in middle school and has done both track and cross-country ever since. What she loves most about running is the “direct relationship between what you put in and what you get out.”

“During competition, there aren’t as many factors involved in how you place compared to other sports. You just push yourself as far as you can go, there’s no luck involved,” McCormick said.

As an athlete for Soldotna High School, McCormick was a four-time Alaska state qualifier, but did not win any individual state titles. Since the start of her freshman year at UAA, she beat her previous 800-meter best of 2:17.88 by more than 11 seconds.

In her sophomore year, McCormick broke the indoor and outdoor school record in her main event. She also made her debut at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Florida, earning her first All-American trophy.

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“That was kind of eye-opening, realizing that I hadn’t reached my full potential and I was capable of running with the top competitors [in the nation],” McCormick said.

Eight months later, McCormick became the first female athlete in program history to be the first individual national title in school history for the UAA women’s program at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships.

“I think part of being an athlete is never being satisfied, always wanting to push yourself to be better than you are now and I think that drive, along with my training partners and coaches, helped me achieve that,” McCormick said.

In March, she was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Female Athlete of the Year for her performance at the indoor championships.

Now, McCormick has moved on to the outdoor part of the track season. At the 2018 Triton Invitational in San Diego, she once again bettered her own school record to 2:06.17. She is currently ranked third in the nation.

“We have an amazing mid-distance team this year with Tami [Perez], Yemi [Akeilia Knight], Ruth [Cvancara] and I,” McCormick said. “It’s so rewarding to struggle together, push each other in practice and then see it all pay off in races.”

McCormick was named to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association Scholastic All-American as well as the GNAC All-Academic team two years in a row.

McCormick said she does not have any concrete goals for the championships, other than beating her personal best.

“I’m excited to see what all of us can do for the rest of the season,” McCormick said.

The GNAC championships in Oregon are scheduled for May 11 and 12. The outdoor season ends at the NCAA Outdoor Championships May 24-26.