October 31, 2007

Freshman Dannemiller Makes His Mark on XC

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Last Friday, the men’s cross country team competed at Heps, the Ivy League championships. After the Ancient Eight’s fastest individuals crossed the finish line, it became clear that upperclassmen hold a significant advantage over their competition.
With each year, runners gain a year of experience and a year of training to improve their strength and conditioning. At Heps, a junior finished first. Then came Cornell senior captain Sage Canaday, followed by a sophomore, a senior, a senior, another senior, and yet another senior. All in all, 12 of the first 25 finishers were seniors. Another seven were juniors and four more were sophomores. Just two of the top-25 finishers were freshmen.
Among those two freshmen was Cornell phenom Adrien Dannemiller. The newcomer from Martinsville, Indiana placed 22nd overall with a time of 25:22.9 on the five mile course.
“According to Sage and [head] coach [Nathan Taylor], I have the best [Cornell] freshman time that was ever run at a Heps meet,” Dannemiller said.
That record could be the first of many for Dannemiller.
“He’s a good freshman,” Canaday said. “He’s probably one of the best freshmen who has come through Cornell in the last 10 years; maybe even the best freshman ever. [He’s] just a super-talented guy.”
Despite his youth, Dannemiller has been one of the most consistent runners on the team this season. He has finished fourth among Red runners in each of the races in which he has competed.
“He’s been a very key part to our success,” senior Jimmy Wyner said. “Usually, you don’t really expect a freshman to be in the top-5 or count on a freshman to be in the top-5. Usually the freshmen — toward the end of the season — tend to fizzle out. But he’s been going really strong, especially this last weekend at Heps. He really came through.”
One key to Dannemiller’s success has been his smooth transition from high school racing. He has had to adjust to the fact that he’s no longer a consistent front-runner in races. He must now hang back with the pack for much of the race before making his move, something he has been able to do comfortably all year.
“When you’re in the middle of the pack in a race, there are always competitors near you,” he said. “As the front-runner, you can rest a little bit. Now I’m pushing myself the whole way.”
If Dannemiller progresses as a runner, he may soon return to being a consistent front runner in races. But until then, the team has benefited from his hard work and competitive nature. Canaday, who has been Cornell’s best runner this season, says that Dannemiller is better than he was as a freshman.
“I think, in the future, if he continues to improve, he can break some records for sure,” Canaday said. “He’s very talented and he works really hard.”