Anderson returns as key runner

In her first season racing, Anderson was a top finisher for the Gophers.

by Tommy Jaakola

If it weren’t for one of her middle school teachers, Danielle Anderson might not be running cross country.
But she was recruited for her middle school’s team, and the redshirt sophomore has been running ever since.
“Danielle is awesome; obviously, out of high school she came out as a pretty high-end kid,” head coach Sarah Hopkins said. “She’s a very driven kid. She’s had to go through some obstacles with injuries and things, but whenever [she gets] back to healthy and going, she sticks her nose right back into things.”
Anderson graduated from Eagan high school in 2013 after several successful seasons.
She was a four-time all-state honoree in cross country, named a high school All-American in 2012 and helped her team finish in second at the 2012 state meet. 
Upon arriving at the University of Minnesota, Anderson redshirted her freshman year due to an injury.
“I’ve been injured a lot. Coming into freshman year, I was injured the entire year,” Anderson said. “Since then, I’ve been able to train hard and even made it to nationals with the team last year.”
Last year Anderson came back healthy and with a flash of her old highschool self. She placed second for the Gophers in the 2014 Griak Invitational and fourth for the team at the 2014 NCAA Midwest Regional, where she earned all-regional honors after running a career best time of 20:53.3. 
She finished her redshirt freshman season as the fourth Minnesota finisher at the NCAA Championships.
Hopkins said Anderson can be a key runner for the Gophers when she’s healthy. 
“The sky is the limit; her first year she was always a top five runner for us,” Hopkins said. “She has the gut feeling in races for when to make moves and when to respond to moves, which is hard to teach. With her being so young and relatively inexperienced race race-wise, to have that is awesome.”
The top five runners for a team contribute to the team’s overall score, so Anderson’s success is important to the Gophers as they attempt to reach the NCAA Championships for the 11th straight year.
Teammate and captain Kaila Urick said she expects an improved season from her younger 
“She’s very mature for her age and has been very positive dealing with injuries,” Urick said. “She has a ton of potential. I think she’ll do even better than last year, and she’s going to improve each and every year because she works so hard.”