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Standout SH High Track Athlete Striving for College Success

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August 6, 2015

| by Katy Kachnowski |

Danny-Elia-SPORTWhile the competitive athletic careers of many graduated seniors have come to a close, the careers of some others will keep on running–literally. Recent Sleepy Hollow High School graduate Daniel Elia will continue his track and field career at the Division 1 Sacred Heart University this September.

Over the past five years, Elia has been a cornerstone of the Sleepy Hollow track and field team. Elia joined the varsity track team in the spring of 2011 as an eighth grader. This move was encouraged by Coach Lisa King, who spotted his talent in middle school physical education. As the youngest athlete on the team, Elia enjoyed the physical challenge and being pushed by his coaches and teammates.

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“It was fun for me,” he said. “At that point, I was just focused on keeping up with the rest of the pack.”

Elia competed in the long distance events, running both the mile and the two mile races. Elia continued to run long distance as a freshman and sophomore, where he received All-League and All-County honors. However, halfway through his high school athletic career, after running on a 4×200 meter relay team, he decided to make a change. Instead of running the longer events, Elia began training for the 400 meter, 400 meter hurdles, 55 meter and 110 meter hurdles, and joined the 4×400 meter relay.

“My switch to short distance was a bit of chance,” Elia explained. “The coaches needed a runner for the 4×200 meter relay after an injury, so I stepped in. After winning the race, I decided to change my events.”

It was in short distance where Elia found his groove. Today he holds eight school records, including the 400, the 400 hurdles, 110 meter dash, the 55 meter dash, and the 4×400 meter relay. He has gone on to attain All-Section, All-County, and All-League honors four times. Elia won numerous awards including the Bruce Jenner Award, the Rotary Club Sportsmanship Award, and the Doc Rasbeck Track MVP Award.

His final race as a Horseman was on June 12, at the State Championships in Albany. Elia competed in the 400 hurdles, and finished seventh, but was disqualified because his leg hooked the hurdles. While he is disappointed on missing out on All-State honors, he realized that it is just part of the sport.  “While I wish the State meet could have had a better ending, one race does not reflect all of the work that I have put into the sport and all that I have done so far,” he said.

Sleepy Hollow High School track Coach Paul Gersfeld is confident Elia will continue to excel in college.

“He is an outstanding track athlete, and his versatility really sets him apart from all the others,” Gersfeld said. “You can plug him in anywhere, in short distance, long distance, or a field event, and he can dominate. Because of this range, any coach is lucky to have him. That being said, I am happy for him and the continuation of his career. He has really matured, and is in a good place mentally and physically to compete at the college level. Sleepy Hollow will miss him and his talent, but we look forward to seeing him run in Division I track and field.”


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