Biglerville senior Daniel Wood, who won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs against Bermudian Springs, stands more than six feet tall. His height, unusual for a distance runner, provides benefits and challenges. Zach Miller - GameTimePA.com
Daniel Wood dove onto the nearby grass just after crossing the finish line, and stayed frozen there, face down and head down, baton still in his hand, for several minutes.
It was the first sign of fatigue the Biglerville senior showed all day, and who could blame him?
He had just run the last leg of a winner-take-all 1,600-meter relay on his home track last week against rival Bermudian Springs, at the conclusion of a meet in which he had already run three-and-a-half miles to win three distance races.
It was not more than 10 minutes since he'd finished the 3,200-meter run, crossing the finish line after that one looking more like he'd gone for a casual stroll in the park than a two-mile race.
As he lay in the grass, Bermudian Springs athletes celebrated a few feet away. Trevor Grim had passed Wood down the homestretch to give the Eagles the win. Wood's teammates came over to tell him it was OK, even to commend him on running the fastest split of anyone else on the relay after the day he'd already had. They didn't win the race with him in the lineup, but they certainly wouldn't have won it without him in there.
That last dash didn't make a difference in the dual meet, but it made a difference to his teammates and coaches. They had just witnessed the full force of Wood's competitive fire, which has been kindling since he started cross country last fall.
“I really give him a lot of credit because he was really adamant that he wanted to run the last race, and the guys wanted to run it with him,” Biglerville coach Alex Ramos said. “Usually after kids run the two-mile, they’re like, ‘Dude, do not even think about it, I’m not running the four-by-four.’”
So far this season, Wood holds the YAIAA's best 3,200-meter run time at 10:02.5 and ranks second in the league in the 1,600-meter run with a 4:38.05. He ran both of those times earlier this month at the Bruce Dallas Invitational, a meet that included several of the largest schools in District 3. Wood placed fourth and eighth in those events, respectively.
It's the first season he's fully committing to running. Standing more than six feet tall, Wood played soccer on club and academy teams from elementary school through his junior year. He tried track and field for the first time his sophomore year, and placed fifth at districts in the 1,600 run that spring.
Now he has his sights set on making a state run and setting school records in the 1,600 and 3,200 in his final season. The Biglerville records stand at 4:25 in the mile and 9:49 in the two mile.
Part of Wood's commitment included running cross country in the fall for the first time.
“I thought it was my senior year, so I might as well try something new," Wood said. "It went really well, I loved it, and I did throughout the winter.”
Wood qualified for the PIAA championships in cross country, and ran the notoriously difficult Hershey 5k course in 17:58. He aims to top that performance by finishing on the podium next month at the PIAA track & field championships in Shippensburg.
“Last year, I would run a race (in track) and I could barely recover for the next race," Wood said. "I wasn’t as solid in my base and strength. I can go out and do a race and recover a lot faster this year. I think cross country helped a lot with that.”
“I’m also a lot more competitive now from cross country. It gave me that positiveness and confidence that I could go out and do it.”