Record breaking cross country star crushes the competition


Abel Tariku

Student athlete Elliot Daniels, 18, nursing major, stands on the De Anza College track on Thursday Nov. 17.

Abel Tariku, Staff Reporter

Many people get their morning coffee or head to school or work at 8 a.m., but De Anza College freshman Elliot Daniels gets ready to run his daily five miles.

After his run, the 18-year-old nursing major likes to relax and do his homework.

He spends his afternoon practicing for the cross country team and he likes to take an ice bath to relieve his muscles. He then works his shift as a janitor at the Westgate Church until 10 p.m., and he goes to sleep, waking up to do the same thing the next day.

Daniels has been running since the age of 9. He started to find his passion for running when he joined a running club at Discovery Charter Elementary School.

“Growing up I struggled a lot with my confidence because I wasn’t really good at anything,” Daniels said. “But when I went out to running practice for the first time and saw that I was able to keep up with my friends, that was really encouraging to me. It was like ‘wow, this is the first time I’ve ever felt like I’m actually good at something and I want to keep doing this.’”

Daniels continued to build his confidence, and with the hard work he put into his running club, by the age of 10 he broke the half-marathon world record time for his age group at the Oakland Running Festival on March 22, 2015, with a time of 1:27:28.

“I was expecting (to break the world record) because I had worked really hard. I knew that I had done everything that I needed to do in order to accomplish that,” said Daniels. “I knew that God was gonna pull me through and give me the ability to do it.”

He didn’t stop there, however — he also broke the world record time for 10 miles when he was 11 years old with 1:03:58 at the Rotary Mission Ten 10 Miles race in San Juan Bautista on Jan. 31, 2016.

He then broke the 10K world record time when he was 12 years old with 38:25 at the San Juan Bautista Double Road Race on Sept. 24, 2016.

His goal was to attain a full-ride scholarship to a university with a Division 1 league track and cross country program. And throughout his time at Prospect High School, it looked like he was on track to do so. In his four years on the team there, he continued to break records in both cross country and track.

By the end of his senior year at Prospect, Daniels was ranked as high as the second best runner in California by the Central Coast Section.

Former track and field teammate Kaiden Uehara ran alongside Daniels for four years at Prospect and has fond memories of their time together.

“He was always an energetic person that was happy to be around his friends,” Uehara said.

Daniels’ hard work did eventually pay off. This year, he was offered a Division 1 scholarship to California Baptist University. 

It was an offer he was ready to accept.

“I had been interested in going to CBU for a while and knew they had a really good running program,” Daniels said.

However, Daniels knew that even with the scholarship, he could not afford the tuition for CBU. He didn’t want to take out a loan, and drown in student debt, so he made the choice to decommit altogether.

After forgoing his dream college, Daniels also suffered a broken foot in his senior season— which was another hard reality check.

“It was a tough decision because I had dreamed of being on a Division One team for most of my youth,” Daniels said. “I didn’t care about moving out or anything, I just wanted to be on a big college running program.”

As a result, Daniels decided the best option for his future was to attend community college, so he enrolled at De Anza College and joined their cross country team.

When cross country head coach Nick Mattis heard the news that a world record holder was joining the team, he was thrilled. 

“It was exciting to get Elliot,” Mattis said. “(His) energy and motivation to be the best makes the other guys want to be the best as well.” 

“He loves the sport, and he’s excited every day at practice and it lifts us up,” Mattis added.

Daniels’ cross country teammates at De Anza appreciate and respect him on and off the track. His teammate Angel Arciniega, 18, mathematics major, said Daniels creates a great environment for him and his teammates.

“He’s extremely enthusiastic. He’s always wanting to bring up the team’s (spirits) either by playing music or talking,” Arciniega said. “(His energy) spreads throughout the entire team. Having him on this team is extremely important.”

This season Daniels finished 18th in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships on Nov. 19 and he placed first place in the entire freshman class in the state of California for cross country. 

Daniels is going to continue to run for the De Anza cross country team, and one day be able to transfer to a Division 1 cross country program and continue his running career.

“We have an incredible amount of depth in our whole team this year,” Daniels said. “De Anza is full of people who push me to be the best I can be every single day.”