DenAdel strives for excellence on and off the track

Article by Giancarlo Santoro, guest writer

A cross country runner and team captain, senior Alan DenAdel has been the top Pacific Lutheran University finisher in all but two races throughout his entire career as a Lute. His secret, he said, is building and maintaining consistency.

DenAdel, 22, of Bow, Washington, said he always knew that after coming out of high school he wanted to continue his running career in college. At his high school, Burlington-Edison, DenAdel was a three-time state meet qualifier, as well as a member of the 2007 and 2009 state championship teams. After an overnight visit to PLU, he found what he was looking for.

“After a couple of years of taking cross country seriously in high school, I developed a passion for the sport,” he said. “I really wanted to continue to run as a part of a team in college, and I had the opportunity to do that here.”

Since joining the Lutes three years ago, DenAdel has continued to improve on a yearly basis and has transformed into a vital part of the team. His results, to put it simply, have been impressive. After placing 44th in the NWC meet during his first year, DenAdel has vastly improved, finishing fourth in 2011 and second in 2012. His 2012 finish was good enough to qualify for the regional championship.

“Consistency is a key part of my running in general. I have been described as metronomic by my coach, and it is something I have developed over the course of 10 years of gaining experience as a distance runner,” DenAdel said.

The thought of running 1 mile can be enough to make some people cringe, and when faced with upwards of 5 miles, most people would say ‘forget it.’ One of DenAdel’s teammates, senior Michelle Domini, said one of the toughest parts of distance running is staying mentally strong through grueling races.

“I think what makes Alan [DenAdel] so consistent is that he doesn’t psych himself out,” Domini said. “Some of his greatest strengths as a runner are his work ethic and grittiness. He can push through the pain and exhaustion.”

This mentally tough attitude has helped shape DenAdel into the runner he is today, and barely one month into the season, he has continued his streak of finishing as the top PLU runner in each of the last four competitions.

After competing in the 2011 NCAA Division III national championship as a sophomore and earning first team all-Northwest conference honors as a junior, he said he is looking to go even further in his final year as a Lute.

“Coming into this season I had four major goals. I wanted to run under 25 minutes for an 8k, win the conference meet, qualify for nationals and become an All-American,” DenAdel said. “A couple weeks ago, I was really excited to run a 24:57 at the Sundodger Invitational 8k in Seattle and meet my first goal.”

DenAdel is not satisfied, however, and said he knows he will have to improve in order to meet the rest of his goals.

“I have a lot that I can continue to improve on as a runner, DenAdel said. “ I think that I can always improve my biomechanics and running form, but I would also like to increase my range of events.”

In addition to his prowess as a runner, DenAdel has also performed in the classroom, earning Capital One Academic All-District 8 honors in 2013. A mathematics major with minors in statistics and biology, DenAdel said he plans to take a year off to work in a clinical setting before going to medical school in 2015.

DenAdel’s consistency in the classroom, as well as on the field, has inspired many teammates. Domini said DenAdel is a role model to his teammates.

“Alan leads by example. He works hard, has fun and does well,” Domini said. “People see that and want to do the same.”

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