Daniel Bausch finished around last place in his very first run in the seventh grade.
Now the junior runner at Chugiak High School is closing in on two very strong school records and winning races on one of the most famous tracks in America. On April 13, Bausch recently made the distance runner’s pilgrimage to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, where the Eugene city limits welcome you to “Track Town USA.”
In his first of two races that weekend, Bausch had a heyday season performance. He first won his heat in the 3000m with a personal best time of 8:40, which converts to about a 9:18 3200m. The next day he came back and ran another personal best 4:00 in the 1500m which is a 4:18 1600m conversion. Chugiak’s school record in the 3200m is 9:17 and has stood for 30 years when it was set by Dave Morris back in 1988. The 1600m record of 4:15 was set in 2015 by Ty Jordan who is having a personal best season himself as miler at Boise State. This past indoor season for the Broncos, Jordan, a redshirt freshman, ran a 4:08 mile and recently clocked a 3:47 1500m and 1:53 800m outdoors.
Being his first time racing outdoor track in Oregon, Bausch did a scouting report on the 3000m competition beforehand and made some discoveries.
“Nobody was under 8:55. So I thought, ‘maybe I can win?’ If I hadn’t looked at the seed times, I wouldn’t have realized I could win,” Bausch said.
“It was really windy with the wind pushing in our faces in the 100 meters of the homestretch. We were on pace for 8:45, 10 seconds faster than we planned,” Bausch said.
As the pack started to break up, it soon became a two man race between Bausch and Henry Giles of Sherwood, Oregon in the lead. Running “way faster” than he expected, Bausch checked his instruments and sat off the shoulder of this bogey.
Bausch remembers as the bell lap approached, “(Giles) really poured it on.”
Wanting to avoid that headwind down the homestretch, Bausch rolled the dice, and sat as long as he could. “I could have passed him in the back stretch, but I wasn’t sure how fast this guy was.”
Bausch made sure once he took the lead, there would be no room for error.
With less than 200 meters to go and still trailing in second place, Bausch’s instincts told him he had the race, but being new to the territory of winning on the big stage made him hold back to be 100% certain.
“I cut it as close as I could. I may be passed him 10 meters before the finish line. I was mind blown when I won, wondering what happened? I was actually more excited with my time than the place,” Bausch said.
Call it finding that last gear, or an ace up the sleeve, Bausch kept his cards close and beat the house by a narrow margin of .35 seconds while improving upon his PR by a huge 30 seconds.
After the win, Bausch was also awarded a traditional victory lap around Hayward Field along with a t-shirt to toss into the crowd. It’s an honor given to all Hayward champions, whether you win your Olympic trials race or the second heat of a high school invitational.
It’s noteworthy to mention Blake Bennett, a senior at Anchorage Christian School ran 8:39 to place 7th in his faster heat of the 3000m that day. Bennett also ran the 1500m the next day, running 4:05, for 9th place, two spots behind Bausch.
All pretty stellar stuff for local distance runners who are seeing success at home and learning from those who are excelling in the college ranks.
With a good endurance foundation in Nordic skiing, Bausch has found his focus on the track and has become a student of the sport. The famed indoor track of the New York City Armory is one of many venues he would like to race at someday. Some of his favorite runners are American mile record holder Alan Webb and current middle distance star and gold medalist Matt Centrowitz. Bausch lit up when mentioning the inspiration his coach Marko Cheseto gives him.
In the unique world of athletics- a dream, a good trajectory, focus and give or take five years of dedication can eventually get you on some of the same starting lines and race venues as your high school heroes.
Bausch says he broke his most recent goals in Oregon, attaining them a bit earlier than he expected. So logically now, it’s on to those school record benchmarks. In the near future, his goal is to run at the Division I level in college. The success Jordan has found at Boise State, breaking trail and setting a strong example is tangible motivation for Bausch that future is bright.
The enthusiasm his coaches have in seeing his potential develop is a credit to Bausch’s focus to excel.
“It was by sheer circumstance that Daniel landed in the Mustang family (he transferred from West this past semester), and his passion for the sport has reignited my own excitement at seeing just how far we can take training at the high school level. Chugiak is lucky to have him,” said Head Coach Melissa Hall.
“Daniel is driven to accomplish his goals and he studies his performances, and those of his competitors’, with a scientist’s eye. It is this attention to detail that helps him gain confidence in his running and also gives him a competitive edge. He is constantly pushing the envelope of his training, and he knows that at the level he is approaching, eking out an extra second or two each race is a huge accomplishment,” Hall said.
“Daniel’s steadfast persistence in training is helping him reach his long-term goals. He is a process-oriented goal-setter rather than an outcomes-based goal setter and this loyalty to the process is what helps him become a better runner.”
“I love training him and being a numbers nerd with him because we can talk training all day, and never tire of it. It’s a true passion for him,” said Hall.
Every winner has a support crew and Mustang teammate and training partner, sophomore Hyrum Nelson has been having a strong season alongside Bausch, clocking his fair share of consistent wins and PR’s in the 1500m 4:12, 1600m 4:31, 3000m 9:08, 3200m 9:43 and a 2:02 800m showcasing his speed and kick. At the University of Oregon Invitational, Nelson anchored the Mustang’s sprint medley relay team of Ezra Erickson, Charlie Latimer and Michael Earnhart. Nelson’s 800m split of 2:00 powered his squad to a 5th place finish out of 28 teams in a time of 3:45.
Rounding out a strong mix of team leaders for the Mustangs so far this 2018 season are;
100m Jeremiah Wilson 11.28, Ezra Erickson 11.58, Jacob Oshesky 11.71
200m Jeremiah Wilson 23.11, Jacob Oshesky 24.35, Ezra Erickson 24.43
400m Michael Earnhart 52.97, Charlie Latimer 53.17, Wyatt Rohde 55.25
800m Daniel Bausch 2:00, Hyrum Nelson 2:02, Charlie Latimer 2:02, Jacob Lestina 2:04
1500m Daniel Bausch 4:00, Hyrum Nelson 4:12
1600m Daniel Bausch 4:24, Hryum Nelson 4:30, Max Hartke 4:42, Jacob Lestina 4:45
3000m Daniel Bausch 8:40, Hyrum Nelson 9:08, Michael Earnhart 9:59
3200m Hyrum Nelson 9:43, Daniel Bausch 9:48, Max Hartke 10:20, Michael Earnhart 10:22
110m Hurdles James Mathes 17.09, Logan Mathieu 17.11, Justin Nevells 17.25
300m Hurdles Wyatt Rohde 42.73, James Mathes 44.42, Jared Heaston 47.06
4 x 100m 45.33
4 x 400m 3:45.22
Shot Put Kenny Huffer 40’ 9.5, Lincoln Oldham 37’ 7, Torrin Girard 37’ 0.5
Discus Kenny Huffer 129’ 7, Lincoln Oldham 116’ 4, Ryan Winborg 114’ 3, Torrin Girard 113’ 1
High Jump Jared Parks 5’ 6, Lincoln Oldham 5’ 4
Long Jump Jeremiah Wilson 19’ 7, Justin Nevells 18’ 5.5, Jared Parks 18’ 5, Jack Newell 18’5
Triple Jump Wyatt Rohde 38’ 10, Lincoln Oldham 38’ 8.5, Jared Parks 38’ 7.75, Owen Lewis 38’
Nephi Tyler enjoys writing, fly fishing, classic movies, aviation history and all things outdoors. To reach Nephi, email: firstname.lastname@example.org