Indiana Daily Student

Graduate transfer makes his mark for IU cross-country

<p>Graduate transfer Daniel Michalski owns the Cedarville University records in the 3000-meter steeplechase and as a member of the 4x800-meter relay team. He graduated from Cedarville with a degree in exercise science, and he is now a member of the IU cross-country team.&nbsp;</p>

Graduate transfer Daniel Michalski owns the Cedarville University records in the 3000-meter steeplechase and as a member of the 4x800-meter relay team. He graduated from Cedarville with a degree in exercise science, and he is now a member of the IU cross-country team. 

Graduate transfer Daniel Michalski said it was a match made in heaven when describing his interest in IU athletics and academics. 

He spent four years as an undergraduate at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, where he graduated with a degree in exercise science. 

As a recent college graduate, Michalski came to IU knowing he would have the opportunity to continue two of his life’s passions — sports medicine and running. 

“I knew I was going to be graduating from Cedarville and I didn’t have a graduate program there that interested me so much,” Michalski said. “I found out I could study exercise science here in the applied sports science program and have an awesome running program.”

Not only did the Hoosiers bring in an experienced athlete to bolster a developing roster, but they also added an accomplished All-American and a three-time NCAA Division II National Champion. 

Michalski left his mark on Cedarville by becoming its first men’s national champion in school history after winning the 3000-meter steeplechase in 2017 at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

He owns the Cedarville record times in the 3000-meter steeplechase and as a member of the 4x800-meter relay team.

On the cross-country course, he led Cedarville to a National Christian College Athletic Association title in 2015, where he finished in ninth place individually.  

The former Division II athlete said he came to IU with the intention of competing during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons after sustaining two season-ending injuries at Cedarville. He was told by compliance representatives there was no chance he would run on the cross-country course in 2018. 

Michalski missed the indoor and outdoor track seasons of his senior year at Cedarville due to a metatarsal stress reaction. His injury made him eligible to compete as a member of the track and field team this spring. 

But, he also suffered a tibial stress reaction and participated in only three meets during the cross-country season in his junior year. As a result, Michalski fit the criteria for a medical redshirt, making him eligible to compete this fall. 

By getting the necessary medical documentation together, compliance representatives were able to retrieve a fifth cross-country season for him.

His medical hardship compliance couldn’t have come at a better time. 

He competed unattached in the Miami Opener 8K on Aug. 31, finishing in second place, and also took part in the Pre National meet Oct. 13 in Madison, Wisconsin. 

“It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I found out I would be able to regain that cross-country season,” Michalski said. 

IU Coach Ron Helmer said Michalski's workouts have been fantastic all year. The expectation heading into his first meet was to be a top-two runner for the team, right behind junior Kyle Mau. The two have been training together all season and have led a team with 13 freshmen on its roster. 

“Dan has been training really incredibly well,” Mau said. “Of course, he is really talented, being a Division II national champion in the steeplechase.”

But when it was time to run in his first Division I meet representing IU in Wisconsin, Michalski didn’t live up to the expectations. He was the sixth IU runner to cross the finish line, 85 spots behind Mau in 101st place.

“It just wasn’t his day,” Mau said. “We know going forward in big meets we’re counting on him to be a top-five scorer for us and he’s very much capable of that.” 

Despite struggling in the meet, the fifth-year runner didn’t shy away from his mistakes. With three meets left in the season, Michalski has a chance to prove he can succeed wearing cream and crimson. 

“It was definitely a rust-buster, a little overwhelming, but I was so excited and I still am,” Michalski said. “We’re excited for Big Tens moving forward and I’m definitely going to have a better showing there than I did at the Pre National meet.”

Both the IU men’s and women’s cross-country teams will compete in the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 28 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Michalski’s said this meet would favor his strengths. With only 14 schools in the Big Ten and nine runners per team, the field will be less congested, similar to races at the Division II level.  

"Just knowing who I am as a runner, I think that’s a big part of giving yourself the confidence you need to finish where you belong in a race," Michalski said.

Helmer said he believes Michalski can still be a top-two runner for the team.

“He’s absolutely good enough to help us in a big-time way,” Helmer said. “He’s prepared to do it, so he’s just gotta trust that it’s all going to work out.”

After sports, Michalski plans to finish his graduate degree in applied sports science by December 2019, but right now he has a chance to help the Hoosiers compete for a Big Ten Championship on the cross-country course.

“It was just a really great surprise,” Michalski said. “Maybe even a confirmation of the decision to come here that I was able to get the cross-country season back. I’m really grateful to God for that, and all the people that worked hard to help make it possible.” 

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