DWIGHT – She ran her first competitive course just 71 days ago, yet Dwight native and Gardner-South Wilmington cross country freshman Daly Galloway already has made her mark on the sport.
With just a track and field history to fall back on, Galloway has transformed quite well to a long-distance racer.
“I started running in the sixth grade, though I didn’t really think much of it at the time. I always thought I was going to be a softball player, so I was just trying to get in shape,” she said. “Then I got pretty good at [running] and just stuck with it. I feel like running is much more of a passion with me.”
Right away, Galloway had success as a runner.
“I went to state my sixth- grade year in track [mile and 800] and I was really getting better at it,” Galloway said. “Then seventh grade rolled around and I got fourth at state, that’s when I decided to stick with it. It was then that I thought I could do better at this than most other sports.”
In eighth grade Galloway was third in the mile and fourth in the 800 for Dwight Elementary School.
“After that was when I started thinking about going out for cross country and sticking with running,” she said. “Our grade school didn’t have cross country.”
Larry Lane is Daly’s cross country coach through the co-op between GSW and Dwight. He also is the head track coach at Dwight High School, so he already knew about Galloway before the fall began.
“I am the high school track coach here in Dwight and I go and watch the future of my program in action,” he said. “I like to see the kids compete, to meet them and talk to some of the parents. It’s a chance for me to get to know them and them to get to know me.”
Lane said not just anyone can make the kind of transition from track to cross country the way Galloway has.
“It depends on how good you are. Anybody can run cross country if they have put their mind to it,” he said. “But the better the distance runner you are in grade school, more than likely that will indicate the success you are going to have ahead of you.”
Lane said he has helped teach Galloway the same way he’s instructed all of the others through the years.
“This is the same with all of the kids. I have a philosophy on how to run a three-mile race and we’ve talked a lot about that,” Lane said. “She needs to know how to race smartly, as well. That’s what she’s probably learned the most this year – how to even out the energy level.”
That was apparent right from the onset of the season. Running in her first competitive cross country race ever at the Morris Early Bird Invite in August, Galloway was sprinting hard out of the woods at the back of MCHS and cruised to a second-place finish.
“I got second. I was ecstatic,” Galloway said of that first race. “I was going for a top 15 or top 20 performance and I came away with second. I was really happy because right away I found out my limits.”
And a steady philosophy.
“The philosophy is that she can’t win the race in the first half-mile, but she can lose it,” Lane said. “She needs to run smartly in the first half-mile so that she has something for the second mile of the race and then on into the finish.
“The last half mile this year has been as good as anybody she’s raced against this year. It was that day in Morris, too. She didn’t catch that girl from L-P [Lesley Rocha] but she was 10 seconds behind with a half-mile to go and lost by eight. So, technically she finished faster. She’s really good in the last half-mile.”
Galloway has been at the top of every race board ever since. That includes winning a regional title and finishing second in sectional action.
“She was a little nervous at the sectional meet and it showed, but it didn’t affect her race overall,” Lane said. “Even if she hadn’t been nervous, she wouldn’t have caught [Victoria Bianco] from [Chicago] Latin. She was on fire. That was her day. Daly finished second over a tough course to a girl who finished ninth last year at state.”
Lane thinks if everything goes well Saturday that anyone who hasn’t heard of Galloway to this point will have after that 9 a.m. race.
“She wants to do very well and she’s looking forward to racing down there with a lot of people that she knows,” he said. “She’s a 4.0 student and she’s into the sport really strongly already as a freshman. She knows the names of all the other girls from the other regionals and sectionals, what they run like and how fast they are. She’s anxious to get a shot at them.”
So, what’s a realistic finish for her on Saturday?
“Anywhere between seventh and 20th. That’s a big window but it will depend on how well she does and how well some of the other people do,” Lane said. “I’d guess somewhere in there. Her fastest time would have put her about 12th or 13th last year. The good thing is that her fastest time was run at Detweiller (18:02) and she just ran that three weeks ago. She’s also fresher now and I think she’s got one more really solid race left in her.”
One race this year – not to mention what she’s capable of in the future.
“I’m a go-getter,” Galloway said. “I like to chase after things and push myself hard. I’m pretty hard on myself, so I like to push myself hard. By the time I’m a senior I’d like to break 17 minutes.”