When Mary Daniel runs, she feels close to her father. The Lakeside senior is on the school’s cross country team, which placed second in the state in 2012 and first in 2011.
“It’s kind of a connection to my dad,” she said.
During an eighth-grade track meet, she received the news that her father had died suddenly. “He was an airline pilot overnighting in Kalispell,” she recalled. “He went out on a run and had a heart attack. He was training for Bloomsday.”
She struggled to make sense of a world without her dad. “It was a weird time,” she said. “I tried to go back to school and act like nothing happened. None of my friends could understand what I was going through.”
Daniel hadn’t planned to run cross country in high school: “The longer distance made me chicken out.”
But her physical science teacher, Steve Olson, encouraged her to try it. He’d been her track and field coach as well.
Olson said Daniel has other talents besides running. “She’s a 4.0 student, extremely reliable and a hard worker. She’s the top-performing calculus and physics student in the school.”
Science wasn’t always her favorite subject. “I loved English and wanted to be a writer,” Daniel said. “But last year I got interested in science. I’m thinking of becoming a pharmacist.”
Olson said students and faculty both like her as a chemistry peer tutor.
She plans to attend Washington State University like her older sister, with a major in biochemistry.
When interviewed, Daniel was busy training for Bloomsday. “My life’s goal has been to break an hour in Bloomsday like my dad,” she said.
Whether she’s running or studying or hanging out with friends, her dad is never far from her thoughts. As she prepares for graduation she reflected about what he might say if he were here. “I think he would say, ‘Good going!’ I think he would be proud.”