Sophomore distance runner Daniel Garcia of Barcelona, Spain, broke records, won races, qualified for nationals, earned honors, and dazzled spectators throughout both the cross country and track and field seasons.




Named the 2016 Cardinal Stritch University Male Student-Athlete of the Year in recognition of his dominating performances, Garcia started the cross country season as Stritch’s first-ever first place individual finisher, crossing the finish line 14 seconds before the second-place runner and setting a new school record in the 8K (26:07).




“I am very happy to compete in a Stritch jersey,” Garcia said after that race. “It meant a lot for me to win for my family.”




He later went on to win the Wisconsin Private School Championship, breaking his own record with an 8K time of 25:50, a full minute in front of the second-place finisher.




His third cross country run came at the NAIA Seminole Valley Stampede, hosted by Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he set both a new course and new school record with a time of 25:00.




In his next race, Garcia ran with an injury, finishing fourth, which qualified him for the NAIA National Championship race. His top-10 finish is a first for Stritch at a conference championship race, although he’s the third national qualifier from the University. The last runner to qualify was in 1996.

Garcia carried his momentum right into the track season, which began with pre-season meets in December. His first competition at the Grand Valley State University Holiday Open set the tone for the indoor season with a win in the mile (4:10:55) and an automatic bid for the NAIA Indoor National Championships.




Other indoor highlights included a second bid for the national indoor tournament with a time of 8:40:40 in the 3,000 meter event, which broke a school record. He also posted wins in the 800 (1:56:7) at UW-Parkside in February; wins and personal bests in the 800 (1:52:38) and mile (4:05:82, fastest in the NAIA at that time) at the Grand Valley State University Meet in Allendale, Michigan; and a win in the 1000m at the Olivet Nazarene University Qualifier, which qualified him for nationals at the “A” standard. He capped off the indoor season as a national champion in the 1000m race, setting a new school record at 2:28.12, being named one of the Men’s Most Valuable Performers at the meet, scoring 18.5 points for the team by also finishing second in the mile (4:16.97), and earning All American status.




"Dani Garcia is an amazing young man, as only a sophomore, he has yet to reach his full potential," Athletic Director Dr. Tim Van Alstine said. "Winning an indoor national championship and earning his second All-America honor is without doubt a terrific accomplishment. I'm truly pleased and proud of Dani, Coach Pearson, and our entire track and field program."


The outdoor season brought more accolades and highlights, including: 1500m win (3:56.52) at the Butler T&F Opener, qualifying for nationals at the Raleigh Relays in the 1500m with a school record time of 3:46.44, marking the fastest time in the NAIA at the time; and new school records in the 1500m (3:44.23) and the 800m (1:52.02) at the Mt. Sac Relays.




Garcia then went on to set new meet records at the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference meet on May 9, winning the 1500 meter and 800 meter with times of 3:52:89 and 1:54:89, respectively. Both performances earned him all-conference honors.




In May, Garcia along with teammate Phoenix Miller of Nassau, Bahamas, who captured a 2015 indoor national championship in the 400m event, traveled to Gulf Shores, Alabama, to represent Stritch at the NAIA National Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Ranked first in the nation for the 1500 meter with a seed time of 3:44:23 and number two in the 800 meter with a seed of 1:50:38, Garcia concluded his stunning season with a 3rd place finish in the 1500m (3:53:60) – finishing less than a second behind the winner – and a 5th place finish in the 800m (1:51:19), less than two seconds behind the winner. That performance along with Miller’s 8th place finish in the 400m earned both men honors as All-Americans.