Running to Division I: Former CESJDS runner Daniel Weiss became the first JDS student to join a Division I running roster

The moment Cornell cross country coach Mike Henderson told Daniel Weiss (‘18) he made the varsity cross country team was not an ordinary one. The announcement was made to the whole team, and afterward, the room went wild. It took 18 months of hard work and perseverance to achieve this milestone, but Weiss is now officially the first CESJDS student to ever join a Division I running roster.

Before going to college, Weiss had his final and most successful cross country season at JDS in 2017. That year, he not only led the boy’s team to win their fourth consecutive PVAC banner, but also carried JDS to its first state championship in spectacular fashion. In the opening stretch of the race, Weiss lost his shoe. Instead of giving up, he persevered through 20-degree weather and ran five kilometers to place second in the race, leading the team to victory.

Throughout his childhood and running career, Weiss suffered from arthritis, making excelling in high school running an even greater feat. Because of this complication throughout his running career, he occasionally had to take time off to travel to receive treatments such as shots for his knee.

Although he was successful in high school despite his physical struggles, after graduating, the cards were stacked against him. It became evident in his freshman year that there was much progress to be made before making the Cornell team after Weiss came up short in a time trial in the fall of 2018.

After not qualifying for the team, Weiss joined as a manager in order to keep training. Although hopeful that he would join the team in the spring of 2019, Weiss again came up short. After this setback, he continued to train after class and late at night. Fitting in training with an already busy schedule was a formidable challenge, but Weiss stuck with it.

When making the team seemed nearly impossible after Cornell recruited an impressive freshman class, Weiss finally got called to join the team during the fall of his sophomore year.

The main difference between JDS and Cornell was the level of competitiveness. Before graduating, Weiss had been the captain for his team and a leader on and off the field, but the transition to college athletics forced him to go about running with a different mindset.

“I went from being the best runner on the JDS team to one of the last runners on the Cornell team, …but I actually [like] it because it gives me people to chase after, which is the best way to improve,” Weiss said.

Earning a spot on the Cornell team took time, effort and perseverance, but the journey started with Weiss’ work ethic and passion in high school. Throughout his time coaching Weiss, JDS’ head cross country coach Jason Belinkie watched Weiss grow into a leader for the team.

“[Weiss] is one of the most dedicated, passionate and consistent runners I have ever coached. Those attributes, combined with his incredible grit, have led him to tremendous success in running and in so many other facets of his life,” Belinkie said.

While the last couple of months have been filled with changes to his life, Weiss has settled into a steady rhythm on the team, finding a balance between three hours of training each day and school work.

“[Cross country] helps set up your day. It is the part I look forward to. I live in a house with all the other guys on the team, and it’s really truly relaxing sometimes,” Weiss said.

This story was featured in the Volume 37, Issue 3 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on November 21, 2019.