DANVILLE — The future for distance running at Danville Community High School appears very bright. Current Danville freshman Daniel Gerber and upcoming eighth-grader Jackson Swisher are running in San Antonio, Texas, today after earning the rights to compete in their respective age groups in the USATF Junior Olympics Cross Country Nationals.
Both youths advanced to the National Finals on the strength of qualifying runs made at USATF Junior Olympics Region 7 Championships held at the Northview Church Cross Country Course at Carmel in late November.
Gerber was fourth in the boys' 15- to 16-year-old division, completing his 5K distance in 17:36. Meanwhile, Swisher was also fourth in his division, earning that placement in the boys' 13- to 14-year-old class with a 14:18 time across a 4K distance.
Both youths shared they have only lived in the Danville area for about three years, but their paths to reach this level have been significantly different.
Gerber arrived from Ethiopia, a world-recognized country in distance running, as one of three children from the country adopted at the same time into the family of Katherine and Tim Gerber. The Gerbers started Daniel and his new siblings in running as a means to help keep them active after joining their family and discovered Daniel’s innate ability.
“When we first adopted Daniel and his siblings three years ago, he was used to being outside all of the time,” Tim Gerber said. “The weather then was like today where we had snow come in and stay. So we joined a local fitness center to help keep (the kids) active. Daniel went over to the treadmill and just seemed to run and run and run. He kept on getting faster, and we found he has kind of a natural gift.”
Swisher took up running after his parents, Michael and Karen Swisher, moved to Danville. Swisher’s interest started while running for the middle school program under the tutelage of Mark Callaghan.