Champion on the Rise: Daniela Lee's Unstoppable Journey on the Track
When it comes to dominating the Class B track and field scene, the Colman-Egan girls’ team is setting a new standard of excellence. Their triumphant streak has reached a remarkable third consecutive Class B State Team Track and Field Championship, and at the heart of this fantastic achievement stands senior sprinter Daniela Lee.
For Daniela, athletics has been a lifelong passion. "From a young age, I was drawn to sports and staying active, which naturally led me to the track," she reflects. Her journey began as a seventh-grader when she first qualified for the State Track and Field meet—a feat she has accomplished every year since.
"In my seventh-grade year, I wasn't expecting to go to state, but I was listed as an alternate. I was thrown in unexpectedly, and despite the initial terror, it's where I discovered my love for track and field," Daniela recounts.
But her story goes beyond mere victories on the field; her faith takes precedence in her life. Daniela's college decision, she reveals, hinges on attending a Christian College. "Division One Christian Colleges align with my values," she asserts, emphasizing the importance of an environment that resonates with her faith.
Throughout her decorated career, Daniela has clinched an impressive 10 individual and relay state championships. Last season alone, she triumphed in the 100m, 200m, 4x100 relay, and 4x200 relay. She also earned the gold medal for the fastest 100m time across classes and was crowned Class B MVP.
Despite the challenges, including the absence of a proper track for practice, Daniela remains unfazed. She believes adversity fosters team bonding and strengthens their resolve to excel.
Her goals for the upcoming track season reflect her determination and leadership. "Breaking the 12-second barrier in the 100m is my initial target. Beyond that, I aspire to cultivate a legacy of dominance for our track team, ensuring that our Class B legacy continues beyond our senior year," Daniela explains.
In her pursuit of excellence, Daniela draws inspiration from her unwavering passion for running. "The thrill of reaching my top speed is what propels me forward. Striving to surpass my personal best drives me, and the feeling of hitting my top speed—around 18mph—is exhilarating."
As a volleyball team member, Daniela finds that the two sports complement each other perfectly, enhancing her overall athleticism and conditioning. She opted for the track at the next level, a decision she deemed the right one for her future.
Beyond the track, Daniela embraces her role as a community role model for the youth of Colman. "Leadership is in my blood. Guiding and inspiring others, especially the younger generation, is a passion I cherish. Seeing little girls look up to me is an honor that warms my heart," she expresses.
In Colman's close-knit community, Daniela's leadership shines. The town's rich track legacy is intertwined with her achievements. As reigning Class B Girls 100m champion, Daniela now stands before a pivotal question: Can she shatter the Class B 100m record, set at 11.98? Time will reveal the answer, but one thing is sure: whatever lies ahead, Daniela will approach it with unparalleled passion, love, and lightning speed.
“My first goal is to break 12 seconds in the 100m. I want to break that early to focus on running under 12 seconds for the remainder of the season. The second goal is to grow the track team to continue dominating in Class B after my class and I are gone. Lastly, to finish our senior season with a fourth consecutive Class B team state title.”
I saw Daniela run several times over the last few seasons, and I wondered what makes her so dominant?
“I think it's my passion. I love running; even if it wasn't a competition, I'd still do it because I love reaching my top speed. I’m always striving to get better. It's more about beating my previous time or getting a new personal record. Hitting my top speed also feels good; it’s the best feeling. My top speed is somewhere around 18mph, which is insane.”
Daniela is also a member of the girl's volleyball team, which also helps her prepare for the track and field season.
“It keeps me in shape. I love both sports and went back and forth on whether to play volleyball at the next level or run track, but I think I made the right decision to run track at the next level.”
Being an example in the Colman community for the younger generation is a position Daniela has accepted happily.
“I love it. Leadership has always been a big thing for me. I strive in it, am great with it, and love people. So it's a love and a passion. I have a lot of young people who look up to me, and it's an honor. When I see little girls, and they're like, oh, I wanna run like you, It just warms my heart, and I encourage them to be great.”
Colman is a tight-knit community where you get to know everyone. It’s a small town building a rich legacy on the track and field. Daniela Lee should be celebrated as one of the most outstanding high school track and field athletes in South Dakota history.
Currently, the reigning Class B Girls 100m champion, Daniela, the big question is will she break the Class B 100m record time of 11.98, set in 2009 by Carly Carper of Oldham-Ramona/Rutland, or Erin Kinney of Harrisburg's 2019 100m Girls State record time of 11.85?
Only time will tell, but we know this: whatever she does on the track will be done with passion, love, and at lightspeed.