Danielle Jensen poses for a photo after her successful season. This season Jensen competed at State after placing 15th in sectionals and having great successes in the races prior to sectionals. (Mackenzie Sroka)
Danielle Jensen poses for a photo after her successful season. This season Jensen competed at State after placing 15th in sectionals and having great successes in the races prior to sectionals.

Mackenzie Sroka

Running into success

Cross country athlete Danielle Jensen races for the title at the IHSA State Final Meet

November 17, 2021

As Danielle Jensen crossed the finish line during the sectional cross country race, hoping that her time and place was good enough for her to be able to go to state this year. When her breath slows she is greeted with the news that she was in the top 15 and will be traveling to State.

While Jensen was running the sectional race, she prepared herself mentally for the chance of going to state. Even though she had a very good chance of going to state, it was difficult to believe that it was actually going to happen. 

“That was sort of shocking, but I also sorted a knew because when I was running it. Mr. Horace told me that like top 15, you’re pretty much gonna make it. I was pretty sure I was gonna make it when I finished the race,” explained Jensen.

Jensen ended up finishing 15th in sectionals and moved on to compete in the state race. This was a great accomplishment that affected not only her, but her coach.

“It has been a rewarding part of the season because she has really earned her success.” The girls varsity coach Kevin Horst says, “It is satisfying when the hardest workers have positive reinforcement for their dedication.” 

Heading into the race for state, Jensen had a personal goal that she wanted to accomplish in the season, but had not yet. 

“I was trying to beat my record because I really wanted to get into the 17 second range because I hadn’t done that yet,” explained Jensen.

With this goal in mind, Jensen prepares mentally for the race ahead of her.

“I just envision the race ahead and almost in my head run the race. Then just know when it is going to get hard and when to push through,” explained Jensen. 

In the state race Jensen had accomplished this goal with a time of 17:45. 

“It was really exciting because that was my goal for the whole season. So that was a big accomplishment,” exclaimed Jensen.

As Jensen looks into the future of her running career, she has created big goals for herself.

“I really want to get the number one time of the school, I really want to beat Lauren,” described Jensen, “She has the record, but it’s like 17:10 or something close to that. So it’s quite a ways down but I feel like my senior year it’s possible.”

In the following years Jensen also hopes to go to state again and get an even better time there. 

When her coach Horst looks into Jensen’s future, he hopes that it is bright and she will continue to succeed.

“The future is always uncertain for distance runners, so my hope is that she continues to stay healthy and is able to train and race the way that she loves to. With consistent training, she will no doubt be a force in the regional track & cross country scene for the next few years,” explained Horst.

In the following seasons, Horst not only hopes for her to continue to run with success, he hopes she will become a leader.

 “She will be a junior next season so the other girls on the team will be looking for her to take on more of a leadership role,” described Horst. 

Jensen’s hard work and determination brought her to state and the team is hopeful that she will continue to grow as a runner. With her success this year she is hopeful that in the future she will be able to accomplish her future goals. As her teammates watched her grow and go to state, they have become inspired putting Jensen into a future leadership role. 


About the Contributor
Photo of Mackenzie Sroka
Mackenzie Sroka, Sports Editor
Mackenzie Sroka is a sophomore at McHenry High School's Upper Campus. She enjoys spending time with friends and in nature, traveling, and photography. This is Mackenzie's second year on the Messenger's staff.


“Coming home” (JEA)

“Gallery: Volleyball Veterans Night” (JEA)

"Hybrid continues strong despite challenges" (IJEA)

"Basketball teams start season Wednesday" (IJEA)

"One year later" (Best of SNO)

"Becoming one" (Best of SNO)