Two Danilovitzs have been better than one for the Riverside cross country team.
Freshman Daniel Danilovitz and his sophomore sister Lacey have been running up front all season for the Vikings. They have finished first in each of their four Lackawanna League Division III races this season.
“They’re like machines. They never shut off, those two,” Riverside coach Jared Godlewski said. “They’re always wanting to do extra, put in the extra work. Any coach will take that when kids want to put in the extra work to get better.”
Running is in the Danilovitzs’ blood. Their mom, Kris (Kelly) Danilovitz, along with her twin sister, Kim, were District 2 standout runners at Pittston Seton Catholic who both went on to shine in cross country and track at Penn State University from 1991-95.
Lacey said her mom is a big inspiration. Daniel agrees.
“My mom has been a great help. She’s always giving me advice,” Daniel said. “I’m very happy and lucky to have her as a mom.”
Their father, Jeff, also runs and has competed in various 5K races as well as the Steamtown Half Marathon.
Daniel began his running career in sixth grade and spent the past two seasons on the Riverside junior high team. Last year, he set course records at Delaware Valley (11:05, 1.97 miles), Western Wayne (11:46, 2.05 miles) and McDade Park in Scranton (10:49, 1.95 miles).
Joining the varsity team this season, Daniel seems to have adjusted well to the longer distances. He ran winning times of 16:55 against Lakeland, 17:04 against Mid Valley, 17:30 against Western Wayne and 17:07 against West Scranton. His average margin of victory is 29 seconds.
“He’s running better times than I originally thought,” Godlewski said. “I’m very pleased with the hard work he put in during the offseason. He’s adapted well moving up to the varsity and the seniors kind of took him under their wing to help him out.”
Lacey, meanwhile, plays basketball and softball, but always ran on the side to stay in shape. So she decided to give cross country a try.
“Because of COVID, my softball season got canceled,” Lacey said. “I really wanted to compete. My parents would drive (Daniel) to practice, so I figured I’d give it a shot.”
She is glad she did.
Her first race, she set a school record, running 19:51 against Lakeland. She lowered the mark to 19:46 against West Scranton. Her average margin of victory is 2 minutes, 21 seconds.
“I enjoy it a lot. I’m happy I get to do it with my brother,” Lacey said. “I’m surprised. I work really hard at practice, but I never expected it to turn out like this.
“I’ve definitely gotten more competitive than I was when we first started the season.”
Having his sister on the team has been enjoyable for Daniel.
“We haven’t been on the same team many times before, only in soccer,” he said. “She’s kind of pushed me along as well. I’m glad she decided to join the team. For her first year, it’s insane how she’s finished first in all of the races. She’s a great addition to the team.”
Both runners said they hope to improve their times with an eye on the District 2 Championships later this month.
“I hope to do well at districts,” Lacey said. “I’m not sure about states, but I’m certainly going to try.”
Since the Danilovitzs are underclassmen, the future certainly looks bright for Riverside.
“It makes the other kids try harder to try to catch up to those two,” Godlewski said. “It sets the bar higher.”
During more than 30 years at The Times-Tribune, Scott has covered everything from high schools to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. His current beats include motor sports, local colleges, high school cross country and high school baseball. He also is a copy editor and page designer. His articles have won awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Eastern Motorsports Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Keystone Press. He also has been honored by the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and the Minor League Football Alliance. In 2016, he was presented the Media Service Award by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. A Long Island, New York, native, Scott graduated from the University of Scranton in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He lives in Peckville with his wife, Andrea, and daughters, Bridget and Emily. Contact him at email@example.com; 570-348-9100, x5109; or @swalshTT on Twitter