Danny Conlisk once fancied himself a distance runner. No more.
Conlisk now hangs out with fast company.
The Coupeville senior and a handful of teammates are currently at the state 1A track meet, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.
Conlisk qualified in three events and is among the state’s fastest 1A sprinters. Going into the state meet, Conlisk owns the fastest time in the 200 meters (22.2) and the second fastest in the 100 (11.04) and 400 (50.13).
Micah Holmes of Lakeside (Nine Mile) leads the list in the 100 (11.01), and Cody Vollan of Elma holds the best 400 mark (49.93).
This is not where Conlisk expected to be three years ago. As a sophomore, he and Henry Wynn began the push to form a cross country team at Coupeville. Conlisk said at the time his goal was to break Tyler King’s school records. King, who went on to run for the University of Washington, holds the CHS marks in the 800 (1:55.34) and 1,600 (4:12.97). Conlisk did go on to break school records, just not King’s.
As Conlisk’s career progressed at Coupeville, he moved from long distance to middle distance races, then eventually to sprints.
“When I was in the eighth grade, I ran the 100 and 200 but was best at mile (1,600),” he said. “When I got to high school, the coaches stuck me in the mile.”
Coupeville track coach Randy King, Tyler’s father, said when Conlisk entered high school, he was one of only a few distance runners on a team with numerous sprinters. Conlisk was, therefore, “a valuable contributor,” King said, in scoring team points in the longer events.
As an eighth-grader, Conlisk won every 1,600 race he entered, including the Cascade Conference middle school championship. He placed fifth in both the 100 and 200 finals.
As a ninth-grader, he concentrated on the 800 and 1,600. He did run a couple of shorter races but never finished better than third.
He went on to win the Olympic League 800 title and finished 17th in the state meet. He was fifth in the 1,600 at the league meet.
The following year, he did not run the 100 and competed in only one 200. He, however, did drop down to the 400 where he excelled.
Conlisk finished first in the Olympic League meet in the 400 and placed fifth at state. He also defended his conference 800 title and went on to finish 12th at the state meet.
“He has great running form as a distance runner and good aerobic capacity, but we could not find a way to help him get much below five minutes in the mile,” King said. “His junior year we switched our focus to the 400 meters, thinking that could take advantage of his speed and aerobic capabilities.”
As a junior, Conlisk rarely ran anything shorter than a 400. He again collected the Olympic League crown in the event and took second at state.
Last summer he trained with the Kitsap Fliers Track and Field Club and took third in the regional Junior Olympic Meet and 60th in the nation in the 400.
“At the end of my junior year, I started running the 200 and found out I was pretty good at it,” Conlisk said. “It just kind of happened; it wasn’t want I set out to do.”
This spring, his script flipped. He ran only one race over 400 meters and began to dominate the shorter sprints.
“This year we broadened out our perspective once again and experimented with the shorter races,” King said. “By developing his start and continuing to increase his closing abilities, he has transformed himself into a contender for an exciting finish to his high school track career.”
Conlisk became the 200- and 400-meter North Sound Conference, district and bi-district champion, and was second in the league 100 but went on to win the event at district and bi-district.
He also set school records in the 100 (11.04) and 200 (22.2), breaking Jacob Smith’s, and not Tyler King’s, school standards.
Conlisk’s record in the 100 is all the more remarkable since he ran the distance only four times before the postseason and won only one of those.
During his four years at Coupeville, Conlisk has found success at many distances, including qualifying for the state cross country meet. King noted that assistant coach Neil Rixe said, “It is very rare to find a high school athlete who can run a 5K in 17 minutes and lead the state in the 200 meters.”
King called Conlisk a quite leader, and that leadership comes primarily “from respect of his hard work in practice,” King said. “He has been willing to try all kinds of events, accept coaching and work to be the best.”
Conlisk has formed friendships from across the state through track and his “friendly, humble demeanor,” King said.
“Sometimes he says track is his life, but I think it is an attitude and a practiced philosophy that will lead him to success in all sorts of life’s adventures,” King said.
Conlisk signed a letter of intent to run for South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, a Division II school.
He chose the school because of its size (just 3,000 students) and its emphasis on his planned major, mechanical engineering.
And, the college is fittingly located in Rapid City.