by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Daniel Szucs love of soccer comes naturally as his father Sandor Szucs, played a few years of professional soccer with the Toronto Blizzard back in the 1990s'.
Daniel, 17, would play Tier I soccer in Red Deer, Alberta from ages 11-to-15.
But in Grade 10, the Lacombe, Alberta native found a new passion, cross-country running.
"I got 42nd at the Alberta Schools' Athletic Association (ASAA) cross-country provincials and then I started to take the sport more seriously," recalls Szucs, who represented Lacombe Composite High School Rams.
His best finish in high school cross country would be a ninth last year at the ASAA finals.
He would also place fourth in the 3,000 metres and eight in the 1,500 m distance in Grade 11
But that was then and this is now.
Now, as in last Saturday September 8, 2018, where Szucs placed fourth in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Running Room Grand Prix #1 8 kilometre run held n Edmonton and hosted by the Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder.
The 5-foot-10 Szucs, wearing the Red Deer College Kings jersey (enrolled first year in Business Administration General) clocked a respectable 29:39.
SAIT Trojans took the top three spots with Matt Travaglini, 26:16; Jacques Saayman, 28:16 and Brant Lauwryssen at 29:05 on a run that was described in a ACAC media release as: "The course featured a 3 km loop and a 2 km loop containing a mixture of hard packed gravel, grass and dirt trails. The slight overcast, 10-15 degree weather proved to be a worthy challenge."
Szucs placed 17th overall in open field of 57 men, which had 32 ACAC runners registered.
For the rookie Szucs, it was the first time running a 8 km distance...moving up from the traditional 5 km.
"This year I have been doing longer training runs than in the past. At (Grand Prix #1) I went out a bit too hard, so that hurt me at the end. I was with them (SAIT runners) for 5k and then by 6k they were too far ahead and I tried to stay decently close to them.
"I learned that you have to save more and run more conservatively. It was my first ever 8k and I was proud how I did."
Szucs, who continues to dabble in soccer while also finding time for downhill skiing and wake boarding, said he is looking forward to the ACAC indoor track season where he will probably enter the 1500 and 3000.
"Growing up I was never a sprinter," admits Szucs. "I always felt more comfortable and tended to do better at the longer distances.
"I am still fairly new to the sport (of cross country). Starting in Grade 10, I did not know how far this would take me. I used it to stay in shape for soccer and as I got better I started to focus more on it."