All Dec'd Out - An Interview

(Photo provided by Declan Dahlberg)

How do you pronounce your name?

Declan Dahlberg - "Deck-lin" "Doll" (as in a doll you would play with) "berg" (as in iceberg).  In terms of nicknames only my mom calls me Dec (pronounced "Deck") and when I was younger my siblings called me Jenny and Snowplow (I couldn't tell you why! Jenny made me mad, and snowplow was what my older brother wanted to name me).

Personal Bests:

400: 52

800: 2:00 (4x800 split, haven't run open eight since eighth grade)

1600: 4:23

3200: 9:48 

5K: 15:56

High Jump: 4'10''

Long Jump: 19'6''

Tell us about the state cross country meet where you won by less than half a second over Matt Steiger of LaCrescent, and Carl Kozlowski of Lake City.

Cross country state this year was pretty exciting. Going into the race my coach and I knew that the winning time would probably have to be sub-16 and coming down the finishing stretch I was a little freaked out because I generally like to put some distance between me and the rest of the runners when I start my kick, but in this case I hadn't gained any ground. I didn't black out at the end, but I was very dizzy and confused, mostly because I was in shock that I had actually won! I remember one of the officials was trying to pick me up and move me and I was mumbling incoherently to myself saying something along the lines of, "Oh my gosh, what just happened." It was really an incredible feeling to win. I put a lot of work into my training starting right after track state of 2016, and was dealing with some emotional challenges as well throughout the season. There was a sense of relief after I won because I knew then that it had all been worth it.

Who are your main coaches?

Daniel Ethier is our head cross-country coach and both him and Coach Docherty are absolutely instrumental in what I have been able to accomplish. They both were (and still are) incredibly talented runners and they have a fantastic training plan for me, but I think perhaps even more important than that is that they trust me to make decisions about, for example days off, paces on intervals, and strategies for races. They are both a fantastic blend between being a coach and a friend. I was not in cross country when our team was runner-up in 2013. My brother was the captain of that team, however I was still playing soccer. Seeing them do so well and get to stand up on the stage at St. Olaf definitely made me eager to set out to accomplish something similar!

How do you train?

During the summer I train mostly on my own, and sometimes with my good friend Matthew Bourne. My training week generally looks like the following:

Monday: Interval workout w/ weights after

Tuesday: Recovery run

Wednesday: Tempo run

Thursday: Interval workout w/ weights

Friday: Distance run

Saturday: Recovery

Sunday: Recovery or sometimes rest-day

Total Mileage: 60-70 miles/week

My coaches and I intentionally do a lot of speed work, especially in season which I feel is critical to closing speed and can really be the difference between 1st and 2nd in the last 200 meters. I do nordic skiing during the winter which is good cross-training and a good rest for my knees!

What makes your school special?

Mounds Park Academy is a very unique school. It is a pre-K through 12 small private school with around 500 students in total. What really sets it apart is that it is all one campus and students interact across all grade levels. Specifically for sports, teams include students from 6th grade all the way through 12th, and I remember being able to look up to and learn from the older runners when I was in middle school. The varsity team isn't some separate unattainable group for young runners, but rather the more experienced athletes who train right along side beginners while offering support and advice. Similar to grade-level integration, the incredible work of our AD Joe Kordosky (who is deservedly retiring at the end of this year) further enhances the athletic experience at MPA. 'Kordo' (as we all call him) is as much an AD as he is a friend, and he works tirelessly to ensure that we are participating in competitive events, have the resources we need, and takes the time to come to our events whether they are -10 degree nordic races or 90 degree track ones.

Why are you also doing field events?

I usually high jump every year at true team because I can clear the starting height and get a couple points for the team. Long-jump was a new thing this year I wanted to try just for fun at our little home meet and my 19' 6'' was my second time jumping. I'll do it again at true team on Tuesday, but will be focusing on my mile and two mile (provided that I don't come close to the 21'4'' qualifying mark) for the championship races towards the end of the season.

(Photo provided by Declan Dahlberg)

MPA recently won the conference championship in the 4 X 1600 relay with Lukas Lindgren, Tanner Kozen, Matthew Bourne, and yourself running.  Does this indicate future success for your school in the distance races?

The future looks bright!! Matthew Bourne has grown exponentially from where he was at the end of track last year and become a fantastic athlete. Lukas has been our fearless leader, and a great friend for the last four years (our loss is St. Olaf's gain!), and Tanner came to the track team from baseball and has proved to be an incredible asset to our team. We are hoping to qualify our team for cc state next year and we have a lot of really young middle schoolers who in four years will be far beyond where we are now. I was a captain for cc this year, and will be a cc, nordic, and track captain next year.

Give us your goals for the future.

My goals for this year are to win the mile and two mile at state this year, hopefully bringing my times down to around 4:15 and 9:10 respectively. Looking ahead I hope to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals next fall. In a perfect world I'd like to graduate with six-state titles next year.

Do you follow any collegiate or professionals on social media?

I follow Mo Farah, Centrowitz, Jenkins, Mason Ferlic (MPA Alum!) and many others on Instagram. It's fairly disheartening to see Centro running a 3x1600 workout at 4:01, 4:01, 3:59 but at the same time pretty inspiring.

In general what is your race strategy?

I've been running some of my early season races for time this year so my strategy has generally been to know my splits and try to stay as close to them as I can, however for the championship races such as State I try to run to win. I think I've balanced out my endurance training and speed training well so I can run a hard honest race if need be, however I generally like to sit behind the leader and rely on my kick in the last 400. 

Ultimately what will be your best distance?

I still am not sure about what my best distance is or will be. To be honest I could see myself running 1500s or 10ks in college. If I had to choose right now I think my mile is probably my strongest race because of the work I've put in to improve my speed. My personal goal is to run D1 after graduation. 

Do you have a warmup routine?

To warm-up I like to go for an easy 10-15 minute jog while listening to my pr-race music. I then do sprint-drills, put on my blue Nike headband, dump some water on my head, and head to the starting line! I also keep two pictures in my pocket before every race for inspiration; one of my sister and I after cc state, and another of my girlfriend and I.