mark_danielsOver the years, Salem Community High School has developed a reputation for producing great distance runners. A lot of that tradition began with 1973 graduate Mark Daniels.

Daniels set a lot of distance standards for Wildcats track and cross country, some of which still stands.

Daniels still holds the school track record in both 1600 meter at 4:16.6 and the 3200 meters at 9:21.6.

He was a state qualifier in both of those events. During his junior season, Daniels was fifth at the state meet in the 3200 meters when he set his school record time of 9:21.6. As a senior, Daniels finished eighth at the state meet in the 1600 meters with a time of 4:23.

Daniels also set an NEC record in the 3200 meters, which has since been broken.

In cross country Daniels was a two-time state qualifier in 1971 and 1972. During his career he won an NEC championship and a district championship. His fourth place finish at the 1972 sectional meet was Salem’s highest until Ryan Boyles finished second in 1994.

Some honors Daniels received in high school included: Outstanding Runner Award as a sophomore, junior and senior, South Central Illinois Track & Cross Country Coaches Recognition Award and B.E. Gum Track Award as a junior and senior. Daniels is also a member of the Amateur Athletic Union.

After high school, Daniels turned down offers to run at Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas State, Yale and Columbia. Instead he opted to attend United States Military Academy at West Point. He continued his running career with the Cadets as a freshman and sophomore before a knee injury ended his athletic career. Daniels later attended Campbell University and Harvard.

Daniels was promoted to full Colonel in April 1999. He currently works for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton in Washington, D.C.