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The Carletonian

Senior Spotlight: Donson Cook-Gallardo

<nson Cook-Gallardo ’18, from Moscow, Idaho, has not only established himself as one of the top runners in the MIAC, but as one of the nation’s premier track and field athletes in the mid distance events. Cook-Gallardo is an 8-time MIAC Champion (3 relay, 5 individual) and a 4-time All-American (2x 800m, 1500m, Mile). Apart from excelling on the track, Cook-Gallardo also competes on the Carleton Men’s Cross Country Team, helping his team qualify for nationals in 2014.

Cook-Gallardo’s most impressive collegiate performance came during the 2017 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In a span of 90 minutes, Cook-Gallardo posted two runner up performances, earning All-American status in both the 800m and 1500m run, posting times of 1:51.31 and 3:53.05.

“Leaving nationals with two second place finishes was sweet yet bitter. I had beaten both my seed times in the events, but I was so close to victory in both the 800 and 1500. Being one of two runners to pull off that double, I was happy with my result overall, but it left me hungry for more. My goal next year is to win both the 800 and the 1500,” said Cook-Gallardo. “I like to set my sights up high.”

After missing the Cross Country season in 2016, Cook-Gallardo will rejoin the team in 2017 for his senior season. During his first season as a freshman in 2014, Cook-Gallardo earned MIAC All-Conference and Central Division All-Region honors as he helped propel Carleton to a spot at the national championships. After an outstanding rookie season, Cook-Gallardo’s sophomore season was plagued with injuries, and he was unable to replicate his rookie performance. However, Cook-Gallardo is back and excited to compete in his senior season, setting high goals for both himself and the team. He hopes to win both conference and regionals as an individual and as a team, as well as have a top 5 team finish at nationals.

“We will see if it’s possible, but this is my first cross country season in college with a full, healthy summer of training. We have some talented recruits which will be invaluable to the team this year. Coupled with the return of many runners putting in a lot of work this summer, I think our hard work will pay off,” said Cook-Gallardo.

Despite being one of Carleton’s top cross country runners, Cook-Gallardo proclaims himself as a mid-distance runner first, and a cross country runner second. “I think I’m strong enough at the middle distances that I am still pretty strong at distances above the mile. Although the 8km is ten times my best race distance, I am confident that I can adapt to navigating golf courses as opposed to running in circles on a track. Moreover, I think running cross country makes me a better track runner, as it allows me to build up endurance.”

Reflecting on his college races, Cook-Gallardo’s favorite moments were his double at nationals this past year, receiving the Central Region Athlete of the Year and his four All-American trophies and his three-peat victory in the 1000m at conference against a squadron of St. Olaf runners.

“As a senior, this is my last shot to accomplish a few goals that I have set for myself at the collegiate level,” said Cook-Gallardo on his last year with the Knights. “I would like to break four minutes in the mile and 1:48 in the 800m before I graduate. I would also like to win four national titles by doubling in the Indoor 800m and mile and the Outdoor 800m and 1500m. I believe this is doable barring injuries. Winning Outdoor Conference at home my senior season would be very sweet. Although this will be a tremendous team effort, we have a lot of talent on the team so it is definitely within the realm of possibility. Competing with my brother, Joey Cook-Gallardo ’20 in the 800m at nationals would be amazing. It would also be cool to compete a relay at nationals, but alas, I can’t run all the events, so I probably wouldn’t be on any relay. Lastly, I want to break the Panamanian national records in the 800m (1:48.5s) and the 1500m (3:41.73s). I’ll be running at some competitive meets this year, like the Mt. Sac Relays in California, so I’ll have a few shots to set some big personal records.”

Being a dual citizen of Panama and the United States gives Donson Cook-Gallardo the opportunity to compete for Panama at international events, including potentially the Summer Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. “I am currently talking to the head of the Panamanian Olympic Committee to represent Panama at international Track and Field competitions. I have already qualified for the Central American and Pan American Games in 2019. If I drop my 800 time under 1:48s this year, or within the next 2 years, then running at the Olympics is a strong possibility which I would definitely pursue.”

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