Prep of the Year Honorable Mention: Daegan Cutter

Ingrid Houtkooper

Despite being the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) 2022 Cross Country (XC) Runner of the Year, 2023 MCAL Track Runner of the Year, and captain of his team for two years, Daegan Cutter did not begin developing his skill until freshman year when he started running for Redwood. Over the course of his four years in high school, Cutter has excelled on both the XC and track teams speed-wise, and has also formed numerous friendships that he credits to the time spent with his teammates. 

“I came to Redwood from St. Anselm’s, a tiny private school, so I didn’t really know anyone. [XC was] how I made my friends. [The team] was kind of my stepping stone into Redwood. I didn’t [originally] take it quite as seriously as I have in the last couple of years, [but] I was always pretty committed and liked it,” Cutter said. 

After freshman year, Cutter’s mindset quickly grew determined to motivate himself and his teammates to keep pushing themselves. This natural inclination to help his teammates also factored into his role as captain of the team.

Sprinting ahead, Cutter focuses intently on the finish line. (Photo Courtesy of Daegan Cutter)

“I definitely think the team motivates itself. People know what they have to be doing. But I think what’s important is trying to get the team to be fast and doing that by leading by example,” Cutter said. “Redwood has had a [big year]; we’ve gotten so much faster. And I think, just within our senior class, having a bunch of motivated people has been a good thing for the [entire] team because we’ve grown a culture of giving it your all, and that leads to success.” 

While the team environment might be Cutter’s favorite part of running, he also emphasized his own personal drive to keep improving his speed every race. 

“In football, you win or you lose, right? Fifty percent chance. [In running], I don’t win that many [big] races because there are hundreds of people. In two of my best races, [I came in] 30th and 19th,” Cutter said. “I really like the personal aspect. If you’re running, you’re [trying to] beat yourself; you’re running faster than you ever have before. That’s really exciting and makes me feel good.”

Although Cutter says you don’t have to win, he continues to push his own athletic boundaries to break his personal records. On May 13, 2023, at the North Coast Sectionals (NCS) track meet, Cutter broke his 1600 meter time, earning a 4 minute 15 second 45 centisecond personal record. Cutter plans to continue to push himself next year while running at Yale University. Cutter’s teammate Ethan Werner says the team was very enthusiastic for him when they heard about his commitment, and not at all surprised by his success.  

“We were so stoked. [Commiting is] just such a big accomplishment, so we were just pumped for him. He’s so smart, and he’s so fast. We all thought he could go literally anywhere he wanted,” Werner said. 

Beyond his athletic success, Cutter continued to mention the camaraderie he had with his teammates and the importance they played in his running and high school career. This tight-knit community was also emphasized by Werner. 

“From what I’ve heard, a couple of years ago, [the team] wasn’t that close. It was kind of a free for all,” Werner said. “It’s a team now, an actual family. And Daegan has played a big role in that. He has made our team a family.”