For the Penn cross-country teams, hope has arrived in the form of an old foe.
After spending eight years guiding the archrival Princeton Tigers men’s cross-country team, Steve Dolan has taken over as the newly minted director of Cross Country and Track and Field for both the Penn men and women.
Dolan’s track record as Princeton’s coach is staggering. During his tenure, Dolan produced 21 different All-Americans and 32 Ivy League individual cross country champions, including Olympic steeplechase finalist Donn Cabral.
The Quakers were constantly looking up at Princeton during team competition as well — under Dolan, the dominant Tigers won five of the last six Ivy League Heptagonal championships.
Though the Red and Blue struggled last season — especially the men, who finished dead last at Heptagonals — Dolan is brimming with enthusiasm.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “Having coached eight years at Princeton gives me a real feel for that Ivy League athlete in terms of the recruiting, the coaching, the demands academically, and how it works … and so I bring my experience from the program there, here at Penn.”
In addition to his years of success at Princeton, Dolan also brings experience coaching at the highest level of all: the Olympic Games.
Guided by Dolan, Donn Cabral dominated the Ivy League cross-country circuit before finishing eighth in the 3000-meter steeplechase finals in London.
For Dolan, the experience coaching on athletics’ biggest stage was invaluable.
“That was really a dream come true,” he said. “One of the fun things … is that you get to recruit someone in high school at 17, 18 … then to watch them take that step and set a new goal and achieve it is pretty exciting.”
Though the Red and Blue certainly boast talented upperclassmen, with standouts such as George Dickson and Leslie Kovach anchoring their respective teams, much of the excitement around Dolan’s hire revolves around the long-term status of the program.
With Dolan’s recruiting skills well documented, an optimistic attitude and thoughts of a bright future surround the Red and Blue.
The road there, however, will be neither easily nor quickly traveled, and patience is emphasized.
“There’s a lot of challenges ahead and a lot of work to be done,” Dolan said. “Distance running doesn’t happen quickly.
“But we hope in the weeks and months to come to keep getting better and better.”