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Love: it’s what makes a Penn runner a Penn runner.

And passion for both school and running is what makes sophomore Elyssa Gensib a model student-athlete. When it comes to academics and athletics, Gensib is not afraid to push her limits.

“I enjoy both school and running,” Gensib said in an email. “When you love what you’re doing, you’re always hungry to do more.”

Coming off a strong freshman year and a successful summer, the sophomore is primed to be a success for Penn. With five kilometer times under 17 minutes and a seventh place finish at the USA Junior Championships, coach Steve Dolan already has high hopes for the young athlete.

“She really wants to see what she’s capable of, she has fun coming down to practice and training and she’s very dedicated,” he said.

Gensib’s attitude on and off the track and coach Steve Dolan’s philosophy for his athletes make for a match made in heaven.

“You come to Penn to get one of the best educations and academics have to be your first priority,” Dolan said. “But after that, we want you to be serious about seeing what your potential is athletically and really going for it with your running.

“Elyssa really is that type of a student-athlete.”

“I feel like the second you tell yourself something isn’t going to happen, you lose the ability to accomplish it,” she said. “As far as running goes, you have to dream big to get better.

“I tend to think about academics the same way.”

And that drive is apparent in Gensib’s ambitions for her career at Penn.

“I wouldn’t say I was entirely satisfied with the first year,” she said. “This year I am more experienced so I can be more prepared going into competitions and the standards that coach [Dolan] and I will set will be higher.”

The timing of Dolan’s arrival to the Penn program and Gensib’s start with the Quakers could not be more ideal. The 2012 season was a first with the Red and Blue for both of them.

“I have a great coach with tons of experience in bringing athletes to the next level,” she said.

Gensib’s come a long way, getting her start as a rower in high school. It soon became clear over the course of high school that her future would lie in running.

“We had to run two miles every day at the beginning of practice,” she said. “I started off pretty slow, but I just didn’t find it as painful as most people did … I made the switch simply because it was what I was better at.”

It’s clear that she knew what she wanted even at a young age.

“It was one of the best decisions of my life,” she continued. “I can’t imagine life without it.”

And her maturity carried over, certainly not going unnoticed here at Penn.

“She’s only a sophomore but I almost feel like she’s one of our team leaders already,” Dolan said.

“I’m expecting big things from her.”


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