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Big 5 Cross Country Meet. Penn dominated Credit: Michele Ozer , Michele Ozer

While plenty of attention has been paid to the talented underclassmen of Penn women’s cross country, the men’s program boasts some young firepower of its own.

In particular, sophomore Brendan Shearn is poised to help the men’s program take its next step after an impressive body of work this offseason.

Shearn competed this summer at the 2014 USA Junior Track and Field Championships in the 10,000-meter race, and after winning the silver medal, he earned himself a spot on the US World Junior Championship team.

“It was incredible to get the opportunity to go to the Word Championship out in Oregon this summer, and it was great to get to meet people from all over,” Shearn said. “It was also good to get a feel for what it’s like to race some of the best competition in my event for my age group.”

Shearn is just the latest in what has been a series of successful Quakers who have taken part in these games, and coach Steve Dolan hopes that he will not be the last.

“It’s been really neat to see some of our freshman, including Brendan, excel at that USA level, and it’s motivational for the whole team,” Dolan said. “That level of success is just contagious, and it inspires more of our athletes to want to go compete at that level.”

As a freshman, Shearn got plenty of opportunities to compete at the top level last year and had several solid performances during his first semester at Penn.

Last fall, he was the Quakers’ second man to cross the finish line at Pre-Nationals in Indiana and finished 24th overall at last year’s regional championship.

In the spring track season, Shearn signed his name into Penn’s record books by running the fourth-fastest 10,000-meter time in school history. He was also an NCAA qualifier at that same distance.

“He’s got a special talent,” Dolan said. “One of the things that you need to run the long distance races is the resilience to take the training, to be able to mentally and physically hold up with that level of competition, and he has that.”

“I think one of my strong suits is that I’m pretty strong aerobically, and I like mentally locking into a race for that long,” Shearn added. “I’ve always just enjoyed the longer races because I think it shows you how mentally tough you are and not just your physical ability.”

However, coming off an intense offseason of work, Shearn is primed to make an even greater impact this year.

“I was getting in about 80 to 90 miles a week over the summer,” Shearn said. “My season went a lot longer than other people’s, and I had to balance trying to get in maximum miles to get ready for this season while still maintaining some speed for the races.”

The results have already started to pay dividends on the race course. Shearn placed second at Penn’s first competition this year, helping the men’s team sweep the podium at the Big 5 Invitational race.

However, this is likely only the beginning of what we can expect from the sophomore.

“I really want to see us do well at Regionals and Heptagonals this year,” he said. “My goals are all aligned with the team’s goals. If we do well, then that’s all I can ask for.”

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