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Now-sophomore Bronwyn Patterson crosses the finish line in the women's 4x800-meter relay race during last season's Penn Relays at Franklin Field on April 30.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

The Penn track season is almost underway, and Penn coach Steve Dolan already has big plans for his team this year.

Last season, the track team ended the season with numerous victories, scoring four at the Princeton Invitationals, a third consecutive women's title at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, a title at the NCAA Track & Field Championships, and sending six Quakers to compete at the USA and Canada Championships.

Though Marc Minichello — Penn's NCAA T&F javelin champion — has since transferred to the University of Georgia, the Quakers return a host of key pieces from last year's team, including junior sprinter Isabella Whittaker, sophomore distance runner Bronwyn Patterson, senior middle distance runner Zubeir Dagane, and sophomore jumper James Rhoads.

This season, Dolan’s goal remains the same as it did at the end of last year: keep up the momentum and bring home more well-earned victories. 

“We’re just getting started and fall training has been great,” he said. “In terms of team goals, we won an Ivy League Championship in outdoor track, so that’s exciting to see if they can defend that title. Our men’s team was third outdoors at the Ivy League Championships, which is also a strong result, so we always like to be as strong as we can in the Ivy League because this is important to us.”

Dolan's philosophy that he imbues into his team is one of maximizing potential. He tries to understand his athletes' limits, and help them reach and even sometimes exceed them.

Key to that is the comprehension of his team's strengths and weaknesses, and how they set themselves apart from any other.

“Every team has its own personality,” Dolan said. “We’re going to have our first invitational December 9th, and what’s fun with every team is that there are new people. So, we’ve got a whole new freshmen class and a new group of juniors and seniors who are going to lead the team. For me, one of the exciting things is seeing how the personality of the team develops.”

One way Dolan gets a feel for how the personality of the team will develop is by understanding the newer athletes that are joining, and seeing where they fit in in each event in order to create that well-rounded roster.

“One of the great things about track and field is the diversity of events and we try very hard, in each recruiting class, to bring in new athletes in each event area,” Dolan said. “It’s going to be really fun to see how they develop. I know we have a couple of new very impactful sprinters and jumpers in both programs that we’ll see for the first time in a couple of weeks at competition. We’re really excited to see them hit the ground running.”

The Quakers will kick off the season at the Seahawk Invitational in Staten Island, N.Y. on Dec. 9 before transitioning into full gear after winter break.