North Schuylkill Alum Brendan Shearn has had an impressive first season at the University of Pennsylvania. The North Schuylkill alum was a varsity performer for the cross country team, scoring in every competition for the Quakers in 2013 on their way to a 4th place finish at the 2013 NCAA Mid Atlantic Regional Championships at Lehigh University. In track, Shearn earned a top five finish while running a personal best at The Penn Relays in the 10000 meter run (29:49.04). That performance earned him a ticket to the NCAA East Regional Preliminary Championships, where he would go on and finish 20th out of 48 runners. Shearn extended his outdoor season and competed in the 10000 meter run at the USATF Junior National Championships, earning a runner up finish and a ticket to the IAAF World Youth Championships later this month! PennTrackXC caught up with the former two time state champion and got some of his thoughts on his first collegiate season, his performance at Junior Nationals and the upcoming World Youth meet.
How was your training between NCAA East regionals and the race? How hard was the adjustment extending your season an extra month plus?
My training between NCAA Regionals and USA Juniors went very well. I was able to gradually bring my mileage back up to a pretty high level and still fit in a few workouts. Training for the 10k on the track is very similar to training for cross country so I was able to follow a very similar progression that I would have followed anyway throughout the summer. It was somewhat difficult to extend my season because I was feeling tired, but my teammates helped me a lot with workouts so they went well.
Talk about the race. What adjustments did you make from the NCAA 10k? Did the race play out as planned?
The race went similar to the way I had envisioned. I knew that there was no one in the race that could take it out at a pace that would really slip up the front pack. In the NCAA meet I knew that there were a lot of very strong and experience runners that would take the pace. Here it was a lot different, as no one had run that many 10ks. The race went as planned, but basically I felt a lot worse than I anticipated. I had intended to make a strong move with 1k to go, but when I got there I knew I didn't have it in my legs to handle that kind of move. I knew that I had one good move in me so I needed to save it for the very last lap.
How did you handle the pressure of being in the hunt for a qualifying spot as the race ended?
As the race continued, I knew that it would take everything I had to make the team. As I was finishing, I thought about all of the people that supported me throughout my career and I wanted to do this for them. I remember thinking about my teammate Madison Holleran in the last lap of the race and I wanted to finish it for her.
How do you feel about your entire first year as a collegiate runner? After a successful high school career, what were some of the growing pains of year one?
My first year of collegiate running was very successful in my opinion. My cross country season went very well as I was able to contribute to my team and score for them in every race. It took some time to adjust to the new training program and running with a group of guys that are all very good. I feel as if I grew as a racer this year, as I was put out of my comfort zone in my races and I had to learn to adjust. There were some major differences between college and high school running. It took me some time to realize that I would not be one of the strongest runners in the field right away. I needed to change my racing style to be able to fit into college races better. I learned in college that everyone has a strong kick and knows how to finish hard so that is something that I needed to learn. The other thing was the hard, consistent training that we do here. In high school, I would take more days off and have more days of easy running. But in college, we train hard most days and get the most benefit from the training.
Talk about the impact coach Dolan had on you and the program.
Coach Dolan has had a huge impact on the program, completely changing the culture of the team. He took our team from one that had underperformed to one that is now charging forward. He instilled in our team a belief that we can run with the best teams in the country. In my opinion, he is one of the best coaches in the country in the way that he develops runners. He takes a very individual approach to training and tries to tailor the training to each runner. Personally, he has helped me learn how to become a better racer and have more confidence in myself.
What are you most excited about qualifying for world youths at Hayward Field?
I am most excited to represent my school and my country in the world championships. I take a lot of pride in representing Penn and the United States so it will be a lot of fun pulling on the USA jersey. I am excited to meet all of the athletes from all over the world as well. It will be very interesting meeting people from different cultures and different up bringings that have the same passion for running.
What advice would you give to the upcoming freshmen class who are about to start their college careers?
My advice for the upcoming freshmen class would be to learn from your teammates. The transition to college running is tough, and they have done it before, so use their knowledge and learn from them.
I would also like to thank my family, my coaches and my teammates for supporting me throughout all of this. I would also like to thank the University for providing me with the opportunity to go to this meet. Without all of the support I have received, none of this would have been possible.
Thank you Brendan and good luck at the World Youth Championship in Eugene!