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CROSS COUNTRY: DOLAN CROSSES THEM UP : N.P. TRACK STAR EXPANDS HIS HORIZONS.

Byline: Kirby Lee Special to the Daily News

Track and field still takes precedence for Patrick Dolan, but cross country is quickly moving up on the Newbury Park High senior's list of favorite sports.

Dolan, the two-time defending Marmonte League champion in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, has emerged as one of the league's top cross country runners this fall.

Last Friday, Dolan was the Marmonte League's top boys' runner in the Ventura County championships with a surprising third-place finish. His time of 15 minutes, 59 seconds over the 3-mile course at Lake Casitas was a whopping 1:16 faster than Dolan ran on the same course in the Ojai Invitational in September.

``Midway through the season, he became a believer in himself,'' Newbury Park coach Mike Stewart said. ``We knew he could be much better in cross country but running 15:59 and third in the Ventura County championships was something I truly didn't expect.''

Neither did Dolan. Dolan was 13th in last year's Marmonte League championships but will be among the favorites in Thursday's Marmonte League finals along with Thousand Oaks' Seth Neumuller and Agoura's Jeremy Law.

``I never really thought about winning the meet until the race the other day,'' Dolan said. ``I was so surprised when I saw I was the third tag. Now, I am really going to have to live up to the Ventura County meet.''

That hasn't been a problem in track. Dolan captured the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in a lifetime-best 38.8 in the Ventura County championships in April. Dolan went on to finish sixth in the Southern Section Division I championships.

But don't expect to see the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Dolan in the 3,200 meters any time soon. Stewart said he will be hard pressed to persuade Dolan, who has has 49.62 speed for the 400, to move up to the 800 meters this spring.

``He has never really truly loved cross country,'' Stewart said. ``Track has really gone to the fore. He is really competitive and it is a different type of attitude.''

Dolan hasn't quite yet acquired the same tenacity for cross country.

``I don't think of myself as a cross country runner,'' Dolan said. ``Running the quarter or hurdles, you don't think about anything except running. I don't get nervous before a cross country race like I do in track. I just run and hope I do good.''

In the beginning, soccer was foremost over track and cross country for Dolan. A three-year varsity letterman at forward for the Newbury Park soccer team, Dolan initially went out for cross country as a freshman for conditioning for soccer.

Dolan made the varsity cross country team as a freshman and was a member of the Panthers' Marmonte League champion teams as a ninth- and 10th grader. In track, Dolan concentrated on the 400 and high jump his freshman year. It wasn't until his sophomore year when Dolan was first recruited to try the hurdles by Stewart.

``Stewart said I would be pretty good because I was pretty tall and with 400 speed, but I think it was because they needed people in the race,'' Dolan said. ``Maybe I should start listening to him.''

Dolan has heeded the 25th-year coach's advice to skip soccer his senior year to focus on track. Increasing his mileage from four miles to seven miles a day this fall for cross country took a little bit longer for Dolan, who has lost 10 pounds since his junior year, to accept.

``At first my body was dead running a lot of miles,'' Dolan said. ``Then my body got used to it. Now I almost have a feeling that if anyone is near me I can catch them in the last 400. I feel in so much better shape than I ever was.''

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PHOTO Newbury Park's Patrick Dolan finished a surprising third last week in the Ventura County championships.

Tom Mendoza/Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 4, 1998
Words:658
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