Early during Townsend distance runner Jack Dolan’s freshman year of cross country, he was struggling to make times in the low 20-minute range.
But he stuck with it, persevered, and last month Dolan capped off his prep career with a third-place finish at the Class B State Cross Country Meet at Bill Roberts Golf Course.
He earned his second All-State medal, and was part of a State-trophy team for the fourth straight year. And now, Jack Dolan is the IR All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“It feels amazing to receive this award,” Dolan said. “I always get really excited at the end of each season to see who will be named IR Runner of the Year, and to be one of those people is an amazing feeling.”
After placing ninth last year with the State champion Bulldogs -- which graduated three All-Staters -- Dolan was the team’s senior leader this season.
He led the squad in every meet, including a 66th placing at Missoula’s Mountain West Classic, and a runner-up finish at the Broadwater Invitational, with a clocking of 17 minutes, 3 seconds. He also ran a 16:50 in Butte to take 12th in that meet.
Then at State, he placed third with a time of 17:27, leading the ‘Dawgs to a third-place trophy.
“There are countless people that I owe a huge thank you to,” Dolan said. “People like Nathan Gallegos, Cole Bergstad and Louis Ingalls, and all of my teammates past and present. Obviously the biggest supporters I’ve had over all these years are my parents, Sean and Brooke; I owe them the biggest thanks of all.”
He went on to thank Lady Bulldog senior Grace McDonnell, as well as his family and friends, and other supporters.
Dolan’s mother, who also happens to be Broadwater’s coach, related how her son taught her some valuable lessons about the sport.
“When Jack started cross country in sixth grade he could fly, but then he was having knee problems from growing, not to mention physically and emotionally going through all of the million changes that boys go through at that time,” Brooke related. “I thought, maybe this isn’t his thing. But he stuck with it and with each cross country and track season, he grew in both arenas bit by bit.
“He became my poster child to stick with whatever “it” might be, and to be patient in the process. I look at runners now, and no matter how they compete when they’re young, if they have the heart to go along with some patience and hard work, some pretty awesome things can happen.”