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John Gondak Named New Track & Field Coach

John Gondak bleeds Blue and White.

Gondak is a Pennsylvania native, having grown up in Doylestown. His parents are alumni to the university, so he fondly speaks of having supported Penn State and its athletics for years. He didn’t attend Penn State personally, as he was a walk-on for Syracuse, where he excelled his senior year and was named captain of the cross country team. But as soon as the opportunity presented itself, he moved back to Happy Valley and was hired as a track and field/cross country coach, a position he has held for the last eight years.

Now, it looks as though Gondak will be staying in State College for awhile longer, as he was named the new head coach of the Nittany Lions’ track and field/cross country teams on Friday.

In a press release, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour stated, “This position requires a great deal of vision, leadership and experience, and I believe strongly that Coach Gondak brings that and more. Based on his time as an Assistant Coach and Associate Head Coach at Penn State, helping to elevate both the men’s and women’s programs on the national stage, the committee and I felt John was uniquely positioned to take the program to the next level. That’s the goal and I believe John’s leadership and expertise will take us there.”

Gondak’s resume to date is pretty impressive. During the last eight years with the Penn State cross country and track teams, his highlights include:

  • Leading the women’s cross country team to five straight NCAA Championship qualifying appearances, and capturing the 2009 Big Ten title.
  • Coaching 19 USTFCCCA First Team All-Americans, 22 individual Ten Champions, 20 Penn State records, four Big Ten Freshman of the Year honorees, five Penn Relays victories and three sub-4:00 milers.
  • Being named United States Track and Field/Cross Country Association Mid-Atlantic Assistant Coach of the year multiple times, the most recent coming in 2014.
  • Being named the Distance Head Coach for the U.S. for the North American, Central America, and Caribbean Athletic Association Under-23 Championships, where the U.S. took home two distance titles.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected as next Director of Cross Country/Track and Field at Penn State,” said Gondak. “I have been coming to Happy Valley supporting Penn State athletics as long as I can remember, both of my parents are alumni, and to have the opportunity to lead this program is the pinnacle of my career to this point. We have had incredible success academically and athletically with both the men’s and women’s programs over the last eight years and I look forward to continuing to push this program to new heights in the years to come.”

In the summer, Beth Alford-Sullivan left the head coaching position at Penn State for one at Tennessee. She had been the coach for 17 years.

About the Author

Brandilyn Heckman

is a junior majoring in Secondary Education (English). Though she commutes to class from her home in Penns Valley, she refuses to be called a 'townie.' Along with Onward State, she currently interns with the Centre Daily Times. In her spare time, she is unafraid to show her love for Penn State, Landon Donovan, and Captain America. You can follow her on twitter at @Brandilynh or contact her via email with [email protected]


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