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Penn's Boldon Promoted to Head Coach of Men's and Women's Cross Country

Penn's Blake Boldon

Courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications

PHILADELPHIA - University of Pennsylvania distance coach Blake Boldon has been promoted to the position of head coach of men's and women's cross country. The announcement was made by Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky.

"I couldn't be more grateful," Boldon said of the head coaching opportunity. "Penn is a top-five academic institution with the world's largest track meet. It has one of the oldest and most prestigious cross country programs in the nation, and the Ivy League is an elite distance conference on the national level. To receive this opportunity is extraordinary.

"Initially, we want to compete with the top schools in the Ivy League. If we can do that, we can compete with anyone in the country. I truly believe Penn cross country can be among the top teams in the nation. That's why I'm here. That's why this is so exciting."

A sub four-minute miler, Boldon just completed his first season as the distance coach for the Quakers and will continue to serve in that capacity during the indoor and outdoor track seasons. Under his guidance, sophomore Leslie Kovach became just the second All-America in the history of Penn women's track and field, and set school records in the outdoor 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters (where she broke a mark that had stood since 1985). In addition, Boldon also coached Laura Steel and Margaret Diacont, both of whom now rank in Penn's top-five all-time in the steeplechase.

On the men's side, four different Quakers qualified for the IC4A Championships in the 5,000 meters. Among those four, senior Luke Grau finished with the program's second-fastest 5K time since 1991. Grau and freshman Conner Paez also had indoor 3,000-meter times that rank second and third among all Penn runners over the last 30 years.

Boldon -- who has prior experience in the Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conferences -- was hired as the women's cross country head coach and an assistant coach for track & field at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in July 2009. Boldon finished the 2010 cross country season at UAB. The UAB women's squad finished fourth at the Conference USA Championships with three all-conference runners. At UAB last spring, Boldon’s athletes set two school records and two Blazers qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Also in 2010, he was recognized as one of the best young coaches in America when awarded the Gill Athletics 2010 USATF Coaches Education Level II Scholarship.

In his previous collegiate coaching position Boldon worked at Iowa State University from 2005 to 2008. During his three years in Ames, the Cyclones saw tremendous success. In Boldon's first year, Kiel Uhl was the U.S. Junior Cross Country champion and the top American at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. During the same season David Rotich was the runner-up in the mile run at the NCAA Indoor Championships and set a school record of 3:59.50. In 2007, the men's cross country team qualified for the national championships for the first time in a decade. The following spring, Lisa Koll set the American collegiate record for 10,000 meters by running 32:11.13 at the Stanford Invitational. In addition to being the 2008 NCAA runner-up in the indoor 5000 meters, Koll was the NCAA Champion in the 10,000 meters.

Boldon spent the 2005 season as a volunteer assistant track & field coach at Florida State, and as a team, the Seminoles had two top 10 NCAA finishes. Three of the distance runners that Boldon worked with at FSU went on to represent Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Prior to FSU, Boldon was a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater, Missouri State, from 2003-04. That year, the women's cross country team won the conference title.

As an athlete at Missouri State, Boldon earned Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Indoor Most Valuable Athlete and Indoor Most Outstanding Track Performer honors in 2003. He was a five-time MVC champion and holds the school records in the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500 meters.

Also competing in the United States Track & Field Championships in recent years, Boldon has four top 10 finishes at the national event. His best finish came in 2007, placing fourth in the indoor 3,000 meters. By running 3:59.18 in 2007 he became only the third Iowa native to run a sub four-minute mile. Boldon currently serves on the USATF Athlete Advisory Committee as the event leader for the men's 3,000-to-10,000 meters.

In addition to coaching and running, Boldon has written for the web edition of Running Times and contributed to Fitness Magazine.

Boldon received his USATF Level I coaching certification in 2004.

Boldon, who was named an Academic All-American as a senior, received his bachelor's degree in mathematics education from Missouri State in 2003.