Gondak named interim track and field/cross country head coach

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- John Gondak has been named the interim head coach for Penn State's cross country and track and field programs effective immediately following the departure of Beth Alford-Sullivan to the University of Tennessee. Gondak has been with the program for eight years and most recently served as the associate head coach.

"First of all, I want to thank Coach Sullivan for her many years of leadership at Penn State," said Gondak. "Due to her guidance, the dedication of the assistant coaches and all the hard work and effort by the student-athletes, this program is in a great spot. We have had historic results the last few years including Big Ten Championships, Top 10 team finishes at the NCAA Track Championships, Penn Relays Championships, and an NCAA Regional Cross Country Championship - all results we want to continue striving for. I'd also like to thank Dave Joyner and Jan Bortner for asking me to help through this time of transition. Penn State, this program and its student-athletes are extremely important to me and I am happy to take on this role."

Gondak's focus during his eight years at Penn State have been the Nittany Lion cross country and distance squads. During his tenure, Gondak's student-athletes have accumulated numerous accolades including 19 USTFCCCA First Team All-Americans, 20 Big Ten Champions, 20 Penn State records, four Big Ten Freshman of the Year honorees, five Penn Relays victories, and three sub-4:00 milers.

Aside from his athletes' efforts on the track, the Doylestown, Pa., native has also had a huge impact in the Nittany Lions' success on the cross country course, including a Big Ten title by the women's squad in 2009 and an NCAA Mid-Atlantic regional title in 2012. Over the years, Gondak has assisted in NCAA-qualifying efforts by the women's squad in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and by the men's team in 2008, and 2010. The Nittany Lion women's squad placed 13th at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships - the highest finish in nearly two decades. In fact, the Nittany Lion women have enjoyed five-straight NCAA-qualifying performances in cross country, capturing top 15 standings on three out of five occasions.

Gondak has also been widely recognized by the coaching community as he was named United States Track and Field/Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Assistant Coach of the Year during the indoor season in 2009, and again for his efforts during the 2010 outdoor season. Gondak swept the Mid-Atlantic awards in 2013, winning the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Men's Assistant Coach of the Year award during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. This past season, he was again named Mid-Atlantic Region Men's Assistant Coach of the Year.

Prior to Penn State, Gondak spent nearly eight seasons at the University of Kentucky before moving to Georgia Tech in 2006. As an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Wildcat middle distance/distance runners, Gondak oversaw 25 All-America finishes in his event area, while 19 athletes earned All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) honors. Prior to working at Kentucky, Gondak was the cross country and assistant track and field coach at Georgia Tech from 1995-96, and Toledo from 1996-98.

Gondak started out as a walk-on athlete at Syracuse and quickly improved, qualifying for the IC4A Championships as a sophomore, junior and senior in the distance-medley relay and mile run. During his senior year, he was placed on scholarship and named captain of the cross country program. Gondak graduated summa cum laude as the valedictorian of the civil engineering program. 

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Last Updated July 11, 2014