New Jersey's Sean Dolan stormed his way into the final of the mile with an electrifying performance when the redshirt freshman at Villanova crashed through the Sub 4 barrier with a historic performance at the NCAA Championships on Friday at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Dolan, running just the third college race of his career, burned a sizzling 3:57.20 to finish third in the first of two heats to automatically qualify for Saturday's final (3 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN3 ).
Just how remarkable is Dolan's performance?
Villanova is home to some of the greatest collegiate milers in US. history as Dolan became the 43rd Wildcat to crack the magical 4-minute barrier. But none of the other 42 that came before him ever ran as fast as Dolan at the NCAA Indoor Championships a Dolan did.
And Dolan's 3:57.20 places him No. 4 all-time in Villanova indoor history!!
With Dolan's talent and drive, there was never a question about whether the 2019 graduate of Hopewell Valley High would break 4, it's always been just a matter of when. But to do it in just his second college mile ever and third college race ever, and to slice more than four seconds off his PR is just amazing.
Dolan, a national high school champ in the mile who ran a 4:05.01 mile during his days Hopewell Valley, made an eye-popping college debut last month when smashed the facility record with a winning time of 2:24.40 in the 1000m at West Point. He followed that up running a 4:01.57 mile on the flat track at the Camel City Invit. Elite JDL on Feb. 20 in North Carolina.
Dolan, ranked 13th among the 16 accepted entries, said it felt great to break 4, but that he can't really enjoy it until after the final.
The race on Friday was the perfect storm for Dolan as Oregon's Cole Hocker and Reed Brown made sure the pace was quick. Hocker, a sophomore, led at the half in 1:58.93 and stayed in control the rest of the way, winning the heat in 3:56.57.
Dolan, who hit the half in 1:59.96, was in sixth-place with 440 to go. But he closed with a 58.18 final quarter, including a 28.84 last 220, to lock up third place. Dolan crossed a stride behind Michigan junior Tom Dodd, who ran a PR of 3:57.00.
Dolan, who covered the final 880 in 1:57.24, is the 29th member of NJ's prestigious Sub 4 Club, and is the ninth fastest NJ high school miler of all-time. And at 19 years of age (he will turn 20 next Friday), Dolan is the second youngest NJ runner to crack 4. Only the legendary Marty Liquori, another all-time great at Nova, was younger than Dolan when he broke 4. Liquori ran 3:59.8 at the age of 17 in the summer of 1967 after graduating from Essex Catholic.
Dolan is the second NJ guy to get under 4 in the last two weeks.
North Carolina senior Brandon Tubby (Hillsborough High Class of 2016) blasted a 3:57.77 when he won the mile at the ACC Championships on Feb. 27. Dolan's 3:59.20 pushes Tubby to No. 10 on the all-time NJ list.
Tubby didn't run mile at the NCAA Championships, instead he anchored NC's DMR last night with a red hot 3:55.41 carry to bring the Tar Heels across fourth in a school record 9:25.80, No. 6 in NCAA Indoor history! Oregon won the DMR in a meet record 9:19.98, No. 2 all-time in NCAA history. Oregon owns the NCAA record of 9:19.42 set this past January.
Here's NJ's updated Sub 4 List
3:57.20-Sean Dolan, Hopewell Valley, Fayetteville, Arkansas, March 12, 2021