Dopek Focuses on Elevating Cross Country Program
July 24, 2014
CHICAGO – After orchestrating a striking turnaround in the DePaul track and field program, coach Dave Dopek now looks to replicate that success with the Blue Demon cross country team.
Dopek received a contract extension through 2016-17 upon completing the best season in DePaul track and field history. The head coach of track and cross country is the Blue Demons’ only national champion after winning the 200-meter dash at the 1995 NCAA Indoor Championships at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. He also finished second in the 200 meters at the 1995 outdoor championships.
Dopek won a gold medal in the 200m and was a member of the title-winning 4x100 relay team at the 1995 United States Olympic Festival. That same year he competed on the gold-medal winning 4x100 relay team at the World University Games in Fukuoka, Japan and won a silver medal in the 200m.
A year later he competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta. In 1997, he claimed gold medals in both the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays at the 1997 World University Games in Sicily, Italy.
Now, the greatest track athlete in DePaul history is focusing on elevating the men’s and women’s cross-country teams.
“As we look to the 2014 cross country season, there is great excitement among our staff,” said Dopek, who just completed his 19th season on the track and field coaching staff and his third season heading up both the track and cross country programs. “We have many of our top runners back from last year along with several key individuals returning from injury.
“The returnees will be joined by an incoming freshman class with a decidedly Midwestern vibe. These young men and women will be joining a cross country/ track and field program that is coming off successful back-to-back track and field seasons.
“The expectation is that we build off that success.”
That is precisely the blueprint Dopek followed in 2013-14. Crafting a formula to maximize his student-athletes’ strongest assets, Dopek watched proudly as his Blue Demons finished third (men’s team) and fifth (women’s team) at the BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships last February in New York City.
For both the men and women, it was the highest BIG EAST finish in program history. And for DePaul, it was only the beginning.
Just three months later, Dopek & Co. surpassed their personal best when the men’s team came in second and the women fourth at the BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Philadelphia. The women’s side was a mere five points away from finishing third.
Now, it’s cross country’s turn.
“Our cross country team is a talented group of young men and women that are capable of performing at a high level,” Dopek said. “It will be my focus to instill the competitive and championship attitude that is necessary to accomplish these goals.
“Along with assistant coach Leah Bohr, I will be striving to elevate the stature of our cross country program to be among the most competitive in the BIG EAST Conference.”
Bohr will undertake working with the cross country runners on a day-to-day basis and be heavily involved in recruiting top athletes to the program.
She is a former DePaul track standout who joined the coaching staff in January of 2011 and helped guide ex-Blue Demon Matthew Graham to a fourth-place finish in the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships later that year.
Bohr earned Academic All-America and all-Conference USA honors in 2003-04, her senior season. She was the C-USA champion in the indoor mile and in the outdoor 1500 meters. She currently holds DePaul school records in the indoor mile (4:46) and the outdoor 1500m (4:27).
Dopek’s staff also features assistant coach Brandon Murer who has specialized in working with the throwers since 2005. Murer has coached 18 BIG EAST champions, 17 NCAA Round One qualifiers, 11 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships qualifiers, three NCAA Indoor Championships qualifiers and five NCAA Second Team All-Americans.
Murer has enhanced the careers of such Blue Demon standouts as Brad Millar, Melissa Fraser, Tim Nedow and Alanna Kovacs along with current BIG EAST champions Matt Babicz, Sarah Moss and Trevor Kintyhtt.
In addition to Bohr and Murer, Stephanie Williams-Townsend is a part-time assistant coach who set five school records as a Blue Demon sprinter and Tonderai Tomu is serving as a graduate assistant coach after being named the Male Track Athlete of the Meet at last February’s BIG EAST Indoor Championships.