The UC San Diego men’s cross country team enters the 2006 season with a mix of juniors, sophomores and some outstanding newcomers. As the lone senior, Dan Holligan took time to discuss the upcoming season and how he has been spending this summer. Last season the UCSD men finished with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA West Regionals at Chino Hills in November. The 2006 season begins with a home meet with CSUSM, PLNU and SDCC on the La Jolla campus on September 1.
Q- What has been your favorite cross country course to run on?
HOLLIGAN - One of the best parts of cross country is the variety of courses we get to race on. I enjoy the challenge of tough courses, like our home course, but it’s also fun to race on flat, fast courses. My favorite was probably racing at the Paul Short Invitational in Pennsylvania last year. The course was out on this huge athletic facility. We raced on this wide grass trail that cut across open fields and through trees. There were a few rolling hills but it was mostly flat and fast. The course was one big 8k loop, which is unusual. Courses that we usually race are made of smaller loops that you repeat multiple times. Although it’s not as spectator friendly, the single loop is less tedious and you get to see more variety in the race. Plus the race had at least 300 guys in it which raises the energy and intensity and makes it a lot of fun.
Q- What type of activities/workouts have you been doing this summer?
HOLLIGAN - Our workouts for this cross-country season started before finals in spring quarter even began, and the by the end of July, the intensity has risen a lot. We are doing much tougher workouts this summer compared to years past. My teammates and I have been playing a little bit of Ultimate to mix it up, but it’s mostly been increasing our fitness with a lot of running.
Q- Are you taking any classes or working this summer?
HOLLIGAN- I’m working at the UCSD HNRC in Hillcrest and I’m also taking a prep course for the August MCAT.
Q- How did you get started running?
HOLLIGAN - My parents are both runners as well as all of my mom’s side of the family, so they got me interested when I was fairly young. I remember running mile races and local cross country races while I was in elementary school. By the time I got to high school, I was ready for cross country.
Q- Entering your final year as a Triton, what specific goals would you like to achieve?
HOLLIGAN - We’ve got a young team this year, with a lot of juniors and sophomores. What I would like to accomplish is for this team to learn how to race well together and to race tough. Cross country requires a lot of skills, but also just teaching your body to fight through pain. We’ve got to balance running smart and just running tough. If we focus on this, I think the other results will come, such as finishing top two in the conference, and earning a trip to nationals by finishing top three in the west region. With all of our up and coming talent on this team, these goals are attainable and would be great indicators for the future.
Q- What do you like about running for coach Ted Van Arsdale?
HOLLIGAN- Aside from his great attitude, experience, and knowledge about cross-country, what I’ve come to love most about running for Ted is how important each of his athletes are to him. He doesn’t just want us to be successful as athletes, but also as students and people in general. He looks after all of his athletes and wants to be involved in our lives. Plus, I can’t think of a practice where Ted hasn’t made me laugh. He’s just a fun guy to be around.
Q- How are you able to manage your time with studying, being a tutor and athlete?
HOLLIGAN- Most athletes know that the busier you are, the more efficiently you work and get things done. Having lots of things to do makes me use my time wisely and forces me to get my work done when it needs to be. I don’t want time to be a constraint on the things I want to do. I have my share of late nights, but I like having a routine and the discipline of being a student athlete helps me accomplish what I need to.
Q- What do you enjoy outside of running?
HOLLIGAN - Outside of running!? Well, I like being active and exercising, anything that gets me outside and moving around. I’ve also been lucky to have been able to do a lot of traveling and enjoy visiting new places. I love being in the mountains and being with my family.
Q- Can you share a funny story that has taken place with the cross country team during your time here at UCSD?
HOLLIGAN- With guys on the team like Ben Schuster and Jake LeVieux, every day is a funny story. They’re a walking comedy act. However, we recently had a fun experience on the fourth of July. Six of us who were here in San Diego for the summer decided to do our run on the beach. We started at Law St. then ran down PB and to the jetty at the end of Mission Beach and back. What made it fun was that we wore nothing but our really short American flag running shorts. Now, we get heckled on a regular basis for running around shirtless, but on the fourth we got more whistles and cat calls than I’ve ever heard. Let’s just say that I’ve never had a girl say to me “Yeah sexy daddy America!” It was a very patriotic run and a lot of fun. We try to sport the American flag shorts on campus as often as possible, so keep your eye out of us.
Q- What do you plan to do with your Biochemistry and Cell Biology major after graduation?
HOLLIGAN - I’m going to apply for Medical School next year. I’m not sure what type of medicine I’m most interested in, but I feel like it will be an extremely rewarding career and one that I will really enjoy. Plus, I want to stay in school as long as I can.
Q- With three younger brothers, is there a sibling rivalry?
HOLLIGAN- Well, being the oldest there used to be no contest as to who was the fastest and most athletic. However, now that everyone is getting bigger and older, the playing field is getting level. I’m sure that in a few more months, I’m going to be the shortest out of all four. Having three brothers is awesome because there is no game or sport you can’t play. Spending time with my brothers is one of the greatest parts of my life. As for rivalries, all of us have our own strengths. They might not beat my high school track PR’s, but they could destroy me in tennis, basketball, chess, computer games etc. If you lose at something, you can find something different to beat everyone else at. However, one of my favorite sports to do other than running is ultimate. However, when my brother Brian started school at the University of Colorado, he joined the Ultimate team. It’s hard for me to accept that he’s better than me at that now.
Previous Q&A articles
Dan Holligan of Men's Cross Country (Aug. 2, 2006)