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Coaches Corner: Mark Young

By Patrick McGarvey

Striving for success has been the mantra of the 1997 women's cross country team. This year the Bulldogs have already captured the H-Y-P crown for the first time in seven years, and remain undefeated in league action. Much of the success of the squad can be attributed to the consistent efforts of coach Mark Young, ES '68.

A nationally recognized coach, Young still holds a Yale track and field record. In 1968, he anchored the mile relay team that ran the outdoor race in 3:09.6, a time that is yet to be broken. Despite being an avid runner in his younger days, the coach has had to cease running and seek alternative methods of exercise due to recent hip replacement surgery.

Cross-country has always been a part of Young's life. Before his 17-year tenure with the Bulldogs, the 30-year coaching veteran competed professionally for four years after graduating from Yale. Two children and the financial constraints of professional running, however, forced Young to hang up the spikes. While teaching at a high school, Young became involved with coaching cross country as a way of maintaining involvement with the sport. "I really enjoy working with the kids," Young said. "Teaching and coaching seemed to complement each other."

Before becoming the head coach for the Elis in 1980, Young served as the Assistant Attorney General in Massachusettes. Even while fulfilling his role as a public servant, Young could not stay away from the sport he loves. He remained the coach of the Westin High School cross-country team.

According to Young, the jump from high school athletics to college competition was not a major one. "[But] the Attorney General did question why I was transferring occupations," he commented. Young made the job switch quite successfully. In the late 1980s, Yale was among the top cross-country teams in the country. They finished third in the nation in 1987; no other Ivy League team had ever finished higher than fourth. Young was also named 1987 NCAA Coach of the Year.

More recently, the team has struggled to regain its former glory. "It is too early to tell how good this team really is," Young said. "It depends upon how well we do at Friday's meet." The future seems bright for the squad, with only one senior among the top 10 runners. "They have just begun emerging as a good team," Young said. "Time will tell whether they are truly great."

Young commands tremendous respect among the runners. "Coach Young knows what it takes to get to the top of the sport," Shannon Duff, PC '99, said. "He is willing to work with you to reach excellence. Having been a Yale athlete, he knows what it's like trying to balance everything here. He understands the position that athletes are in, and respects that." If his outstanding Bulldog legacy is any indication, Young can only lead them to the top.

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