"I just decided it's my last high school 800. I'm just going to try to rip one."
Sean Dolan may have said those words in a post-race interview in June of last year, following his personal record performance at the NJSIAA Group Championships at Central Regional High School, but he most certainly was thinking of them beforehand, too.
Across two days last year, the Villanova University signee absolutely unleashed a beastly performance in his final Group Championship competition, laying down two US top 35 performances in both the 800 and 1,600 meter runs.
Previous to his blistering 800m run on Saturday, Dolan stepped to the line in the 1,600m a day prior. He bided his time in that race, like a true tactician, then made an emphatic move.
"Our group 3 is stacked this year," Dolan said. "I was just trying to ride along with that race and make a move with about 500 out and just try to make some separation and eally punch it with 200 to go.
Dolan's devastating kick gapped Mendham's Jack Stanley by three seconds, with the Hopewell Valley senior accomplishing a US No. 34 time of 4:10.76.
"I saw the time and I was a little shocked, honestly. I didn't think we were going that fast. It was nothing but a good surprise."
A day later, Dolan's mind wandered to what he could accomplish in the 800m, his preferred race.
Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary, though, until the 300 meter mark.
Looking back, Dolan made his critical decision there.
A 8 to 10 meter gap formed by the 400 meter mark, where he went through in roughly 54-high. No one was willing to compromise their race to go with Dolan.
And so it became the New Jersey great's race.
Dolan extended that lead to roughly 15 meters by the 500 meter mark.
At 600m, it sort of looked as if Dolan had miscalculated. Jackson Liberty's Joe DeVito, in second, looked to be closing on him.
But with 100 meters to go, Dolan saw the finish and wasn't going to be denied.
A collection of oohs reverberated around the stadium when Dolan's time appeared: 1:50.53.
DeVito followed in second in 1:53.25.
Now, back to that quote.
I gave you the first part. Here's the continuation:
"It turned out to be the race I hoped for," Dolan said.
Later, reflecting throughout the interview, he continued:
"A lot of good stuff happening right now. Big shot out to teammates, coaches, everything."
NJSIAA Group Championships 800m Run Final
Boys 800 Meter Run Group 3 =================================================================================== Name Year School Seed Finals H# Points =================================================================================== 1 Dolan, Sean 12 Hopewell Valley HS 1:53.01 1:50.53 2 10 2 DeVito, Joe 12 Jackson Liberty HS 1:55.81 1:53.25 2 8 3 Titus, Will 12 Hopewell Valley HS 1:58.03 1:54.43 2 6 4 Jensen, Brayden 12 Sparta HS 1:57.86 1:55.93 2 4 5 Kelly, Jason 12 Indian Hills HS 1:57.99 1:56.29 2 2 6 Hawkins, Yarayah 12 Highland Reg HS 1:57.80 1:56.31 2 1 7 Joga, Keishaun 12 Absegami HS 1:57.48 1:56.51 2 8 Pantoya, Jacob 11 Summit HS 1:57.14 1:57.94 2
Retrospective: Dolan wasn't done that season. While the 800m would turn into his final high school race at that distance, he followed his PR in the 1,600m with another at the NJSIAA State Meet of Champions, lowering his best to 4:09.14 , in a race he won. That mark finished as a US No. 19 mark and a New Jersey No. 1. Dolan's last high school was in June when he was fourth in the mile at Brooks PR with a career best time of 4:05.01. He redshirted in his first season with Villanova in 2020.