As the sun begins to set, signifying yet another end to a long summer’s day, Dana Klein ’14 laces up her running shoes, puts in her earbuds and heads for her favorite running trail. The stone path beneath echoes a steady cadence throughout the woods, as her feet keep time with songs by indie rock artists Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men, and the Dave Matthews Band. A sport she began for fun while in middle school, running has since become a lifestyle for the 17-year-old athlete who will continue her career at Yale University in the fall.
With an impressive 3.9 GPA, wide assortment of academic accolades including AP Scholar distinction, and countless athletic accomplishments, Klein’s opportunities for college placement were many. She considered several prestigious institutions including Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Wake Forest, before officially committing to Yale University in late-December. “One of the hardest decisions I faced was deciding between Wake Forest and Yale,” she says. “Ultimately, it was the academic challenge and reputation of the Ivy League—along with a good chemistry I sensed between the coach and her team—that helped me make my final decision.”
Klein considers cross country her favorite among the three running seasons—cross country, indoor and outdoor track—she will participate in while attending Yale. “It’s the most natural of all three sports,” she says. “Everyone starts on the same line, with the same gunshot; it’s a real challenge to see who can conquer the course best.”
In 2011, her first year as a member of the Knights’ cross country team, Klein helped the girls to a Non-Public B State Championship, Prep B Championship, Shore Coaches Invitational crown and top-10 overall finish at the Meet of Champions. As a sophomore, she drew inspiration from GSB track star Sarah Quinn ’12—now a year-round runner at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—noting her drive to become the best she could possibly be. According to Gill’s Head Varsity Running Coach David deWolfe, Klein offers the same inspiration to her fellow teammates today. “They’re inspired by her dedication to excel, strong work ethic and ability to make practices an enjoyable experience for all,” he says.
Leading the varsity cross country team this past fall, Klein clocked the fifth fastest female time (18:07) ever at Natirar Park and the third fastest Somerset County time (18:20) in history at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. In addition, she was crowned a Somerset County, Skyland Conference and Prep B champion as well as Gill’s inaugural female Non-Public B Group champion. So far this winter, Klein’s accomplishments range from setting new meet records at the Somerset County (3200m/11:15) and Skyland Conference (1600m/5:13) Championships, to sweeping all three of her events—the 800m, 1600m and 3200m—at the Non-Public B Group Championships on February 19. Linda Klein says of her daughter’s hard work and success at these events and more, “Although it can be time consuming, spending whole days on the weekend as well as several evenings throughout the week at meets, it’s worth it in the end. Dana’s four years at Gill have shaped her into a young lady, student and athlete driven to succeed in college and beyond.”
While her talent is certainly impressive, Klein credits several strange superstitions as contributors to her winning streak. “I know it sounds weird,” she says. “But, I always wear the same socks the day of the race, fix my hair a certain way, and eat pasta with parmesan and veggies the night before.”
Sheer talent or extremely good luck—or a good amount of both—one thing is for sure: Klein is a true leader of her generation. “She has developed her running and her confidence over the years,” says deWolfe. “To the point where she knows she can compete with the best runners in the state. I have no doubt she will carry this experience and confidence with her to the collegiate level in the fall.”