D’Agostino wins first women’s individual title
By Rahul Raina, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, June 22, 2012
Dartmouth secured its first-ever individual national title in women’s track and field when Abbey D’Agostino ’14 edged Megan Goethals of the University of Washington by three-hundredths of a second on June 9 to win the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. D’Agostino improved on her third place finish in 2011 to be crowned a national champion.
D’Agostino took the lead from University of Colorado runner Jessica Tebo with 300 meters to go and had a lead of approximately eight meters entering the home stretch. D’Agostino began to visibly tire at that point, and she drifted out to the second lane as Goethals began to gain on her. However, when Goethals pulled even with D’Agostino with roughly 20 meters to go, D’Agostino dug deep and held off her opponent.
D’Agostino’s winning time of 16:11.34 was well off her personal best of 15:23.25 due to a slow first mile and 90 degree temperatures on the track at race time. The title was the latest accomplishment in one of the best years ever for a Big Green athlete. Her victory garnered her All-American honors for the fourth time this year, and last month D’Agostino won the Class of 1976 award, given to Dartmouth’s most outstanding female athlete.
“Abbey’s performance was both exciting and amazing to watch,” head coach Sandy Ford-Centonze said. “When she came in as a freshman, few people would have predicted that she would be a national champion and have qualified for Olympic trails by sophomore year. The results are a testament to Abbey’s drive and her awesome work ethic.”
The sky seems to be the limit for D’Agostino, but her coach said she understands that success in this sport is not guaranteed.
“After everything she has accomplished, there is definitely going to be a big bulls-eye on Abbey’s back going into next season,” Ford-Centonze said. “It is up to us as coaches to give her the best opportunity to continue to win in the future. I have no doubt that there is more success in store for Abbey over the coming years.”
While a Dartmouth woman had never won an individual championship in track and field before this season, D’Agostino’s title was also the first for either the men’s or the women’s teams since 1997, when Adam Nelson ’97 won the shot put.
Along with D’Agostino’s performance, Dartmouth also received a strong finish from senior Alexi Pappas ’12, who finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Friday night. Pappas ran 10:01.20 to finish behind University of Colorado’s Shalaya Kipp, who won the race in 9:49.02, and the University of Florida’s Genevieve LaCazel, who finished in 9:50.25. Pappas’ finish ensured that she, like D’Agostino, earned First Team All-American honors.
Ford-Centonze said that Pappas’ results were particularly special.
“People tend to forget this, but Alexi did not come to Dartmouth to run the steeplechase,” she said. “In fact, she came in as a distance runner, and this is only the second year that she is running this event.”
Her coach commended Pappas’ leadership role on the team this year.
“Alexi was an important leader on both the cross country and track teams,” she said. “She set a great example for her younger teammates throughout the year, and watching her hard work culminate in such an outstanding result makes me extremely proud.”
With their performances, Pappas and D’Agostino not only cemented their legacies in Dartmouth athletics, but also helped deliver Dartmouth’s best team performance at the outdoor championships in history. Thanks to the 10 points earned by D’Agostino and the six earned by Pappas, Dartmouth finished 14th at the championships with 16 points, ahead of traditional powers such as the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Arkansas. The result was significantly better than Dartmouth’s previous best finish of 27th in 1991.
“The excitement that was generated this year was unbelievable,” Ford-Centonze said. “I think that energy will carry over to next year as well. We have a great core group of returning athletes, and the freshmen coming in are all very excited to build on this year’s results.”
The Ivy Heptagonal Championships will be held on Oct. 27, and while it is too early to make predictions, the Big Green will hope to make some noise early in the season.
Even though Pappas has run her last race at Dartmouth, her athletic career is far from over. Both she and D’Agostino will compete at the United States Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon on June 21-July 1. From there, Pappas, who has an extra year of eligibility, will compete at the University of Oregon next season, while D’Agostino still has two years left to complete what is already the greatest career in Dartmouth women’s track and field history.