D’Agostino edged out in trials
By Lilly Maguire, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 3, 2012
After a qualifying first-place finish in the early rounds of the 5,000-meter Olympic trials race in Eugene, Oregon, Abbey D’Agostino ’14 finished the trial’s final under Olympic “A” standard time, achieving a personal record of 15.19.98 on Thursday.
With a fifth-place finish, D’Agostino just missed making the Olympic team, which takes only the top three finishers. The margin was so small that it had to be determined with a photo finish.
“Meeting the “A” standard was a really incredible feeling, one that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate until later, just because how close the last two seconds of the race were,” D’Agostino said. “I am thrilled to have run my personal record in that race, because it’s difficult to find that set of competition anywhere else.”
The third-place runner, Kim Conley, finished with a time of 15.19.79, just 19 milliseconds faster than D’Agostino’s time. Although she described the event as surreal, D’Agostino said she focused on the thought that running is the same regardless of the heightened atmosphere.
“It was unlike any other collegiate race in that there were 25,000 people watching, but on the track, a 5k is a 5k,” she said. “Conceptualizing the race in the same way as any other was important to staying relaxed.”
In the first heat, D’Agostino used a late surge to come from behind in the final 50 meters to grab the lead from Olympic qualifier Julie Culley, winning with a time of 15:41.14. This time was just over 30 seconds faster than the time that won her Dartmouth’s first NCAA national championship in the same event in Des Moines, Iowa in June. Finishing first gave D’Agostino a confidence boost any Olympic trial newcomer would welcome.
“It definitely made me feel energized to finish first in the preliminary round,” D’Agostino said. “The original plan was only to stay in the top five and make the final, but I was surprised to feel stronger and more relaxed than I expected, so I just went for it.”
As much as she had prepared for it, the final race itself did not play out as ideally as she had hoped.
“I was a bit frustrated during most of the race because I was struggling to find an inside spot, and I knew I was wasting energy,” D’Agostino said. “Once the pack split up, though, I kept telling myself to make little moves like ‘pass this girl on the next straightaway.’ I was also repeating mantras in my head to stay positive when the exhaustion started setting in.”
The sophomore is already a five-time All-American, and she’s not stopping here.
“I would love to continue running after college if I have the opportunity,” D’Agostino said. “Being able to witness the feeling of indescribable bliss was enough for me to understand just how rewarding that could be, and I’ll absolutely give that another shot.”
Alexi Pappas ’12, teammate and fellow Olympic hopeful in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, said it was a thrilling experience to be at the trials among so many high-level athletes.
“The atmosphere at the trials is incredibly high energy, and it’s the first time I’ve seen that many people gathered who all share the same love for the sport,” Pappas said.
Pappas said that competing as a recent college graduate was a “blast.”
“It felt like a peek at what the future could hold for us, for college women and running,” Pappas said. “People were so encouraging and excited, and it meant a lot to be here.”
Pappas was unable to move past the qualifying round in her event with a 23rd-place finish. At the NCAA championship for the event in June, Pappas took third place and also claimed First-Team All-American honors. At the NCAA East regional in May, she broke her own Dartmouth record with a time of 9:55.89. For Pappas, running at the College has been an incredible journey that she will take with her in her future endeavors, she said.
“I think we’re very lucky to all be a part of the team together,” Pappas said. “[D’Agostino and I] have kept each other in good company in our recent running journeys.”
Pappas will attend graduate school this fall at the University of Oregon, where she will pursue a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies focusing on film, English and entrepreneurial business. She plans on using her fifth year of eligibility to run cross country and track for the Ducks.
Sean Furey ’04 Th’05 will be making his Olympic debut in the javelin throw this summer. Coming into the final, three athletes, including Furey, had already achieved the Olympic “A” standard earlier in the season. Because no one in the event that day met the 82.00-meter Olympic mark, the three athletes that had previously met the standard were selected for the London games, though they finished third, fourth and fifth at the trials. Furey, a former Dartmouth football player, placed fourth.
Ben True ’08 posted the third-best qualifying time and was third in his heat in the 5,000-meter run, running a 13:42.12. His time advanced him to the final, where he finished sixth. True was one of the best distance runners in College history and was the first to run a sub-four-minute mile.
Seasoned Olympic shot put Champion Adam Nelson ’97 did not qualify for the finals in the event this year. Although Nelson won a silver medal in both the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics, he took 15th in the qualifying round and only the top 12 advanced. It was an emotional exit for Nelson, who has been competing at a high level in the sport for many years. He was the 1997 NCAA champion, won a medal at the World Outdoor Championship in 2005 and was a member of the 2008 team for the Sydney Olympics.