Harriers take second at Dartmouth Invite
By Matt Stanton, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, September 10, 2012
On Saturday morning, spectators lined the fairways of the Hanover Country Club not to watch golf, but to cheer on collegiate runners racing in the annual Dartmouth Invitational. Running on the newly mapped home course proved advantageous for a pair of Big Green runners, as both Will Geoghegan ’14 and Abbey D’Agostino ’14 were the top collegiate finishers in their respective races. No. 12 Syracuse University won the men’s race with 22 points, while No. 3 Georgetown University, the defending NCAA champion, emerged victorious in the women’s race, scoring 33 points. Dartmouth took second in both races.
Geoghegan finished the eight-kilometer course in 24:43, edging out Syracuse junior Joe Whelan by seven seconds. Tito Medrano — a fifth-year senior at Syracuse running unattached because he is out of eligibility — was the overall winner, finishing in 24:39.
“I had a good summer of training, so I was looking to run with Syracuse’s top guys and go off what they do,” Geoghegan said. “In the end, I was able to pull away from them.”
After a slow start, the pack fractured abruptly at the five-kilometer mark, where the course makes a harrowing ascent up Ski Jump Hill.
“In high school, you only run five-kilometer races,” Curtis King ’16 said. “It’s pretty brutal when you’re thrown a big hill with three kilometers to go when you’d normally be finishing a race.”
King finished 19th overall and was the first Big Green freshman to cross the line.
Geoghegan and his teammates knew from past experience that Ski Jump Hill would be a crucial juncture in deciding the race, and, sure enough, it was.
“We started conservatively in a big pack,” Geoghegan said. “At Ski Jump, Syracuse made a big move up the hill, but on the flat they started dying. That’s when I was able to make my move.”
Following Geoghegan, Jonathan Gault ’13 made a strong push toward the line to finish sixth (24:53), while John Bleday ’14 finished 12th in 25:05. A cluster of Dartmouth runners — Henry Sterling ’14, King, Steve Mangan ’14, Mike Danaher ’13 and Silas Talbot ’15 — finished 18th through 22nd, respectively. Dylan O’Sullivan ’15, who took an early lead on the field at the beginning of the race, was slowly reeled in and crossed the line in 28th.
Dartmouth’s 39 points were good for second in the three-team field, well clear of third-place Middlebury’s 85.
Prior to Saturday’s race, the Big Green completed an intense preseason training program, which included a training trip to the Second College Grant for five days of running on trails and dirt roads. One of the difficult training runs, termed “Hell Gate,” left a distinct impression on the Dartmouth runners.
“It’s an 8.5-mile tempo run on really tough terrain,” Geoghegan said. “My guess is once our bodies are a little more used to the fatigue felt during cross country season, we’ll have more consistent performances from everyone on the team.”
In the women’s six-kilometer race, D’Agostino won by over 35 seconds in a time of 20:48 to maintain her dominant form from last season and this summer’s Olympic Trials, where she missed a spot on Team USA by two-tenths of a second.
“My experience running [at the Olympic Trials] without set expectations and getting to mix it up with runners of that caliber was awesome,” D’Agostino said. “Missing the Olympics was ok because I got to experience sophomore summer and relax for a bit, but I was really glad to be back racing cross country on Saturday.”
There had not been much competition at the last few Dartmouth Invitationals, but that was not the case this year.
“[This year’s race] was especially great because it gave us a chance to compete against top teams like Georgetown, [the University of Connecticut] and Syracuse early in the season,” D’Agostino said. “Usually we only run against Division III teams, so this was a great tune-up after a three-month respite from racing. We also realized the intense fatigue you feel in cross country that you don’t get in track, so I’m really proud of how the team did considering how demanding Saturday’s race was.”
A presumed challenge for the women — especially the freshmen — was the increase in course distance from five kilometers to six, but D’Agostino said that coach Mark Coogan reassured the team by reminding the runners that “you can do anything hard for three minutes.”
Behind D’Agostino, freshmen took the next two spots for the Big Green. Christie Rutledge ’16 finished eighth in 21:42, while classmate Dana Giordano ’16 was the next Dartmouth runner across the line in 12th place (22:07). Hannah Rowe ’14 finished close behind in 22:10, good for a 14th-place finish, while Samantha Harmon ’15 was the final Dartmouth runner to score points in 23rd (22:35). Sarah DeLozier ’15 and co-captain Kate Sullivan ’13 followed Harmon in the next two positions, both finishing within six seconds of Harmon.
“I was really nervous about my first collegiate race,” Giordano said. “After the field broke up around four kilometers in, I just tried to hang on to a couple Georgetown and Syracuse runners until the finish. I’m really glad to have the first race over with.”
In the team scoring, Georgetown won with 33 points, followed by the Big Green’s 57 and Syracuse’s 67. UConn (78) and Middlebury (154) rounded out the field.
Dartmouth will now have nearly three weeks of rest before the team takes to the course again at Lehigh University’s Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Penn., on Sept. 28.
Paul Short is one of the largest meets in the country and offers an opportunity to acquire at-large points for a bid to the NCAA Championships.
“The goal is to pick up some national qualifying points and beat some of the good teams that will be competing at nationals,” Geoghegan said.
Another goal of the men’s team is to win the Ivy League Heptagonal championship, a feat the Big Green has not achieved since 2005.
“We’ve got a good shot this year,” Geoghegan said. “Columbia and Princeton have impressive teams, but if we can build on our performances from Saturday, I think we’ll be in a good position when it counts.”
Gault is a member of The Dartmouth Senior Staff, and Sullivan is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.