On November 2, the Dartmouth women’s cross country team won the Heptagonal Championship in Princeton, N.J., securing the Ivy League title for the first time since 1997. Leading the way for the Big Green was Abbey D’Agostino ’14, who captured her second career Ivy League individual cross country title with a record-breaking performance. D’Agostino finished the 6-kilometer race in 19:40.8, breaking the previous championship meet record by 48 seconds and finishing nearly 40 seconds ahead of the runner-up. In its November 4 racing report, “Runner’s World” writes, “Abbey D’Agostino is the best female distance runner in the Ivy League, and probably in the entire NCAA.”
The story below was published in the Fall 2013 issue of Dartmouth Life.
Abbey D’Agostino ’14 has captured four NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships. (Photo by Tim O’Dowd)
It was a year of firsts for Abbey D’Agostino ’14, as the standout Dartmouth distance runner racked up accolades and national championships.
In March 2013, the Topsfield, Mass., native won both the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, a feat no other American has ever accomplished.
A few months later, at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, she won her second career outdoor 5,000-meter title, becoming the first collegiate woman since 2010 to capture three individual national titles in one year. (D’Agostino won her first NCAA title—in the outdoor 5,000 meter—in 2012.)
With four NCAA titles to her name—twice as many individual titles as any other track and field competitor in Ivy League history—D’Agostino is one of the most decorated undergraduate student-athletes in Dartmouth history.
A psychology major with a cumulative 3.69 grade point average, D’Agostino is the first woman in the history of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association to sweep all three national Division I Scholar Athlete of the Year awards (for cross country, indoor, and outdoor track). She has also graced her first national magazine cover—the September 2013 issue of Running Times.
Because she had been a largely unheralded Masconomet Regional High School (in Boxford, Mass.) runner, D’Agostino’s success at Dartmouth came as a surprise. “I never imagined this,” she says. “When I came to Dartmouth, my goal was just to contribute to the team.”
Dartmouth women’s track and field distance coach Mark Coogan says, “If you had asked me at the beginning of her freshman year, I would have been surprised by her success. But she really dedicated herself to her running, and by the end of the year I was not surprised. She really improved.”
What makes D’Agostino unique, according to her coach, is her nearly perfect form and her high running IQ. “She’s very mentally tough, she’s a competitor,” says Coogan, a former U.S. Olympic marathoner.
In June 2012, after winning her first NCAA national championship in the 5,000-meter, D’Agostino competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials, taking fifth place with a time of 15:19.98, narrowly missing an Olympic berth. In June 2013, at the U.S. Track & Field Championships, she had hoped to finish in the top three and earn a spot on the U.S. world championship team, but she finished sixth.
While disappointed, D’Agostino talks about it like someone who spent her sophomore summer studying positive psychology, which is exactly what she did—with adviser Mark Detzer, a visiting assistant professor in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and a clinical psychologist at the V.A. Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt. “I learned a lot at the U.S. Championships,” says D’Agostino. “I’d done my very best and I didn’t make the team this time. It was so great to be there with those incredible women and to know there’s something to work toward for next time.”
D’Agostino plans to run professionally after graduation. But for now, the humble runner with the big smile is focused on Dartmouth. “I’m so happy to have another year here to really enjoy this team,” she says.
“Abbey is an amazing combination of talent, passion, and determination,” says Dartmouth Athletic Director Harry Sheehy. “Beyond her athletic and academic accomplishments, the level of care she shows for her teammates and fellow Dartmouth students is remarkable. We hope every student-athlete aspires to the heights she has reached, but we may never have another athlete quite like her.”
Take a run with Abbey in the video below: