In a bittersweet finish to an extraordinary college running career, seven-time national champion in track and cross-country Abbey D’Agostino ’14 finished third in the 5,000 meter at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championships in Eugene, Ore.
Wearing the Dartmouth uniform for the last time, D’Agostino, from Topsfield, Mass., was in a large pack of runners that got out to a slow start for the first mile of the 3.1-mile event. But halfway through the race, Aisling Cuffe, a Stanford University junior, moved to the lead and quickened the pace considerably. Marielle Hall from the University of Texas followed Cuffe, as did D’Agostino, and the three quickly established a large gap over the rest of the field.
With two laps to go, Cuffe and Hall both looked smooth while D’Agostino’s face showed signs of strain. In the last lap, Hall sprinted to the lead and won in 15:35.11. Cuffe took second in 15:37.74.
D’Agostino, normally a fast finisher, could not keep pace and finished in 15:43.54.
“We knew it was going to be a close race,” said Mark Coogan, Dartmouth’s assistant coach in charge of the distance programs. “It’s a great field. I was just hoping that if she felt great, she would outkick them. She has a better kick than those guys, but it just wasn’t there today.
“Those other two girls ran great. I just thought Abbey looked tired. I don’t want to make any excuses, but with graduation and all the stuff for school, there did seem to be a lot of pressure on her this time. Maybe it was just kind of eating at her a little bit. She never looked really relaxed.”
D'Agostino Race Is Community Event
It was a special–and unusual–Reunion week event as Dartmouth alumni and community members gathered at Memorial Field to watch Abbey D’Agostino ’14 compete in her final race for Dartmouth. Read more.
D’Agostino, who graduated on Sunday, earned her 13th All-American award. In her four years at the outdoor championships, she picked up a third place in the 5,000 meter her freshman year, which signaled her arrival as a national contender. She won the event her sophomore and junior years, and now bookends her career with another third place.
Because D’Agostino has won so many college races and so many accolades, anything other than a first-place finish feels like a surprise. “No excuses or anything,” said Eric D’Agostino, her father. “Hey, she got beat, that’s all. She’s human. To some extent, she lulled us all to sleep thinking she’s unbeatable. Obviously, no one is unbeatable.”
His daughter has loved wearing the Dartmouth uniform he said. “I think she was probably a little sad to know that it was the last time.”
D’Agostino was composed as she met with the media, who asked how she wanted to be remembered as a college athlete. “One thing that comes to mind is just representing the potential of an Ivy League athlete,” she said. “There’s a lot asked of us and I felt I was both a student and an athlete at the same time. I learned a lot about advocating for myself and asking a lot of myself, and leaning on those around me. It sounds sort of cliché, but I really had to learn that. And so I’m excited to take that and apply it to the next stage.”
The details about the next stage should be coming shortly. D’Agostino is likely to sign a professional contract within the week, and her coach expects her next race to be the 5,000 meter at U.S. outdoor championships on June 27 in Sacramento, Calif.
Coogan doesn’t worry that the disappointment from tonight’s race will linger. “She just rolls with the punches,” he said.
Her father agrees. “The focus is on the future,” he said. “This closes an unbelievable chapter.”