Competing for the Dartmouth Big Green, Abbey D’Agostino has carved an athletic legacy that makes her one of the greatest athletes, male or female, to compete for the Ivy League school. Running for head coach Mark Cogan, she has established herself as more than just a team captain, but a big sister and a supporter for her teammates.
As the 2012 NCAA Division I champion in the 5000m, she missed a spot on the 2012 US Summer Games team by a mere 0.19 seconds behind Kim Conley. She was two seconds out of third for a spot on the US team for the 2013 World Championships as she was still in contention at the final lap.
While she is still primed for a chance to compete at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, she is only getting better. Working on improving her kick, the ability to improve without the pressure of a Summer Games or World Championships should pay dividends.
In reflecting on her storied NCAA career, it seems that the only thing D’Agostino knows how to do is win. Having won the 2013 Indoor Nationals in the 3000 and 5000m races, she can run the mile in a remarkable 4:30.03. Her indoor title was the first by an Ivy League athlete in 11 years.
Of note, her 5000m title in 2012 marked the first time in 15 years that a Dartmouth track and field athlete earned a national title. Adam Nelson claimed a title in shot put in 1997. In addition, she is the first Dartmouth female track and field athlete to win a national title. She is also the fourth-ever Ivy League track and field competitor to have multiple national championships.
Having won three national titles in 2013 (3000m outdoor and the 5000 m both outdoor and indoor), makes her the first Ivy Leaguer to accomplish such a feat. She is also the first American woman to win the 3000m and 5000m in an NCAA career. With back-to-back titles in the 5000m, it makes her the first runner since Valerie McGovern of Kentucky to achieve the double. Ironically, McGovern also won the 5000m indoor and outdoor in the same year.
Running is certainly in her blood. Her mother Donna was an All-American in college for UMass-Dartmouth and ran the mile in 5:03, while Abbey’s sister Lily is a runner for the University of Connecticut Huskies. Of note, her father Eric competes in triathlons while Donna is still active in marathons.
Ironically, when Abbey was recruited out of high school by Dartmouth coach Maribel Sanchez, she was struggling to break the five-minute mark in the mile with Masconomet Regional High School. Sidelined by mononucleosis one year and an iron deficiency another year, the 5’2” spitfire did not seem to have the make-up of a national champion.
Entering the Dartmouth program in 2010, there certainly were rookie jitters for D’Agostino. With Sanchez pregnant, Cogan entered the picture as the new coach. Having competed at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, Cogan showed patience with his freshman runner. Despite increasing her training mileage to 45, ankle woes derailed her season. By the time of her first race in autumn 2010, she finished a disappointing 75th place.
The spring offered reason to believe as Cogan noticed her practice times increasing. Suddenly, a third-place finish at nationals resulted in a personal record of 15:40. It would serve as the springboard for a third-place run at the NCAA Cross Country championships.
Majoring in psychology, the thought process and mental preparation are complementing her skills on the track. The need to stay positive and not get nervous during a race is just as essential as the training required to win a race. As racing leads to significant physical strain, the ability to think positively and not be discouraged cultivates the confidence needed to become a champion.
As the proud owner of four Dartmouth running records (1 mile indoor, DMR, 3000m and 5000m), the list of awards and honors are a mile long. In 2012, she was recognized as the USTFCCCA National Outdoor Track Female Scholar Athlete of the Year along with their Division I Cross Country Female Scholar Athlete of the Year Award.
Dartmouth also recognized her with their prestigious Class of 1976 Award, given to the Top Female Student-Athlete. Earning four First-Team All-America nods for Cross Country, Indoor DMR, Indoor 3000m, Outdoor 5000m, she would also be recognized in 2013 with another remarkable honor. Awarded the 2013 USTFCCA Women’s Division I Track Scholar of the Year for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, teammates applaud her for her humility, team-first approach and friendship.