Abbey D'Agostino demolishes field at Paul Short Run

by Matt Stanton | 9/30/12 10:00pm

After three weeks without competition, the Dartmouth men's and women's cross country teams were eager and prepared to return to action at the Paul Short Run hosted by Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., on Friday. On the men's side, top harrier Will Geoghegan '14 finished fifth individually to lead the Big Green to a fourth-place team finish. Abbey D'Agostino '14 coasted to a win in the women's race by 24 seconds, helping the Dartmouth women to a fifth-place team finish.

Geoghegan finished the eight-kilometer course in 24:15, only two seconds behind fourth-place finisher Samuel McEntee of Villanova University. Georgetown University's Mark Dennin won the race in 23:57. Villanova took home the team title with 69 points.

"I'm very happy with how the race ended up," Geoghegan said. "Paul Short is a huge race with over 300 runners, so getting off the starting line fast and getting out in the front of the main pack was important. From there, it was all about staying with the lead pack and not letting go."

Dartmouth men's coach Barry Harwick was equally pleased.

"Will's race displayed the elite running level he showed throughout his high school career," Harwick said. "He worked very hard this summer, is in great shape and is talented enough to be the leader on this team."

Lehigh's course is mostly flat with some rolling hills, though rain before the race made the usually firm ground muddy. The Big Green successfully got into the front pack early. At the one-mile mark of the race, Dartmouth was winning, led by Geoghegan and John Bleday '14 in first and second places.

"After three weeks of solid training, I felt confident going into Paul Short," Bleday said. "I got out fast, but unfortunately died later on. It's tough to fight back from that, but you can't give up if you want good results."

Bleday finished 22nd overall in 24:35 as the team's second finisher, just in front of Jonathan Gault '13 (29th, 24:40). Following a difficult opening race at the Dartmouth Invitational, Dylan O'Sullivan '15 bounced back with an impressive 59th-place finish (25:03). Phil Royer '13, Mike Danaher '13 and Adam Doherty '13 rounded out the top seven for the Big Green, finishing in 60th (25:03), 62nd (25:04) and 70th (25:11) places, respectively.

The clustered finish of the Big Green runners catapulted Dartmouth up the standings to a fourth-place finish (175 points), ahead of Providence College (194) and Ivy League foes Cornell University (202), Yale University (255) and Columbia University (309). Thirty-seven teams raced in the meet.

"The hope going into the meet was to mix it up and beat a couple of the big name schools at the meet, like Georgetown or Villanova," Bleday said. "While we didn't accomplish that goal, we did beat a good Providence team and the entire Ivy League."

In the women's six-kilometer race, D'Agostino won by 24 seconds in 19:58 to maintain her dominant form in 2012. The junior has not lost to a collegiate runner since the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in March. Cornell's Katie Kellner finished second and Providence freshman Sarah Collins finished third, just a second behind Kellner.

"My plan going in was to stay with the front pack and take the lead when I felt comfortable," D'Agostino said. "I was feeling steady and controlled through the first half of the race, so at about the halfway point I decided to make a push at the first gradual hill. Knowing how often we run hills in Hanover, I felt I could out-strength my competitors there."

D'Agostino's strategy made Dartmouth women's coach Mark Coogan proud.

"Abbey's race was really impressive considering she hasn't really amped up her training yet," Coogan said. "The other teams out there racing had been competing for three straight weeks, while we've just been training. If Abbey can keep this up as she ratchets up her training, she could be really dangerous later on in the season."

Coogan also remarked on the stellar performances of the team's freshmen and Sarah DeLozier '15, who Coogan said ran the "best race of her Dartmouth career."

"It was great to see the freshmen pushing each other and willing each other on in the race," Coogan said. "Sarah's race was a testament to the hard work she put in over the summer it's awesome to see her mixing it up with some of the best runners in the country."

Following D'Agostino, rookie harriers Christie Rutledge '16 and Dana Giordano '16 finished second and third for the Big Green in 22nd (20:58) and 24th places (20:59) overall, separated by a mere second. DeLozier finished in 48th place (21:20), followed closely by Hannah Rowe '14 in 54th place (21:24). Sarah Bennett '16 and Kate Sullivan '13 rounded out Dartmouth's top seven in 86th (21:57) and 112th (22:12) places, respectively.

"Christie and I worked together to get a good result," Giordano said. "She came up behind me and we pushed each other to the finish. I've never raced in a big college meet like that before, so I'm really happy with how things ended up."

Overall, Cornell obliterated the field of 40 teams, winning with a mere 55 points. The College of William and Mary placed second with 102 points, followed closely by Georgetown (106 points), Yale (147) and Dartmouth (149).

When asked about Dartmouth's standing in the Ivy League, D'Agostino said that Cornell is a powerhouse right now, but noted that it's still early in the season. A lot can change in four weeks when the Ivy League Championships, known as the Heptagonal Championships, or Heps, take place at Princeton University.

"If our top seven runners can all race well on the same day and pick off a few more runners than they normally would, then that can do some major damage in the team scoring," O'Sullivan said.

Looking ahead, both the men's and women's teams will send a contingent to compete at the New England Championships on Sunday in Westfield, Mass. The top seven runners on each team will rest up for the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 12. Because of the large number of entries there will be 47 men's teams and 45 women's teams at the meet the races could end up being more competitive than the NCAA Championships, which are capped at 31 teams.

This year is the first time the Big Green will participate in the meet's four-year existence.

Sullivan is a member of The Dartmouth Staff. Gault is a member of The Dartmouth Senior Staff.