D'Agostino finishes second at Nationals

by Josh Koenig | 11/13/12 4:00pm

Abbey D'Agostino '14 finished second at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Saturday at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., completing the six-kilometer course in 19:28.6, less than a second behind Iowa State University's Betsy Saina (19:27.9).

D'Agostino outkicked Jordan Hasay of the University of Oregon for second to improve on her third-place showing from a year ago. Also finishing in the top 10 was Alexi Pappas '12, now representing Oregon as a graduate student, who helped her new school claim the team championship over second-place Providence College.

In a race that ran tight throughout the entire course, the race came down to a four-person sprint over the course's final straightaway. D'Agostino, Saina, Hasay and Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton of Wichita State University were stride for stride off the final turn before Tuliamuk-Bolton dropped, leaving just D'Agostino, Saina and Hasay.

In the end it was Saina, the reigning NCAA Indoor champion at the 5,000 meters, that prevailed, with D'Agostino nipping Hasay (19:28.6) at the line for second. The finish was eerily similar to last year's race, when Sheila Reid of Villanova University dropped Hasay and D'Agostino to win her second consecutive title. The only difference was that in 2011, the places were reversed, with Hasay taking second and D'Agostino third. Saina, an All-American last season, finished ninth last year at the national championships.

Tuliamuk-Bolton finished nearly five seconds behind Hasay in fourth, with another eight seconds between the Witchita State harrier and fifth-place finisher Risper Kimaiyo of the University of Texas at El Paso.

With her second-place finish, D'Agostino capped off a highly successful, albeit injury-troubled, season. D'Agostino repeated as Northeast Regional Champion last weekend after missing more than a month while injured, in the process earning the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Northeast Regional Women's Athlete of the Year award for the second season in a row. Before her injury, D'Agostino also captured individual victories at the Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 8, and the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Penn., on Sept. 28. With her strong finish at nationals, D'Agostino will be named an All-American for the sixth time.

Pappas improved from a subpar outing at the West Regional last weekend to finish eighth overall in 19:43.9. Pappas finished third in the team scoring to help the Oregon women win their first title since 1987. Oregon scored 114 points to runner-up Providence's 183. Two Ivy League teams competed in the meet, as Cornell University finished 13th with 385 points, while Harvard University finished last in the 31-team field with 676 points.

D'Agostino was the only Ivy League runner in the top 30, as the closest finisher, Rachel Sorna of Cornell, came across in 34th place (20:12). D'Agostino was Dartmouth's only representative at the meet, as the Big Green failed to qualify as a team.

On the men's side, Ivy squads Princeton University (11th, 358 points) and Columbia (17th, 439 points) both ran well. Ivy League cross country champion Chris Bendtsen of Princeton was the first Ivy finisher in 43rd place, completing the 10-kilometer course in 30:07.6. Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech University won the individual title in a course-record 28:31.3, while Oklahoma State University took its third team title in four years with 72 points, well clear of last year's champions, the University of Wisconsin, who finished second with 135 points.