Giordano ’16 and Whitehorn ’16 named All-Americans| 6/30/16 5:30pm
Dana Giordano ’16 and Kaitlin Whitehorn ’16 ended their collegiate careers with a whirlwind finish. Both seniors placed third and earned First-Team All-American honors in their respective events at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 11. Giordano completed the 1500-meter race in a school-record 4 minutes, 11.86 seconds, and Whitehorn cleared a height of 5 feet 11 1/2 inches in the high jump.
“Everyone has an idea of how they’d like to finish their careers, and finishing as an All-American is about as good as it gets,”said Barry Harwick ’77, men’s track and field coach.
Giordano, a three-time Ivy League champion in the 1500, came into the final with the top seedtime from the semifinal round two days earlier. With this in mind, she said her goal was to finish in the top eight and become an All-American in her last collegiate race.
After the gun went off for the final, Giordano took off and led for much of the race, with eventual winner Maria Freitas from Mississippi State and runner-up Elise Cranny from Stanford University in close chase.
“It was great publicity for the school, actually, since the race was televised on ESPN,” Harwick said. “She was up at the front and led much of the race, so we were proud that she ran such a great race.”
Giordano placed 23rd in the 5000 in last year’s outdoor national championships and decided it was time to make a change in her final track season.
“The 5K stopped bringing me as much joy as I wanted it to,” Giordano said. “I have always enjoyed faster workouts and my coach and I planned a year long taper to focus on the 1500-meter race this spring. The training is a blast and it has been very rewarding working toward nationals.”
Like Giordano, Whitehorn is a three-time Ivy League champion, and came in as a top contender. In the high jump, Whitehorn cleared the first three heights without a miss, but was unable to clear 1.85 meters in three attempts. Ultimately, she tied for third with Claudia Garcia Jou from Akron University.
“I was excited to return to the outdoor national meet this year,” Whitehorn said. “I wanted to place better than [my 12th-place finish last year] and better than [my seventh-place finish] this year at indoor nationals. I was happy to place third!”
Traveling across the country to the national championships made for a hectic senior week.
“They had to finish their competitions, have the coaches drive them to the Eugene airport, take a red-eye flight, drive to Hanover from the airport and then march at graduation,” Harwick said.
Despite their busy schedules this past spring, competing at the national championships was a truly unique experience for these star athletes.
“Hayward Field is extremely intimidating for a first time competitor, but thankfully I had the experience of bombing two races there to understand that it is just another track just with a lot more fans,” Giordano said. “After I finished my race I immediately saw my dad, coach and a very close friend. It was so surreal having so much joy and love around me and then traveling across the country to graduate.”
Both Giordano and Whitehorn remain unsure of whether they will continue to compete post-collegiately. Whitehorn plans on representing the Big Green, however. at least one more time. She will compete this Friday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. for a spot on Team USA and a chance to compete in Rio.
“If all goes well on Friday, I will definitely compete next year,” Whitehorn said.
Whitehorn will be joined by other Dartmouth alumni competing at the trials, many of whom are also competing in track and field. The team will hold a reception for the athletes and their families as many Dartmouth community members will be watching closely in Eugene.
Regardless of the outcome, both Giordano and Whitehorn are extremely thankful for their experiences competing for the Big Green.
“Everyone has been so supportive of my running and nationals was the most spectacular showing of that. I am so lucky,” Giordano said. “It has been an honor to run for Dartmouth and I have so much hope for the future of Dartmouth running.”
Correction appended (July 6, 2016):
The original version of this article incorrectly reported thatKaitlin Whitehorn ’16 cleared a height of 5.82 meters in the high jump. In fact, she cleared a height of 1.82 meters or 5 feet 11 1/2 inches.