Running is not like other sports, there is truly no offseason. Collegiate runners go from doing base training in the summer, to the cross country season in the fall, immediately followed by the indoor track and field season and then the final sprint to the outdoor track and field championships.
Abbey D'Agostino has excelled year round.
If there is a downside to such success, it might be that it doesn't leave much time to savor the victories you get. D'Agostino had only three days to celebrate her individual win at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships before it was on to training for the next endeavor.
Not that D’Agostino really needed any time get accustomed to being national champion. In the calendar year 2013 alone, D’Agostino won four national titles, including her cross country win. She also won titles in the 3000m indoor, 5000m indoor and 5000 outdoor.
This most recent one, however, took some battling.
D’Agostino is a senior at Dartmouth. Winning the individual title in Terra Haute, Ind., in 2013 was a long time coming for her. In her sophomore year, D’Agostino took third at the 2011 NCAAs. The next year, following an ankle injury, she fought all the way back to runner-up. This past season, the title became hers.
‘It felt so incredible to finally win the individual title,” D’Agostino said. “There were very trying conditions that day. It was so cold and muddy, but we are hearty -- we are from Hanover. But being right back in Terra Haute put me in the right mindset.”In cross country, in addition to the national title, D’Agostino won all six cross country races she competed in during the fall season. She became the winningest Ivy League athlete of all time in terms of individual titles long ago, breaking the record set in 1883. She is also the only Ivy League athlete to garner a distance championship.
In the face of such success, D'Agostino also knows there's responsibilty tied to being -- in a way -- the face of Ivy League athletes.
‘It is a huge honor to be able to represent this special group of student-athletes," she said. "It feels so good to be able to feel the support of the faculty and staff.”
Support has been a driving force during D’Agostino’s nearly 10-year running career.
Running for D’Agostino was started and encouraged along the way by her teammates.
In high school, Abbey was a swimmer. As a ninth-grader, she decided to join the cross-country team to stay in shape during the offseason and was immediately hooked. It was not only the sport, but the girls on the team really made her love it.The strong sisterhood of team followed her to college and ultimately to Dartmouth.
“I chose to come to Dartmouth after my overnight visit,” D’Agostino said. “I was never planning to attend but I visited it because I was interested. The girls sold me. They were so welcoming and genuine. And I could tell they wanted me here. It was the first campus I got a feeling at. They always said I would ‘just know’ and I finally believed that after coming [to Dartmouth].”
And because of her teammates now, training and running has truly become a joy for D’Agostino.
“My teammates are where it’s at,” she jokes. “On the team we have a good balance of seriousness and goofiness. This has become so important to me and helps me not take it too seriously. I think we’ve all come to appreciate that.”
“Also, because we are Ivy League, none of us are getting scholarships, so you know we all are there because we want to be there. And because of this there is very little intra-squad competition.”
One thing D’Agostino is looking for upon leaving Dartmouth is another team to train with.
“I want to become a professional runner,” D’Agostino said. “Goals as of now are to find a running team, because I hate training alone. I am not able to make any decisions right now, and that is good because I want to enjoy the rest of senior year.”
D’Agostino is already focused on her goals for her final track season at Dartmouth – the top of the list improving her time in speed races.
Life for Abbey is like it always has been -- just keep running.