By Jean DePlacido
---- — There is no doubt about it; Abbey D’Agostino is in a class by herself. With every NCAA championship she runs in, the Topsfield native continues to make history.
Last weekend at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico, site of the NCAA Division 1 national championships, the Dartmouth College senior successfully defended her titles in both the 5000 and 3000 meter events.
This marked the sixth and seventh individual championships for D’Agostino — three more than any Ivy League female athlete has ever achieved in 131 years. She is also the first female to ever win the two distance events at the same meet two years in a row.
D’Agostino had to come from behind to win the 5000 last Friday night after Michigan’s Erin Finn built up a big lead in the early going. The former Masconomet Regional star led the chase pack and made her move with around six laps remaining. Duke’s Juliet Bottorff challenged her and went ahead, but D’Agostino regained the lead and finished strong to win (16:20.39).
“Both races, especially the 5K, didn’t go according to plan, but I had confidence I could do it,” said D’Agostino. “I’ve had enough experience in big races that I could react. I closed the gap, but didn’t want to do it too rapidly and waste energy.
“I caught (Finn) and took the lead with 600 meters to go, but then the girl from Duke came up to challenge me. We went back and forth before I took it back for good with 300 meters left. I had to press myself and although I didn’t want to do any leading, I wound up leading the chase pack. I just tried to stay calm and wait for the best time to move up.”
On Saturday night in the shorter 3000 meter race, D’Agostino made history by winning in 9:14:47. Her two big victories helped the Big Green tie for seventh place as a team.
“I was in the second lane most of the race, so I had to do a lot of extra work,” she said. “It was a tight pack and I didn’t want to be behind at 400 meters because there were a lot of strong milers in the field.
“It’s still sinking in what I accomplished. I always try to take it one race at a time; I didn’t want to think about having the opportunity to double again. I concentrated on the 5K, and when that was over started to think about the next one to use the opportunity to do what I love.”
Because of the high elevation in Albuquerque, the pace was a bit slower but it didn’t bother D’Agostino.
“It was interesting to run at that altitude,” she said. “It can be a mental barrier if you allow it to be.
“Coming off the win in the 5K I was confident I could do it in the 3K. It’s demanding to do both races back-to-back and hard to double, but funny how many people do both. There was definitely a lot of talent in the field.”
Now home for spring break, D’Agostino is looking forward to relaxing while gearing herself up for Dartmouth’s spring season.
“I can’t believe it will be my last (season) at Dartmouth,” she said. “I’m not going to race a lot because of my summer schedule. I’ll stick with the 5K with a few 1500s and hopefully a relay.”
Two other local track and field stars also earned All-American honors over the weekend.
Boston University senior Monica Adler of Manchester, who starred at Beverly High, also achieved All-American status by finishing eighth in the mile event in 4:40.87. The Patriot League champ qualified for her first national appearance at BU’s Last Chance Meet earlier this month when she ran 4:36.35 and came very close to setting a new school record.
In the Division 3 nationals at Lincoln, Neb., Bates College junior Sean Enos was a two time All-American in the 35-pound weight throw (where he placed 8th) as well as in the shot put, where he finished second behind Colt Feltes of Wartburg (57-8 ¼). Enos, a former St. John’s Prep standout, is now a three time All-American, earning his first last spring in the discus (placing 4th).