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November 25, 2013

Topsfield's D'Agostino wins NCAA cross country championship; Rocha leads Friars to team title

Abbey D’Agostino made history Saturday afternoon, while Catarina Rocha helped Providence College win a national title at the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country National Championships at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

Topsfield’s D’Agostino, a senior captain at Dartmouth College, became the first Ivy League cross country champion (male or female). She used a superb finish to beat her nearest competitor, Emma Bates of Boise State, in a time of 20:00.3 over the 6K LaVern Gibson Course at Wabash Valley Family Sports Center.

D’Agostino had to put on a late burst to come from behind and overtake Kate Avery of Iona, who shot out to a big lead while the rest of the pack hung back. But the former high school superstar at Masconomet Regional overtook the leader and outran everyone in the final 2,000 meters.

This has been a sensational year for D’Agostino, who has now won five national championships in three track seasons (1,500 and 3,000 indoors, 5,000 outdoors and two cross country titles). That’s two more individual crowns than any Ivy League track athlete has ever earned.

D’Agostino, recently named the Northeast Regional Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA (United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) for the third time, is a 10-time All-American and counting, with two more seasons to go before she graduates from Dartmouth.

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Providence College won the women’s national championship with the help of Rocha, a freshman from Peabody. She was the Friars’ fourth finisher in Terre Haute, taking 62nd place overall in 20:59.

The Friars, who were ranked No. 1 in the country coming into the race, finished with 141 points.

The weather was less than ideal, but runners braved the cold and wind on the rain-soaked course. Rocha’s parents, Joe and Gina, were on hand to watch their daughter and her team celebrate.

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