The 2012 college season came to a dramatic close as two Ivy Leaguers — Princeton senior Donn Cabral and Dartmouth sophomore Abbey D’Agostino — were crowned national champions on Saturday.
The first time the League has ever had a male and female champion at the same NCAA Outdoor Championship, Cabral simply powered home a five-second win in the steeplechase, winning in 8:35.44, while D’Agostino’s 5k victory was much more dicey. She took the lead on the bell lap, but began to falter down the homestretch on a blazing hot day in Des Moines. But when Megan Goethals caught up with less than 50 meters to go, D’Ag found her stride and won with a lean in 16:11.34. Geothal was just 3/100ths of a second behind.
Both victories were historic. Cabral became the first Ivy Leaguer to ever win the NCAA steeplechase championship as well as the first Princeton runner to win any NCAA Outdoor crown since 1934, when Bill Bonthron won the mile. Off the track, Tora Harris won the NCAA high jump crown in 2002.
“I wasn’t very happy with the prelims race,” he said, even though he’d posted the top qualifying time. “I spent that night thinking that it was a loss. I wanted to bounce back and bring it when it counts.”
D’Agostino becomes the first non-Harvard Ivy athlete to win a women’s national outdoor title. She joins the select Crimson company of Meredith Rainey (800m in 1989), Brenda Taylor (400m hurdles in 2001) and Dora Gyorffy (high jump in 2001).
“It went out so slow, then it picked up kinda drastically,” D’Agostino said. “Those moves are kind of hard to make … It’s really exciting, especially going into the Trials. I am so thrilled to be doing that. I just finished school this week, so it’s kinda like a fresh start.”
But that’s not all.
Princeton junior Greta Feldman had a great close to her sensational season, taking fifth in the 1,500m run (4:14.76). That’s the highest finish in the event by an Ivy Leaguer since Stephanie Best was third in 1991.
And Columbia freshman Nadia Eke made it four-for-four on Heps All-Americanism today, taking eighth in the triple jump with a (wind-assisted) best of 43-4 1/4. Eke is the first Ivy League woman to earn All-American status in the outdoor triple, although then a Heps’ athlete, Diana Wills of Army did it three times.
Altogether, the Ancient Eight had eight All-Americans as Penn high jumper Maalik Reynolds, Harvard pole vaulter Nico Weiler, Dartmouth steeplechaser Alexi Pappas and Princeton triple jumper Damon McLean earned plaudits earlier.