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Big Green Runs to NCAA Meet

  • Abbey_DAgostino_Heps14_DA.jpg

    Abbey_DAgostino_Heps14_DA.jpg

  • Will_Geoghegan4_Heps14_DA.jpg

    Will_Geoghegan4_Heps14_DA.jpg

  • Abbey_DAgostino_Heps14_DA.jpg
  • Will_Geoghegan4_Heps14_DA.jpg

Hanover — You’ll have to excuse Barry Harwick if he seems to be smiling a lot more these days. After what Harwick has seen from his Dartmouth College runners this indoor season, it’s surprising the coach didn’t take a victory lap himself after the team’s showing at the Ivy Heptagonal Championships in Leverone Field House.

With the regular season done, Dartmouth’s runners now turn their attention to this weekend’s NCAA meet in Albuquerque, N.M., where the Big Green will be represented by seven runners — the most the program has ever sent to the championships.

“This indoor season, well, there’s been a phenomenal thing going on,” said Harwick proudly, sitting in his office in Alumni Gym surrounded by hallways of plaques heralding his team’s historic successes. “Everyone on the team has something exceptional going on.”

What’s been going on was in full view two weekends ago, when Harwick watched his runners rack up individual and team accomplishments of record proportion — culminating with a best-ever second place for the women at the Heps, including the most points (102) a Big Green team ever recorded at the meet.

Check out some of these accomplishments:

∎ Reigning star Abbey D’Agostino was named the meet’s outstanding female track athlete after wins in the mile and 5,000 meters, plus a leg on the winning medley relay.

∎ Senior Janae Dunchack won the women’s pentathlon title for the fourth straight year.

∎ Megan Krumpoch won the 800 meters in school-record time — all the more impressive coming from an athlete better known for accomplishments as a hurdler.

∎ Steve Mangan qualified for the NCAA meet by winning the Heps mile. A former ski team member and cross country runner, Mangan won the race in meet-record time even though it was the first year he had ever run indoor track.

“We had some seniors who wanted to go out with a bang, and they did,” Harwick said. “The Heps rotate around the league, so you get to host every four years.

“It was important for our program to do well when we host. It also brings name recognition for your school.”

Along with Mangan, Krumpoch and D’Agostino, the senior group also boasts the talent of Will Geoghegan, a cross country All-American. All Geoghegan has done is set a school and Ivy indoor mile record (3 minutes, 58.4 seconds), while also being the school record holder in the 3,000 (7:51.57).

“We have four different guys who have run a 4:01 or better in the mile. That’s never happened in the Ivy League before,” said Harwick, pointing to his runners’ good health and consistent training.

“I guess you can say we’ve taken four years to become an overnight success.”

While his seniors have carried the program to today’s heights, it is the young runners who will continue the tradition in the future, and Harwick will be taking three sophomores to the NCAA meet as members of the distance medley relay.

The group includes Liz Markowitz, Jen Meech, the indoor league champion in the 200 (24.64) and Dana Giordano, an All-American in cross country and the league champion in indoor 3,000 (9:21.77).

Harwick expects his group to perform well at the national meet. He points to the group’s senior leadership, runners who have been in big meets before.

“It’s a special feeling to be part of an NCAA event, but we just have to remember we are here to accomplish things, not just to enjoy ourselves,” said the 22nd-year-coach. “None of the others are favorites like Abbey (who won both races at nationals last year). but they need to look at it that if they do well, they can be an All-American.”

The meet will run Friday and Saturday with D’Agostino’s 5,000-meter final starting at 10:45 p.m. on Friday, with the women’s 3,000 final on Saturday at 9:40 p.m.

While the Heps served as a critical tuneup to the national championships, there is nothing the athletes can do to prepare for running at altitude this weekend.

As Harwick explained, where you see the effects of running at altitude is in the race times — usually coming in slower than what the runners have previously recorded in races at sea level.

“But in this kind of meet, we’re not concerned with time as much as with placement,” he said.

Harwick’s warning is to be a little more careful about pacing during races at high altitude. But as for any specific recommendations, Harwick just shrugs.

“When the ski team went to Utah for the NCAA’s, they left 10 days earlier to acclimate,” he said. “We don’t have that time, so we found that the best way to deal with the altitude is to get in and get out as quickly as we can.

“We’ll be there less than 48 hours, so it shouldn’t affect us a lot.”

Don Mahler can be reached at dmahler@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.