Can Anyone Possibly Beat Abbey D’Agostino? NCAA Women’s Cross-Country Individual Preview

by LetsRun.com
November 20, 2013

Undoubtedly by now, as a loyal LetsRun.com reader who reads all of the articles and clicks on all of the ads, you’ve read our 2013 NCAA Men’s Cross-Country individual preview, where Kennedy Kithuka is anointed as the overwhelming favorite, the choice of nearly 97% of the fans.

The women’s side is very similar to the men’s. Of the first 100 women’s vote in our contest, Abbey D’Agostino garnered 97 first place votes. So 97% favorites on both the men’s and women’s side.

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D’Agostino was the runner-up last year to Betsy Saina but no one within 14 seconds of her finishing time from last year returns. Everyone else graduated.

D’Agostino was bound to come into 2013 as the big favorite, particularly after she became the first American to win NCAA 5,000 and 3,000 titles indoors in a career (let alone the same meet) in Arkansas. She then failed to make the US team for the Moscow World Championships. That failure actually helped her in terms of NCAA XC, as the most likely way for her to lose this was if she made Worlds, had to run through August, and got a limited buildup for cross-country.

D’Agostino Has Been Unchallenged So Far This Year

D’Agostino got a full buildup and has been great this year, winning every race she’s run. She won Paul Short by 26 seconds, the adidas Wisconsin meet by 13 seconds (which included LRC fans’ #3 pick Emily Sisson), the Ivy League championships by 40 seconds (which included studs Waverly Neer (US junior indoor 5k record holder and 2011 XC All-American) and Rachel Sorna (3-season All-American last year), and the Northeast Regionals by 11 seconds (which included Sisson yet again).

With those results and a 15:11 5,000 PR, could she possibly lose?

The answer to that question is, as always, yes. Anything is possible. Winning as a heavy favorite isn’t easy. Anyone remember when Jenny Barringer bombed as a 3:59 woman in 2009 and finished 169th in a race where she simply “lost her head?” If someone as good as Barringer with as good of a coach as Wetmore can do it, then it’s possible for D’Agostino, who is guided by Olympian Mark Coogan.

Early voting Results
Women’s Individual Poll
1. Abbey D’Agostino (129) – Dartmouth SR-4 1333
2. Emma Bates (3) – Boise State JR-3 884
3. Emily Sisson – Providence SR-4 825
4. Aisling Cuffe – Stanford JR-3 582
5. Marielle Hall (1) – Texas SR-4 485
6. Colleen Quigley – Florida State JR-3 454
7. Elvin Kibet – Arizona SR-4 260
8. Emily Lipari – Villanova SR-4 226
9. Juliet Bottorff – Duke SR-4 223
10. Shalaya Kipp – Colorado SR-4 206
11. Laura Hollander – Cal Poly SO-2 203
12. Sarah Collins – Providence SO-2 188
13. Cally Macumber – Kentucky SR-4 179
14. Shelby Houlihan – Arizona State JR-3 154
15. Kelsey Santisteban (1) – California JR-3 111
16. Emily Stites – William and Mary SO-2 108
17. Elaina Balouris – William and Mary SR-4 97
18. Katie Flood – Washington SR-4 91
19. Erin Finn – Michigan FR-1 90
20. Cory McGee – Florida SR-4 74

Don’t count on it. We’ve been debating all week who is the bigger favorite, D’Agostino or Kithuka?

We’d say D’Agostino simply because women’s running isn’t as deep as men’s. D’Agostino’s 15:11 5,000 last spring was 22 seconds faster than anyone else running at NCAAs this year and that person, Megan Goethals of Washington (15:33), isn’t winning as she was just 50th at the West Regional.

The only other person within 30 seconds, yes THIRTY, seconds of D’Agostino in the 5,000 last spring was Providence’s Emily Sisson (15:39). As mentioned above, she’s the #3 pick in the LRC fans polls but the 2013 Big East champ has lost to D’Agostino twice already this year.

But if you like upsets, we (and LRC fans poll as well) say the upset pick is Boise State’s Emma Bates.

Why? Because Bates is a true 10,000 runner. The third placer at NCAAs in the 10k last spring may be helped by the fact that with the slop in Terre Haute on Saturday, the 6k course may run a bit longer, more like an 8k course. And D’Agostino is a 5,000 runner who is better on the track than in xc. Remember D’Agostino destroyed Saina on the track last year but lost to her in XC.

Bates has been running well this spring as she won Pre-Nats and the West Regional, and she’s undefeated on the year against collegiate competition.

So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance?

Bates has a chance. But before you talk yourself into picking Bates, please realize the victories at Pre-Nats and the West Regional were narrow victories and that Bates lost to high schooler Alexa Efraimson in her season opener in Oregon.

Ask yourself, can someone who lost to a HSer earlier this season beat the great Abbey D’Agostino?

Cally Macumber (r), shown at last night’s NCAA banquet, is the top returner not named D’Agostino. 2013 NCAA Cross Country Banquet Photos.

We’ll answer that for you. Astute observers would say, “Yes, it’s possible. Remember, Mary Cain lost a cross-country race to a high schooler last year in the slop at NXN and Mary Cain is more accomplished than D’Agostino.”

The next top returner from the 2012 NCAA cross-country championships is Kentucky’s Cally Macumber, who was sixth last year, but we don’t think she’ll be that high this year as she was just 7th at SECs.

Big 12 champ Marielle Hall has garnered a first place vote by some fan looking for a huge upset. The third placer at Wisconsin and South Central regional champ was 23rd last year and has a 5,000 PR of 16:22.

Overall Verdict: There is a good reason why 97 of the first 100 votes went to D’Agostino. Considering she’s from New England and goes to Dartmouth, we don’t think she’ll be bothered by the cold.

We’ll see how she handles the slop. We definitely think that is an equalizer. In the end, we think it will be closer than people might expect but think D’Agostino will win.

Now … upset alert – if Bates is close at the end, don’t just assume because of D’Agostino’s track times that she takes the title, as Bates passed several people in stretch to win Pre-Nats.

Check back later for our NCAA women’s team preview. We’ll have that after talking to the coaches at the press conference.

D’Agostino at last year’s NCAAs. 2012 NCAA XC Photos

More: 2013 NCAA Cross-Country Championships Event Coverage

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