HANOVER, N.H. – The expectations are there for the Dartmouth women’s cross country team in 2013. With arguably the top women’s distance runner in the nation and a talented group of student-athletes making up the core of the team, this fall is shaping up to be a breakout season for the Big Green.

Few would argue that the successes of Dartmouth will begin with senior Abbey D’Agostino. Heading into the season, the Topsfield, Mass., native is widely regarded across the country as the favorite to finally capture the national title that has eluded her during her collegiate career.

A four-time track champion between indoor and outdoor seasons, D’Agostino has finished third and second, respectively, in the last two cross country national championship meets. But with those previous champions now gone and coming off an incredible string of success in last year’s track seasons, the Big Green co-captain has put herself at the top of the list for this fall’s title hopefuls.

After D’Agostino, head coach Mark Coogan, now in his third year at the helm of the program, has put together a deep team of runners. And come Saturday morning at the season-opening Dartmouth Invitational in Hanover, Coogan will finally have the opportunity to showcase his new-look team.

In 2012, the top freshman runner at the Heptagonal Championship was Dartmouth’s Dana Giordano. Complemented by another strong incoming class of student-athletes, the Big Green are setting themselves up for now as well as future years to come.

One of those talented young runners making her debut this fall is freshman Julie McConville from Hingham, Mass. She will help usher in the Class of 2017, which also features Jennie Cunningham, Meghan Grela, Erin McConnell and Helen Schlachtenhaufen.

But, don’t think that this year’s team is made up of D’Agostino and a group of young runners. In fact, 15 of the 27 student-athletes on the roster are upperclassmen.

Seniors Bridget End, Hannah Rowe, Arianna Vailas, Katelyn Walker and Lindsay Walsh all bring talent and leadership to a Big Green team looking for breakout success in 2013. Juniors like Meggie Donovan and Sarah Delozier and sophomores Christy Rutledge and Abby and Elizabeth Markowitz also should give Dartmouth a formidable threat to win every time they take to the starting line. 

“We’re having a great preseason,” Coogan said. “We just got back from our five-day training session where the team really came together and bonded in addition to putting together some great workouts.

“Because classes haven’t started yet, all the team has to focus on right now is running. When the classes do start, the priorities are going to have to change, but for right now as we get going, all we need to think about is training and competition starting with this weekend,” Coogan added.

That first competition this weekend should serve as a great starting point for the team as it will host the annual Dartmouth Invitational at the Hanover Country Club. The race is set to begin at 10:30 on the women’s 6K course and will feature some of the top teams from across both the region and the country.

The women’s field will include Georgetown, Syracuse, Brown, Northwestern, Bentley and Keene State in addition to the host Big Green. The Hoyas are just one season removed from a national title, while Syracuse and Northwestern are regional powers that challenge on a national level each season.

Saturday’s women’s race will follow the men’s 8K meet which will get underway at 10 a.m.

Women's 6K course at the Hanover Country Club.