Dartmouth’s Top Ten Athletes, Part I

Coming in at #7, distance runner Abbey D'Agostino '14 is the most recent student-athlete to make our list.

Coming in at #7, distance runner Abbey D’Agostino ’14 is the most recent student-athlete to make our list.

Dartmouth is first and foremost a highly regarded academic institution. With Ivy league prestige and widespread alumni making a difference around the world, people sometimes forget that dartmouth has a rich history in the athletic world as well. To celebrate the great men and women of Dartmouth sports, we at The Dartmouth Review present the top ten best athletes in Dartmouth history.

Honorable Mention; Dalyn Williams ‘16 – Football

In 2015, the Dartmouth Big Green football team won its eighteenth Ivy League Championship. To commemorate such an amazing accomplishment, we decided to take a look at the stellar career of the team’s key component, quarterback Dalyn Williams.

Williams is a lethal dual-threat quarterback whose mastery of the spread offense made Dartmouth one of the most exciting teams to watch from 2014 to 2015. In those two years, Dartmouth’s high powered offense finished in the top three in the Ivy League in scoring and yardage. Big pass plays and Houdini-like elusiveness on the ground made Dartmouth football a can’t-miss spectacle. In 2014, the Big Green was in prime position for an Ivy League title before losing to Harvard and finishing with an 8-2 record. The wins accompanied by the elite play of the team began changing the football culture around campus. Dartmouth football became more than just a whisper among students. As senior captain in 2015, Williams and the team brought even more excitement to Memorial Stadium. Dartmouth won by double digits against seven of its ten opponents averaging 30 points per game. Though the team had to travel to Boston to face Harvard, many jumped on buses and followed the team, actually outnumbering the Harvard fans. Dartmouth fought valiantly leading 13-0 for most of the game but ultimately lost with the heartbreaker 14-13. However with a 9-1 record, Williams led the Big Green to their eighteenth Ivy League title (the first since 1996). He finishes his career with multiple Dartmouth passing records including career passing yards (7,458), and career total offensive yards (8,952) both previously held by former NFL quarterback Jay Fiedler. Williams was only two passing touchdowns shy of Fiedler’s career record of 58. However a career touchdown-to-interception ratio 56-13 is still pretty good. On the ground, he rushed for 1,494 yards and 19 touchdowns. With NFL aspirations, Dalyn Williams will continue to make his mark in the football world. Maybe one day, he’ll crack the top ten.

Numbers 10-6

  1. Jack Shea ‘34- Speed Skating

When he arrived at Dartmouth in the late 1920s, Jack “The Chief” Shea was already a decorated speed skater with three junior international championships and a North American championship under his belt. But dominating the competition in the Western Hemisphere wasn’t enough for Jack, he wanted to show that he could compete with the best skaters in the world.  So during his sophomore year, he decided to take some time off from school to prepare for the 1932 Olympics, which happened to be held in his hometown of Lake Placid, NY. Before the games, the hometown hero was bestowed the honor of taking the Olympic oath and bearing the flag for the United States in the opening ceremony.

On the first day of competition, Jack entered the 500 meter race as one of the favorites, but was certainly not expected to beat the top Norwegians, no less defending Olympic champion Bernt Evensen of Norway. However, two major factors played in Jack’s favor: the first being his home-ice advantage, and the second being the format of the race. Instead of the traditional European (and Olympic) format of two skaters simultaneously racing against the clock in separate lanes, the events would be carried out in the North American Pack-format, which yielded a more tactical and personal type of race. In the end, Jack was able to beat out an immensely strong field to claim gold with a time of 43.4 seconds, finishing five meters ahead of the second place Evensen.

Days later, Jack followed up his incredible victory with another, taking gold in the 1500 meter after the race’s leader fell with a few laps remaining. Ultimately, the only thing able to stop Jack from winning more in Lake Placid was the rules: athletes were only allowed to enter in two skating events. Had he been allowed to compete in the grueling 5000m and 10000m races, many, including Jack himself, believed that he would have medaled in those events as well.

After defeating, dismaying, and shocking his Norwegian opponents, Jack was given the opportunity to compete in Norway on the biggest professional skating stage in the world. But the forward-looking Jack decided instead to return to Dartmouth, where he could study to attain a more lucrative profession than speed skating. He would eventually win national championships in the two mile and 440 meter races for the Big Green.

Unfortunately, Jack’s path to success did not immediately go as planned. He graduated in 1934, in the midst of the Depression, and was forced to find work as a mailman to support his family. In the meanwhile, Jack continued to train and stay in shape in pursuit of defending his titles at the 1936 games in Berlin. But as the game’s approached, Jack, who was Jewish, was advised by his hometown Rabbi to boycott the games in protest of Hitler’s anti-Semitic regime. Jack’s decision to heed this advice was not popular with American skating fans or his Lake Placid neighbors. Most other American athletes decided to compete in Berlin, at the same games where Jesse Owens would win his historic four gold medals.

Jack would never revive his skating career, but his other professional fortunes would soon change. He graduated from Albany Law School and eventually became town Justice of Lake Placid. Later in life, Jack was instrumental in convincing the International Olympic Committee to bring the 1980 games back to Lake Placid, setting the stage for the United States Hockey Team’s massive semifinal upset over Soviet Russia.

  1.  Gillian Apps ‘07- Hockey

One of the two hockey players on this list, Gillian Apps certainly made her mark both at Dartmouth and the Olympics. Gillian, who was born in Ontario, comes from a tremendous hockey lineage. Her grandfather, Syl Apps, is in the Hockey Hall of Fame and won three Stanley Cups in the 1940s as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Her father, Syl Apps Jr., also played in the NHL from 1970 to 1980.

Prior to arriving at Dartmouth, Apps played in the National Women’s Hockey League for the Beatrice Aeros. In 2000 she finished fifth in league scoring with 42 points and won the Ontario senior women’s hockey championship in 2001. In 2002, she made an immediate impact as a freshman finishing with 22 goals, 13 assists, and 35 points despite splitting time between school and the Canadian national team. During her time at Dartmouth, Apps had an aggressive playing style but was still a scoring machine. At six feet and 180 pounds, Apps would utilize her size and speed to stand in front of the net to create chaos and make room for her teammates. She currently holds the record for most penalty minutes with 281 (which is a pretty awesome record in our book), but also accumulated 90 goals, 68 assists, and 158 career points. As team captain her senior season in 2006, Apps led the team with 30 goals and was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award by the New England Hockey Writers. After graduating from Dartmouth, Apps just kept on winning with the Canadian national team. She competed in three Olympic games, (2006 Turin, 2010 Vancouver, and 2014 Sochi) winning gold in all three. Apps put up 21 points in those three contests, 14 of which came in 2006 when she tallied an astounding 7 goals and 7 assists in 5 games. She is currently a member of the Brampton Thunder of the CWHL, continuing to make her family proud.

  1. Andrew Weibrecht ‘09- Alpine Skiing

Since he was born and raised in Lake Placid, New York, it was almost a given that Andrew Weibrecht would take up skiing. The fourth of five siblings, Weibrecht desperately wanted to join his brother Jonathan on the slopes of nearby Whiteface Mountain. At the age of five, he learned to ski from the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) and started his racing training five years later at the Winter Sports School in Park City, Utah.

Weibrecht is known for his aggressive style out of the gate, for which he has earned the nickname “Warhorse”. Fellow alpine ski racer Ted Ligety jokes that Weibrecht is the fastest racer in the world for the first twenty seconds of every race. When he graduated from the Winter Sports School in 2003, Weibrecht made the U.S. Development Team and would go on to compete in the Junior World Championships from 2004 to 2006. He made his World Cup debut in 2006 and has finished in the top ten in every super-g event since. His career defining moment came during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. With a time of 1:30.65, Weibrecht won the bronze medal in the super-g. He was only three hundredths of a second behind U.S. teammate Bode Miller and three tenths of a second behind gold medalist Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway. Such an aggressive and amazing finish put Weibrecht on the cover of Sports Illustrated alongside Lindsay Vonn, Miller, and Julia Mancuso. At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Weibrecht pulled off a “super giant upset” by winning silver in the super-g. With a time of 1:18.44, he bested teammate Bode Miller by nearly two tenths of a second.

As the level of international competition at the Olympics has increased drastically in the last eighty years, Weibrecht gets the nod over Jack Shea as the greatest winter Olympian in Dartmouth history. Now thirty years old and in the midst of his best World Cup season ever, perhaps there is more to come from the great alpine racer.

  1. Abbey D’Agostino ‘14 – Cross Country and Track

Unlike the other athletes on this list, Abbey cracks the top ten almost entirely on the merit of her intercollegiate career at Dartmouth. It was that good. Largely unheralded and lightly recruited out of high school, D’Agostino burst onto the scene her freshman spring when she won the Ivy League 5000 meter championship with a time of 16:46.  Sixteen more Ivy League championships and seven individual NCAA titles later, Abbey graduated the most decorated athlete in Ivy League history. No Ivy Leaguer has won more national championships, and the most national championships previously won by an Ivy League track athlete is two.

While the final tally of titles is astounding, the feats accomplished along the way are equally impressive. At many of the Ivy Championship meets, Abbey would enter three or even four distance races, generally placing in all of her events and winning all or most of them. For instance, at the outdoor championship meet during her sophomore year in 2012, she raced in the preliminary round of the 1500, won the 3000 meter, won the finals of the 1500, and anchored Dartmouth’s 4×800 meter team to a second place finish.  Perhaps most impressive was the outdoor championships of her senior year, when she won the 10000 meter race, the 3000, and the 5000 in a span of less than twenty-four hours. It was an absolutely dominant performance.

In the early summer of 2012, just around the time her classmates were getting to campus for their sophomore summer, Abby was getting ready to run the biggest race of her life to date: the U.S. Olympic trials. Although she was set to race against the top distance runners in the country, the twenty-year-old had grounds to be confident, having just won the NCAA 5000 meter championship a few weeks prior. At the time, her personal best in the event was already an impressive 15:23, within striking distance of the top recorded times from her professional competitors. Needing to finish in the top three to qualify for the games, Abbey found herself in a three-way sprint for the final spot in the last hundred meters of the race. Ultimately, she finished in fifth, a mere .19 seconds behind third place Kim Conley. It was a bitter defeat, but Abbey was able to move forward and enjoy the consolation prize of returning to campus for her sophomore summer.

Unfortunately, Abbey’s pro career got off to a rough start, as she got injured before the 2015 outdoor season.  However, her resilience allowed her to return in time for the U.S. championships, where she finished an impressive third and qualified for the 2015 world championship meet. This summer, Abbey should be a strong contender to qualify the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where she would look to become Dartmouth’s next Olympic medalist and add to her staggering list of accomplishments. Regardless, we have certainly not seen the last of D’Agostino, who could vault up this list in the coming years.

  1. Brad Ausmus ‘91 – Baseball

There is no question that Ausmus, who enjoyed a lengthy, successful career in Major League Baseball, has had the greatest career in a major professional sports league of any Dartmouth graduate in the past half-century. Ausmus’ path to the big leagues was unconventional, to say the least. After being drafted in the forty-seventh round by the New York Yankees in 1987, he initially refused to sign with the team, opting instead for a world-class education at Dartmouth.  But the Yankees, not willing to let the young catcher walk, countered by telling Ausmus that he could attend classes at Dartmouth while playing for the club in the minor leagues.  Thanks to the flexibility of Dartmouth’s D-Plan, Ausmus accepted, and attended the College from 1987 to 1991.  At Dartmouth, Ausmus joined Chi Gamma Epsilon Fraternity and majored in government. However, due to NCAA rules prohibiting professional athletes from competing at the collegiate level, Ausmus’ role in Big Green baseball was limited to being a bullpen catcher and volunteer coach.

Although his lack of a collegiate career prevents him from moving further up the list, Ausmus’ eighteen year stint in the MLB was more than enough to earn his spot at number six. As a Catcher, the most important defensive position on the field, Ausmus was primarily counted upon for his defensive prowess, and for good reason. For most of his years in the league, he ranked among the league leaders in putouts, percentage of runners caught stealing, and fielding percentage and nearly every other defensive metric for catchers. His career numbers also put him in the top ten in many of those categories. Ausmus’ fielding exploits earned him three gold gloves in his career, the award given to the best fielding player at each position in the league. For a catcher, Ausmus was also a decent hitter, batting .251 for his career and .275 in 1999 en route to his lone appearance in the All-Star Game.

In addition to our list, Ausmus has frequently appeared in rankings of the smartest athletes and best Jewish baseball players of all time, and in 2004, he was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Now entering his third season as manager of the Detroit Tigers, Ausmus will only continue to cement his legacy as one of Dartmouth’s premier alumni, in athletics and otherwise.