Delilah DiCrescenzo knows something about building a dynasty. She's been there.
In her sophomore year, the Columbia women's cross country team won the first of four straight Ivy League championship titles, a feat unprecedented in the program’s rich history.
Add to that DiCrescenzo's four individual and relay Ivy League championship titles, and her All-American honors, and you start to get a taste of why DiCrescenzo is being inducted into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame. But what that information doesn't show you is how DiCrescenzo, now a professional runner, is back in Columbia Blue part-time, helping to build another dynasty for the Lions. But this time? She's one of the coaches.
Upon her graduation from Columbia College in 2005 with a degree in sociology, DiCrescenzo just kept on running. One of only two athletes in the United States to be sponsored by Puma, she has continued to impress the track & field community, this time on an international scale.
In her first year out of school, DiCrescenzo finished third in the steeplechase at the 2006 Outdoor Nationals, and won the 6K title at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in 2007.
In 2008, she competed in the Olympic Trials, advancing to the finals of the 3000m steeplechase, before barely missing out on a chance to compete in Beijing. But it was just a year later that DiCrescenzo earned a chance to compete wearing the red, white and blue.
In 2009, she finished fourth at the United States Cross Country Championships, earning a spot on U.S. Track & Field national team. She was one of five women to represent the U.S. at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan. Most recently, DiCrescenzo won the individual women's open title at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association Cross Country Championships at the Mt. Irvine Resort in Tobago, leading the U.S. to a team title.
"I was very happy with my individual and our team win at the NACAC Cross Country Championships," DiCrescenzo said. "It is always an honor to participate as a member of Team USA. USA Track & Field does a remarkable job taking care of the needs of the American athletes so that we can concentrate on competing our very best."
At home in New York, competing is just one of the many things DiCrescenzo focuses on. She is enrolled in Columbia's Sports Management program in the School of Continuing Education, studying to get her masters degree. And she has rejoined her old coach Willy Wood, joining the cross country/track & field coaching staff as a part-time assistant.
"Having Delilah affiliated with our program has helped tremendously," Wood said. "She provides a tangible day-to-day example of what is required to be a great athlete. She fully understands how that process fits within the realm of being a student at Columbia."
For DiCrescenzo, it has been a seamlesss adjustment.
"In alot of ways, things are just as I remember them," DiCrescenzo explained. "The level of expectation for the team has always been high. I was an undergrad when the women’s team was perennial Heps cross country champions. One difference now is that our team is much more well-rounded these days. We have a spectacular sprint squad, in addition to a strong distance crew that will continue to improve with age and experience. In the years ahead, we will challenge for the Ivy League titles in both cross country and track & field."
Two members of the current track & field team will actually be competing alongside DiCrescenzo later this month. As the NCAA season winds down, the profession circuit kicks into high gear.
"Right now, I am focusing on beginning the championship part of my season," DiCrescenzo said. "I will be competing at the USA National Championship meet in Des Moines, Iowa. Columbia will be well represented there as Jeff Moriarty ‘11CC and Sharay Hale ‘12CC will compete in the 800m and 400m, respectively. From there, I travel to a few international races in Canada and Europe."
Despite having quite literally run all over the world, DiCrescenzo still finds New York City to be her favorite training spot.
"I believe New York City has some of the best places for training," DiCrescenzo said. "I do most of my runs in Central Park, which is a short jog from campus. During parts of the season, I run twice a day in Central Park, yet somehow it never gets old for me.
"Unlike other places I have lived and trained, I could go an entire run without passing another jogger, which can feel quite lonely and boring," DiCrescenzo continued.
"That’s never the case when I run in Central Park. No matter how much snow there might be on the ground, I find the experience to be exciting and distracting, which always makes for a good run."
With her professional running career on a strong track, and helping to lead the Columbia cross country/track & field team to new heights, this good run for DiCrescenzo is one that can last well into the future.