Running Circles Around the Competition
The men’s track and field team won its fifth New England Division III Indoor Championship and its first since 2008 at home at the Gantcher Center on Feb. 18. The Jumbos’ winning total of 127 points was 35 more than second-place Williams College (92).
Tufts adds this New England title to its previous Division III indoor crowns won in 2008, 1991, 1983 and 1980. The Jumbos continue their championship season next weekend (Feb. 24 and 25) at the All-New England Championship at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.
Head coach Joel Williams’ team won four events, earned four runner-up finishes and filled in the rest with aplomb. The Jumbos scored in 16 of 20 events, including 16 points in the 200 meters, 14 in the 60-meter dash and 13 in the 600 meters.
“Our keys to victory were momentum and a total team effort, from guys winning events to non-qualifiers circling the track to cheer each other on. Every guy earned this title,” Williams said. “I have said all season these guys don’t compete for points, places or titles. They compete for each other.”
Among many Jumbo runners who surpassed their rankings entering the meet, junior Peter Clark won the 60-meter dash in a school-record 6.99 seconds. Clark was seeded ninth in the race, but led three Tufts sprinters who scored. Clark’s time broke the previous Tufts record of 7.00 set earlier this season by senior Blake Coolidge, who finished sixth at the championships, at 7.04. Freshman Robert Jones, seeded 21st, scored a point with an eighth-place time of 7.13 seconds.
“If I had to pick one most impressive performance I would say it came from Peter Clark winning the 60 meters and becoming the first Jumbo to dip under seven seconds,” Williams said. “All season long he has been floating in the middle of our pack. Today he is the New England champion and Tufts record holder.”
Junior Andrew DiMaiti became the fourth consecutive Tufts runner to win the New England Division III indoor 600 meters title; he ran the race in 1:21.25. His former teammate, Veer Bhalla, A16, had won the event at the three previous New England Division III meets. Freshman Billy Witrock added a sixth-place effort of 1:23.28 in the 600.
In the most exciting Jumbo finish of the day, sophomore Hiroto Watanabe won the 800 meters by 0.03 seconds with a time of 1:54.13. He slipped by Middlebury’s James Mulliken, who crossed the finish line with a 1:54.16 mark.
The fourth Tufts win came in the high jump. Junior Stefan Duvivier topped 6 feet, 8 inches. He had started the winter sports season as a member of the Tufts basketball team before switching to track and field.
Clark and Coolidge were two of the four Jumbos to score in the 200-meter race. Coolidge’s 22.41 was good for third and improved his national ranking to 26th. Sophomore Anthony Kardonsky was fourth (22.63), sophomore Thomas Miller finished sixth (22.673), and Clark came in seventh (22.674).
Sophomore Josh Etkind tallied 13 points for the Jumbos. He was second in the 60-meter hurdles final with a time of 8.28 seconds that improved his national ranking to 15th. He also finished fourth in the triple jump with a leap of 45 feet, 1½ inches. Both were season-bests. Also in the 60-meter hurdles, senior tri-captain Thomas Wang came out of the 23rd seed with an 8.67 in the prelims to earn a spot in the finals, scoring an eighth-place point.
Senior tri-captain Luke O’Connor and junior Linus Gordon posted runner-up finishes while improving their national rankings. Gordon was second in the long jump (23 feet), which is 22nd in the country. O’Connor’s 14:55.54 for second in the 5,000 meters nudged his national ranking to 23rd.
The Jumbos also received eight second-place points from a young distance medley relay team. The foursome of sophomore Colin Raposo, freshman Jordan Abate, freshman Jackson Mihm and sophomore Christian Swenson combined on a 10:22.54 time.
In a talented 3,000 meters field, Tufts senior Tim Nichols ran third (8:23.14). Another senior, tri-captain Nick Usoff, finished third in the 400 meters (50.27).
DiMaiti, Usoff, Witrock and sophomore Thomas Doyle were fourth in the 4-x-400 meter relay with a 3:22.20 mark that is Tufts’ season-best in the event. Sophomore Henry Hintermeister was also fourth in the heptathlon, scoring 4,481 points. The Jumbos are ranked in the top 20 nationally in both events—the 4-x-4 relay at 16th and Hintermeister at 19th.
Raposo added a sixth-place in the mile with a season-best 4:19.15, and freshman Kevin Quisumbing took eighth in the shot put (46 feet, 6¼ inches).
MIT, the number 2-ranked Division III team in the nation, finished third, with 84 points. Middlebury (79) and Bowdoin (56) rounded out the top five teams.
“There were so many impressive performances,” Williams said. “Guys competing with the flu or injured, 0.01 margins of victory, huge personal records, perfectly executed relay legs, and gutting out off days to score points. I can’t explain how proud and excited I am for these guys.”
Contact Paul Sweeney, Tufts’ sports information director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.