Over the weekend, a few members of the women’s track and field team traveled to Boston University’s Track and Tennis Center for the annual New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association (NEICAAA) Championships, colloquially known as Open New Englands. At this meet, top teams and individuals from all divisions across New England merge to try to run fast times or hit high marks in an attempt to prove their worth among other regional teams. Only a few Jumbos competed, but they competed very well.
Junior Marilyn Allen, who has been on a tear in the 60-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash this season, had a pair of excellent races. On Friday, she cruised through the preliminaries (prelims) of the 60-meter hurdles, running 8.96 seconds in both the prelims and the semifinals, her personal best in the event last season. In the finals, she held her own, tying her own school record which she set a few weeks ago at Tufts’ Cupid Invitational with an 8.90 second clocking for sixth place overall. Allen was the only Div. III hurdler to make the final, as the majority were Div. I athletes (another athlete in the final was a Div. II competitor). With one week to go before the fields for Div. III Nationals are set, Allen’s time stands as U.S. No. 13 (the top 17 individuals in each event qualify for the national championships). She also competed in the 200, an event which she has excelled in at BU; she ran well, running 25.51 seconds out of the prelims.
“Marilyn [Allen] had a phenomenal race,” junior Sydney Smith said. “She was the lone Div. III athlete to make the finals, which definitely boosted our confidence knowing we have one of the top hurdlers in New England as our teammate.”
Junior Alexis Harrison also made appearances in two events at the meet. Harrison took 20th overall out of the prelims of the 60-meter dash, running 7.98 seconds. She also came back to run in the 200, which she ran in 26.07 seconds, placing 28th out of the prelims.
Although Tufts had these individuals compete in the meet, many Jumbos competed in the relays. On Friday evening, the distance medley relay team of Smith, sophomore Hannah Loss, senior Lauren Gormer and sophomore Kelly Fahey teamed up to run a U.S. No. 12 time of 11:53.98 (converted to 12:01.62 on a flat track), a time that ranks fifth overall in program history. Unofficially, Smith split 3:36.9 in the 1,200, Donohue split 58.9 in the 400, Gormer split 2:14.9 in the 800 and Fahey split 5:03 in the 1,600. First-years Evie Heffernan, Sara Stokesbury and Lena Walton, as well as junior Katie Kurtz banded together in the 4×800-meter relay to try and run a fast time, and they ran well. Running in the seeded heat, the team was able to use the pace of the race to run a time of 9:49.66 for 20th overall. In the 4×400-meter relay, sophomore Rita Donohoe teamed up with Loss, Smith and Gormer to run a time of 4:01.74 for 24th overall.
“Going into the meet, we had our eyes set on breaking the 12 minute barrier and then looking at our options from there,” Smith said. “Anytime you step on the track you want to PR, but to have every member of a relay drop a huge PR on the same day was definitely a pleasant surprise.”
First-year Prudence Sax competed individually in the 1,000, and she ran a new personal record of 3:01.11 for 13th overall. Additionally, Loss ran as an individual in the 500, clocking a personal best of 1:20.89. Tufts’ lone field representative was sophomore Keren Hendel, who competed in the pole vault, launching herself over the standard at a height of 11′ 1.75″ to take 13th overall.
“I went into the race knowing that it was going to be a fast heat and that if I stuck with the pack it would pull me in for a good time, and it worked.” Sax said.
Next weekend, a few athletes will travel to New York City to run in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) meet, held at the Armory, which has historically proven itself to be one of the fastest tracks in the nation, while others will run on Friday evening at Tufts’ own Last Chance Meet, held at the Gantcher Center.
“The short sprinters and throwers will be heading down to New York City for ECACs to take advantage of the depth of the competition at that meet.” Smith said. “Meanwhile, our [distance medley relay] team will be here at home running at the Last Chance Meet with the hopes of punching our ticket to Nationals by running a similar time on a flat track to eliminate the banked time penalty. If we can run a similar time I think we will find ourselves safely within the NCAA top 12 cutoff.”
The majority of the team, however, is done racing for the indoor season, and these athletes will instead shift their focus to the outdoor season for the coming weeks.
“Those who are not racing indoor anymore are starting to build up mileage again and shift their focus to the outdoor season,” Sax said. “Our team has a lot of potential to do well outdoors, so we are really looking to set ourselves up to be in the best position that we can be in to show the region and the nation just how talented we are.”