At Boston University’s David Hemery Invitational this past Saturday, junior Mitch Black reset the Tufts 800-meter record with an impressive time of 1:49.16. It replaced the standing school record (1:51.14) set by Black last season.
“It wasn’t something I was looking to break,” Black said, “I was just trying to put down a faster time. The time came with the first half and maybe laps two and three.”
Focusing on achieving the fastest time rather than breaking his record has certainly proven successful for Black this season. His time was good enough for a fifth place finish in the meet, but it was also the fastest recorded time this season in Div. III and the fourth fastest time recorded in Div. III history.
With championship season fast approaching, Black has high hopes for Nationals.
“The 800 is definitely the focus going forward,” Black said. “I will hopefully run that at Nationals in March.”
However, in order to diversify his training he plans to run the 800-meter race only one other time between now and then. In its place, he plans to run the 1,000 meters and then possibly some relays in the meets leading up to Nationals.
Notably, several Tufts athletes in addition to Black had great showings this past weekend at Boston University. Junior Veer Bhalia finished 17th overall with an 800-meter time of 1:52.58. In the 1,000 meters, first-year Ty Enos placed 28th with a time of 2:30.81, while junior Alex Apostolides placed close behind in 34th with a time of 2:31.64. In the 400 meters, junior Alex Kasemir (50.17) and sophomore Nick Usoff (50.19) secured a 72nd and 74th place finish, respectively.
The 4×400-meter relay team (currently ranked in the top 10 nationally) placed 14th of 52 teams with a time of 3:17.32. Relay team members Black, Kasemir, Usoff and first-year Andrew DiMaiti look forward to championship season as they try to reach their full potential as a group. They plan to run the 4×400 in the meets leading up to Nationals.
With a time of 4:19.30, sophomore Luke O’ Connor led Tufts in the mile with a 114th-place finish in a field of 314. Senior Marshall Pagano also ran a strong mile with a time of 4:20.34 for 122nd place. In the 60-meter hurdles, sophomores Thomas Wang (9.00) and Henry Zhou (9.01) finished back-to-back in 46th and 47th, respectively. First-year Linus Gordon leaped 20’ 6.5” in the long jump, a distance good enough for 31st. Meanwhile, sophomore Pietro Possenti took 30th in the pole vault clearing 13’ 5.25”.
The David Hemery Invitational marked a successful weekend for Tufts. However, the team is looking ahead to the Div. III Championships at Springfield College this upcoming weekend.
“The first couple of meets are spent building up a strong team-oriented [mentality] toward supporting each other,” junior Veer Bhalla said. “It is the foundation for heading into championships.”
On a personal level, Bhalla looks to repeat his first place finish in the 600 meters from last year’s championships.
The team will look to veterans such as Bhalla and his classmate Black for strong finishes, but also to younger members that have proven themselves as contributors throughout the year.
“There is a lot of depth in the [first-year class] that will help the team throughout championship season,” Bhalla said. “The freshmen middle distance runners are very good. Most have qualified for the [Div. III] meet this weekend. One of our freshman sprinters, Drew [DeMaiti], is a contender in the 400. He is looking really good.”
Coach Ethan Barron will surely push his athletes during this championship season in order to attain the success so common to our men’s track and field team. The team will look to improve upon their second-place finish at last year’s Div. III championships held at MIT.