Jumbos stampede to second in home meet

Sophomore Brittany Bowman (left) and junior Kelley Fahey (right) race in the 3000 meter on the Gantcher Center track for the Tufts Stampede meet on Jan. 30. Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily

Over the weekend, the women’s track and field team split up its squad to compete at two different events. On Friday evening, most of the team competed at the Stampede Invitational, hosted by Tufts at the Gantcher Center, taking second place overall. A handful of Jumbos also competed at Boston University (BU) for the annual John Thomas Terrier Invitational, a premier event that brings the best collegiate athletes across all divisions to Boston.

At the Stampede Invitational, Tufts narrowly lost to Div. II Stonehill College by five points with a final score of 168.5 points.

Senior Mary Ellen Caruso, who competed at BU the night before the invitational, returned on Saturday for the 60-meter dash. In the 60, she made the finals, running 8.27 seconds for sixth, narrowly missing her PR of 8.25 seconds. Senior quad-captain Marilyn Allen, also returning from a 200 performance the night before at BU, took second in her event, the 60 meter hurdles, running 9.20 seconds. Sophomore Annalisa DeBari and first-year Kylene DeSmith also found themselves in the 60-meter hurdle finals, as DeBari took fourth in 10.18 seconds and DeSmith sixth in 10.46 seconds. Junior Rita Donohoe, making her open 400 debut on the season, ran 1:02.45 to take sixth place.

In the middle distances, the first and second years were particularly impressive. First-year Julia Noble ran to a third place finish in the 600 meters, running 1:42.52 for a new collegiate best. Sophomore Prudence Sax was fourth in the 800 meters, running 2:26.14 — just off her PR of 2:25.07 set last indoors. Fellow classmate Sara Stokesbury ran a huge PR in the 1000, dropping from 3:09.54 to 3:06.48 and taking second place in the process.

In the same race, junior Samantha Cox, running her first race of the season, recorded 3:09.15, as classmate Sophie Passacantando, who was abroad during the cross-country season, took sixth with a time of 3:18.49.

The distance squad also made its mark at Gantcher with some fast times and high-place finishes. In the mile, sophomores Eliza Lawless and Margot Rashba finished 1-2, running 5:20.66 and 5:21.89 respectively, with Rashba getting a 2.5 second PR. The Jumbos put three in the top eight in the 3000 meters, as sophomore Brittany Bowman took second in 10:23.52 for a new PR after a huge acceleration midway through the race to qualify herself for the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association (NEICAAA) Championships in a few weeks. Junior Kelly Fahey took sixth in the race in 10:51.95, while first-year Caitlin Porrazzo took eighth in 11:11.49.

“Just before halfway through the race I was feeling good and decided to take over the pack to push myself and the others to keep the momentum going,” Bowman said. “I think success from cross-country training has translated into indoor track training success. I reached a new level of training intensity in cross-country, and so I am able to continue that intensity now indoors.”

Although Bowman ran the 3000 this weekend, she said that she will be focusing this season on being a 5000 meter runner.

“Heading into the season, we decided to make the 5K my main focus,” Bowman said. “Running the 3K for the past two weekends has helped my training for the 5K. Since the 5K is taxing on the body, I am planning on only running it once before the post season. So, I’ll run the 5K next weekend at our home meet [the Tufts Cupid Invitational], take a week off and be ready for [the New England] Div. III [Indoor Championships] the following weekend.”

The 5000 meter run saw the event season debut of sophomore Olivia Nicholson, a dominant figure for the team in the same event last season. Nicholson ran 18:22.71 for second after a huge kick over her last lap, also qualifying for the NEICAAA meet. Seniors Michele de Mars and Lily Corcoran used each other’s presence to run strong 5000 meter races– the first of the season for both of them –as de Mars was fourth in 18:48.28 and Corcoran was not far behind in fifth in 18:57.39.

Over in the field, senior Julia Rogers and first-year Sydney Ladner led the way for the Jumbos in the pole vault, with both athletes getting over the bar at nine feet, six and one quarter inches to take fourth. The long jump was where the Jumbos dominated, as first-year Brita Dawson grabbed second in 16 ft. 4.5 in. Caruso was fourth in 15 ft. 5 in., while DeBari was fifth in 15 ft. 4.75 in. Sophomore Toluwa Akinyemi was the fourth Jumbo in the top eight as she jumped 15 ft. 1.25 in. for seventh place.

DeSmith grabbed victory in the triple jump, bounding out to 34 ft. 2.75 in. to qualify for the Div. III New England Championships. Sophomore Jennifer Sherwill rounded out the field events for Tufts, grabbing seventh in the shot put event with a throw of 36 ft. 2 in.

On Friday evening, a number of Jumbos traveled the six miles down the road to BU. Senior Sydney Smith got the day started in the 800, running 2:18.58. Since the Div. III National Championships will be run on a flat track this year, Smith’s time on BU’s banked track is converted down about 1.5 seconds. She is currently in the top 20 nationally, which bodes well for the rest of the season.

Sophomore Julia Prusaczyk was next on the track, running a solid 1:21.38 in her 500-meter opener. The 200, however, was the event of the day for Tufts. Allen led the way for the Jumbos in a crowded field that included a number of the top Div. I competitors in the region, running 25.91 for 62nd overall, only about half a second off of her PR and her fourth fastest time at the 200 meter distance ever. Senior quad-captain Alexis Harrison was 82nd, running 26.10 as Caruso placed 130th in 26.95. Dawson, the fourth of the runners in this event, clocked a time of 27.19 to finish 141st. Senior Olivia Beltrani rounded out Tufts’ action on the track, running 10:32.72 for 3000 meters.

Ladner was the sole field athlete competing for the Jumbos, taking 30th overall in the long jump in 16 ft., five in.

BU was a really fun meet and it was pretty large, so it was really nice to have the opportunity to watch competitors that are some of the best in our division,” Ladner said. “They have a banked track, which was really cool to see and run on for the first time, although I only long jumped. But I am happy with how I am doing thus far, as I have been starting from where I left off last year.”

When asked about the potential of the first-years on the team this season, Ladner explained that they are expected to make major contributions to the team on all fronts.

“While we don’t have as much experience as other girls, I think we have potential and that we can slowly prove ourselves as assets to the team,” she said. “Distance has more freshmen than short sprints, but regardless a few of us freshmen have already qualified for [the] Div. III New England [Indoor Championships held at Middlebury this year], so I think we have the potential to earn some points for the team.”

Next weekend, the Jumbos will be back in action at home for the Cupid Invitational, with the action kicking off at 10 a.m. on Saturday.