Despite the gusting winds and rain falling on the Ellis Oval this weekend, the men’s track and field team just kept running. On Saturday, the team hosted the annual Snowflake Classic at Duasault Track and they placed third out of 16 teams. Though the Jumbos’ outdoor season technically started over spring break when they competed at an event in California, this weekend’s meet marked the beginning of the team’s New England outdoor competition schedule. Even though the majority of the team was resting this week and even more of the team was competing outside of its regular events, the Jumbos still managed to rack up an impressive 84 points, behind first place Dartmouth (140.5 points) and second place Worcester State (102 points).
“We had a lot of our top runners sitting out to rest for more later season meets,” senior Nick Adams said. “Even with the rain and the unpredictable weather, we still had a lot of people race well for a first meet.”
Adams performed well in the less-than-ideal weather, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase, though the field included just two other competitors, both from Worcester State University: Eric Sanford and Carlos Nieves. Adams was on his own for most of the race, finishing with a time of 10:14.02, with Sanford and Nieves lagging significantly behind.
“I won comfortably, but it was really me by myself and the bad weather,” Adams said.
In the 100-meter dash event — a staple event of outdoor track competitions — sophomore Peter Clark also delivered a win for Tufts out of a field of a whopping 42 entrants. In the final, he finished in 11.31 seconds, beating the runner-up Zach Miller of the University of Southern Maine by a full 0.2 seconds.
“In the finals, I had an okay start,” Clark said. “But I was able to stay relaxed during the second half of the race, which I think allowed me to keep my speed up and didn’t slow me down.”
Other standout performances included first-year Dylan Jones finishing in seventh place in the 10K with a time of 33:02.72, first-year Charles Pennington nabbing a seventh place 5 in. 6 ft. performance in the high jump and first-year Henry Hintermeister finishing in third with a 57.80 in the 400-meter hurdles.
“I think we did really well … Usually when the weather is like that the times aren’t that great,” sophomore Drew DiMaiti said. “But compared to other teams, we were doing well… It wasn’t great conditions for most of the day, but we still had some really impressive performances. For example, in the 400, Chris Gregory ran pretty well.”
Gregory, a sophomore, competed in the 400-meter dash with 27 other runners, earning second place with a time of 51.24 seconds. Only Southern Maine’s Daniel Webb was faster, who finished in 48.71 seconds.
DiMaiti, for his part, also had a dominating Saturday. He was part of the 4×800-meter relay team that also included first-year Nico Agosti, senior Alex Kasemir and Hintermeister. The team beat Keene State College in a two-team race and finished with a time of 8:18.20.
“The 4×800 meter relay is a new event for me in college,” DiMaiti said. “This was my first time since coming to Tufts that I ran an 800 so that was fun because I usually run shorter distances.”
DiMaiti was one of many Jumbos competing in an event that they normally don’t run, but in the end it didn’t seem to matter.
“It wasn’t a meet we were necessarily trying to win, but I think the effort was there,” Clark said. “People weren’t placed in events they normally [place in], but the team did well because everyone tried their best.”
Senior Atticus Swett led the Jumbo throwers at the meet, finishing fourth in the discus and sixth in hammer throw to cap an overall good meet for the Jumbos.
“The Snowflake Classic has always really been bad weather and an unpredictable first meet,” Adams said. “It’s also a wake up call because it is going to rain or be windy. It gets us prepared for a New England spring where it might not always be perfect conditions.”
The Snowflake Classic kicked off a packed April schedule for Tufts as the team gets ready to compete in six more events before the NESCAC championships on April 30. A contingent of Jumbos will compete at the Sam Howell Invitational at Princeton this Friday, with another portion of the team competing on Saturday at a tri-meet at MIT that includes Bates. The following weekend, from April 15 to 16, the Tufts team will make a trip to Conn. College for the Silfren Invitational. The Jumbos hope the weather will have improved by April 23 when they host their next home meet, the Tufts Sunshine Classic. The sprint through the April schedule all builds up to NESCACs at Amherst at the end of the month, where Tufts looks to defend its crown and take its fourth straight conference title.
“The biggest goal for us this season is to win the NESCAC championship for the fourth year in a row,” Adams said. “No one on the team has ever experienced losing the NESCAC, so we want to keep that streak alive. We want to get the momentum rolling as we try to take the title again.”
But as excited as the team is for NESCACs, winning will not be a walk in the park. Tufts faces serious competition from Williams this year, and the stakes are even higher as former Tufts coach Ethan Barron left after last season to coach at Williams.
“There is an added level of interest…but it’s just fun and competitive now with him,” DiMaiti said.
But it isn’t just the prospects of becoming four-peat NESCAC champions that excites the team.
“I’m most excited to see my teammates PR after all the work they have put in throughout indoor season,” Clark said. “It will be exciting to see how well people do and how much people have improved from last year. I’m excited to see the freshmen have fun with the new season.”
The Jumbos are confident that their performance at the Snowflake Classic set them up well as the outdoor season starts to heat up.
“It wasn’t, through every nook and cranny, an amazing performance, but I think we are in a good spot right now to have a good run up into championship season,” DiMaiti said.
“The meet definitely reassured us that we have depth,” Clark said. “The athletes that did run their specific events seemed to do very well, so we feel pretty good heading into the outdoor season.”