The men’s track and field team appears to be reaching championship form at the right time after they took first place out of 17 schools at the Silfen Invitational, held at Conn. College on Friday and Saturday. The event is one of the final building blocks as the team gears up for the NESCAC Championships on April 30, where they look to defend their conference title. The team scored 179 points to blow away all competitors, with Franklin Pierce coming in second place (95.5 points) and Trinity (81.5 points), Stevens Institute (68 points) and Connecticut College (67 points) rounding out the top five.
No one had a bigger day on Saturday than first-year Thomas Miller, whose 10.86 time in the 100-meter dash set the new school record. It broke the previous record of 10.90 seconds, set by both Daniel Lange Vagle in 2013 and Phil Rotella in 2009. Miller was second in that event, falling to Trinity first-year Alex Tomcho. However, Tufts sophomore Peter Clark and senior Bryson Hoover-Hankerson finished in third and fourth place, respectively, giving the Jumbos 19 total points in the event to go along with the new record.
“My goal for this season was to run under 11 seconds in the 100 meter dash. I was surprised when I saw I ran 10.86. To beat my goal by that much was good enough, but when one of my teammates told me I had just broken the school record I didn’t really know how to react,” Miller told the Daily in an email. “I was proud and excited, but now that it’s over with I really just want to focus on being more consistent with my runs and keeping my time below 11 seconds as we move down the road.”
Tufts sprinters also dominated in the 400 meters. Senior Mitchell Black, sophomore Drew DiMaiti, junior Nick Usoff, first-year Nico Agosti and senior Francis Goins impressively finished 1-2-3-4-5 in the event. Dylan Manning of Vassar finished in sixth, but even he wasn’t safe from the Jumbo onslaught as Tufts first-year Tom Doyle was right behind him in seventh place. This incredible 35-point team performance was headlined by a season-best 49.85 time from Black.
The Jumbos also picked up big points in the 200 meters. Even though Trinity’s Tomcho won the event, Clark finished in second and DiMaiti was fourth. Usoff rounded out the top five as he and his teammates racked up 17 points total in the event.
Tufts also got a win and 10 points in the pole vault as first-year Ben Wallace posted a season-best 13 ft, 11 1/4 in. despite the heavy crosswind during the meet. Wallace said that he was pleased with his and sophomore teammate Nile Abularrage’s ability to perform consistently in the event despite the less-than-ideal conditions.
The Jumbos also notched victories in the shot put, where senior tri-captain Atticus Swett posted a season-best performance, and in the 4×400 relay, where Tufts’ 3:20.04 time was also the 10th-fastest mark in the nation. The 4×100-meter relay team finished with a time of 43.67 seconds, edging out Franklin Pierce for a fifth Jumbo victory.
“Our 4×100 relay team is making slow but steady progress,” said Miller. “At this meet we ran a slower time than what we had hoped because of one sub-par exchange, and all of our exchanges for that matter still need work. However there was progress, as two of the exchanges had improved from prior ones. The hand-offs can make or break the relay, which is what we will really be focusing on in the coming weeks.”
The 4×100-meter team consisted of Miller, Clark, Hoover-Hankerson and first-year Brandon Levenstein.
The list of Jumbo accomplishments on the day was long, with a number of unusual contributors pitching in to the team’s domination. Sophomore Stefan Duvivier cleared 1.98 meters in the high jump for 15th in the nation and second in the event on Saturday. Senior Michael Paloian had a season-best performance in the hammer throw and Usoff showed his versatility by also posting a season best throw in the javelin.
“The team overall did very well, winning many events as well as having multiple entries score in most events,” said Wallace.
The team will look to keep this momentum going as they head into the NESCAC Championships, and they’ll have no shortage of competition to keep them in form. The Jumbos will compete in a multi-event meet at Holy Cross tomorrow and Thursday before before sending a contingent down to Princeton for the Larry Ellis Invitational on Friday, where the team’s best will compete against some of the top track athletes in the nation to get them competing a high level. In the team’s final event before the conference championships at Amherst, the team will then host the annual Tufts Sunshine Classic at the Ellis Oval on Saturday as a final tune-up.
“We have to take the energy and morale from this meet,” said Miller, “and [we have to] use it to dominate the competition at our conference championship.”