All season, the biggest goal for the men’s track and field team was to win the NESCAC Championships for a third year in a row. But in a surprising disappointment on Saturday at Amherst, Tufts lost the NESCAC crown to Williams, which finished with 207 points, ahead of Tufts’ 182 score. Still, the second-place finish in the NESCAC doesn’t diminish what has been an impressive 2016 campaign for the Jumbos. Tufts won the Sunshine Classic, Conn. College’s Silfen Invitational and the Tufts Invitational while also racking up some of the best individual marks in the nation.
Senior tri-captain, All-American and three-time NCAA champion Mitchell Black came into the championships as the NESCAC Track Performer of the Week and USTFCCCA Men’s Div. III National Athlete of the Week after clocking a time of 1:48.60 in the 800 meters the week before, the ninth fastest in Div. III history and the current fastest in the nation. Black did not disappoint on Saturday, leading the Jumbos with two of the team’s six wins, taking first in the 800 and the 1,500. Teammate and classmate Veer Bhalla was close behind Black in the 1,500 for the 1-2 Tufts finish. Junior Luke O’Connor won the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the second year, senior Bryson Hoover-Hankerson won the long jump and sophomore Stefan Duvivier won the high jump in unexpected first-place finishes. The Tufts 4×100-meter relay team of sophomore Peter Clark, Hoover-Hankerson, first-year Thomas Miller and first-year Anthony Kardonsky also finished first with a time of 41.61 seconds that is 13th nationally.
Though the overall team result at NESCACs may have been somewhat underwhelming for the defending champions, there are still a number of Jumbos ranked in the top spots in the country in their events who will likely impress in the championship season, and the squad has shown a wealth of young talent that bodes well for the program’s future. The team is back in action this weekend at the New England Div. III Championships at Springfield.