For most Tufts students, succeeding either in the classroom or on the athletic field is a significant achievement. However, there are very few Jumbos that are able to excel in both those realms. But graduating senior Mitchell Black, tri-captain of the men’s track and field team and member of the men’s cross country team, is unlike most Tufts students.
Black’s academic achievements alone make him stand out — he earned a 3.72 grade point average while pursuing a double major in mechanical engineering and astrophysics, and received Tufts’ C.P. Ciaffone and L.W. Pote Scholarship for excellence in engineering.
But he’s also one of the most decorated runners in Tufts track and field program history. Black is a nine-time All-American and three-time national champion, who won both the indoor 800-meter NCAA Div. III titles in 2015 and 2016 and the outdoor 800-meter title in 2015 — not to mention a four-year All-NESCAC honoree and a three-time NESCAC champion. In April, Black was named a NESCAC Track Performer of the Week and USTFCCCA Men’s Div. III National Athlete of the Week after finishing the 800-meter with a time of 1:48.60, the ninth fastest in Div. III history and the current fastest in the nation. He is likely to add another NCAA title in the 800 and a few more All-American honors to that already impressive list at the NCAA Div. III outdoor national championships later this week.
After winning the Div. III 800-meter national championship race last spring, he told the Daily that his win was something he had been thinking about for over a year.
“It was a big culmination realizing that everything I have worked for paid off,” he said at the time.
His efforts continued to pay off over the years, with the achievements from his time at Tufts recently earning him the Sabasteanski Award for Most Outstanding Track and Field Performer in the NESCAC. He is only the third Tufts athlete to win the award after Graham Beutler (LA ’14) in 2013 and Greg Devine (LA ’03) in 2002.
Black, an aspiring astronaut, is also one of just two student-athletes in the country to be awarded the NCAA’s 2016 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, a $24,000 scholarship given each year to one male and one female scholar-athlete from Div. I, II and III schools. Black is not only Tufts’ first recipient but also the first recipient ever from a NESCAC school. He’s currently choosing between Ph.D. programs in aerospace engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan.
“Mitchell’s accomplishments in the classroom, on the track and in the community have set him up to reach for the stars as he pursues his goal of becoming an astronaut,” Andrew Alia, chair of the NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship Committee, told gotuftsjumbos.com.
Black is certainly deserving of all this hardware he has been receiving. He led the men’s track and field team to three straight NESCAC championships his first three years and to a second-place finish in the conference this year. Black has dominated the 400, 800 and 1,500-meter races and has risen to among the best in the nation.
As the perfect embodiment of the student-athlete, Black will undoubtedly go down as one of the most accomplished Jumbos in Tufts history.