Freshman Alina Strileckis (left) runs in a sprint with teammate and sophomore Patricia Blumeris at the Cupid Challenge held at Tufts University on Feb. 4. (Max Lalanne / The Tufts Daily)

Third home meet of the year yields several season bests

The Jumbos continue to show steady improvement each week as they posted six new season bests at the annual Cupid Challenge hosted at Tufts’ Gantcher Center over the weekend. This was the third meet for the Jumbos at home of the four indoor meets this season.

Senior quad-captain Sam Cox explained that the shape of the tracks can make a big difference in terms of players’ performances. In particular, she said the team prefers running on its home track and is happy that it has so many home meets this season. 

“Some straightaways are longer or shorter than others, and I know for certain shorter events that can be a huge change from track to track,” Cox said. “We really like our track, and it was just resurfaced so we’re really happy to be running on it. Also, ours is a flat track and if you run a really fast time on a banked track you’re going to have to have a couple seconds tacked on to that time, so people want to run their fast times on our track.”

The 4×400 relay was one of the Jumbos’ new season bests, as their squad of first-year Rhemi Toth, senior quad-captain Rita Donohoe, junior Julia Prusaczyk and first-year Julia Gake ran a time of 4:06.28 and captured first place for the race. Tufts now has posted a number of admirable 4×4 times, as this group now currently holds the 33rd best time in the nation for the 4×4, while a previous Tufts 4×4 relay from this season holds the 36th. The other group includes senior Hannah Loss and first-year Nehale Kunkle-Read along with Donohoe and Gake. Both of these early season times show that Jumbos will have a significant number of athletes available from whom to field their relay teams later in the season.

For the field events, three different athletes posted season best scores in the pole vault, long jump and triple jump. Sophomore Sydney Ladner pole vaulted for a mark of 2.9 meter clearance, which matched her best pole vault of the season, while fellow sophomore Brita Dawson placed third in the meet with a 5.26 meter long jump that gave her the No. 46 jump in the nation as of late Saturday night. First-year Rebecca Glass also posted a triple jump of 9.98 meters for a 3rd place finish at the Cupid Challenge.

On top of her good day with her pole vault, Ladner also ran a time of 8.22 seconds in the 60 meter dash, Tufts’ best time of the season.

For the distance runners, there were also a number of good showings as Cox ran a time of 3:01.44 in the 1000 meter for another Tufts season best to place 3rd in the race. Sophomore Olivia Barnett posted a time of 5:11.22 in the mile as well, which was good for 35th in the nation. Junior Brittany Bowman and sophomore Natalie Bettez set the standard for distance running for the Jumbos earlier in the season. These new season bests add to the list of strong performances. 

Cox praised her teammates’ ability to transition from cross country to track this year.

“Oftentimes, it is really hard to move from cross country to track for distance runners…but this year the physical transition has been really seamless,” she said. “I’m really excited to see how people perform. I think there’s this fresh perspective on it this year … From what I’ve seen from the distance runners this season, I think people are really ready to go and perform indoors.”

Coach Kristen Morwick also noted that a number of athletes posted qualifying times or cuts over the weekend for the indoor New England Div. III championships, hosted by MIT the weekend of Feb. 17.

“[Sophomore] Kylene DeSmith qualified for New England’s in the pentathlon by doing all five events within the meet, very tough to do…she had to throw the shot put two minutes after finishing the 800m and she ran a PR [personal record] in the 60 hurdles and jumped a PR in the high jump,” Morwick told the Daily in an email. “[Sophomore] Brita Dawson competed in the long jump for the first time all season since she has had a back injury, and jumped a personal record for indoor and qualified for New England’s. The 3k runners also had a really good day…all qualifying for New England’s.”

The Jumbos will see action again next weekend on Feb. 10 at the BU David Hemery Invitational, which will be their last meet of the indoor regular season.

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