Led by senior distance runner Tim Nichols’ second record-breaking time in as many weeks, the men’s track and field team won a number of events at the Tufts Cupid Challenge at Gantcher Center on Feb. 4. The North Lima, Ohio native was just one of many Jumbos to post nationally-ranked times at the meet. The Jumbos then built on their success from that weekend and left their marks at both the BU Hemery Invitational on Friday and Saturday and at the Gordon Kelly Invitational at MIT on Saturday. The team’s success helped their Div. III ranking jump from No. 16 to No. 13, showing the serious momentum the team has started to gain.
Even though BU is a Div. I track team, Nichols thinks the challenge will rally the team together for the New England Div. III Championship.
“BU is generally faster,” senior tri-captain sprinter Nick Usoff said. “If some people have good performances [at BU], they’ll be pretty excited moving into the following week, because we have Div. III New England’s back here at Tufts. The strength of BU might help us pull together as a team.”
Despite the heightened strength of the teams, the Jumbos still earned a number of top times at the BU Invitational. The distance medley relay team, consisting of junior mid-distance runner Tom DePalma and sophomore mid-distance runners Hiroto Watanabe, Colin Raposo and Thomas Doyle, came in seventh out of 14 teams and ran a 10:16.83 time that is currently ranked eighth in Div. III. Junior hurdler Andrew DiMaiti ran a 48.90 in the 400-meter, ranking 23rd in the nation. DiMaiti’s time was also a season best for the Jumbos. Raposo also posted a Tufts season-best time with a 2:29.43 in the 1,000-meter.
At MIT, Tufts had another school-record-breaking performance. Junior high jumper Stefan Duvivier reached 6’9.75″ to break the school record of 6’9″ for the high jump, a record previously shared by James Bradley (LA ’09) and Steve Sutherland (LA ’83). Duvivier’s jump currently places him fourth nationally. The Jumbo field events had continued success with junior long jumper Linus Gordon’s 21’6.75″ triple jump, which earned him first place at the meet. Senior thrower Michael Paloian also won the weight throw with a 50’8″ throw.
In the highlight performance of the Cupid Challenge, Nichols’ 5,000-meter time of 14:19.45 shattered the Tufts school record of 14:28.26 set last year by senior captain Luke O’Connor. Nichols’ record-breaking time also won him the race and placed him first in the nation. He was topped by University of Wisconsin-Platteville senior Ian LaMere’s 14:03.82 on Feb. 10.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s definitely a goal I had coming into the season, and I’d just like to keep doing it,” Nichols said. “I want to maybe keep [making personal records] in the 3k and 5k and hopefully do the same sort of stuff in the outdoor season too.”
Usoff explained that strong finishes like Nichols’ have the ability to excite team members ahead of their own events.
“His 5k time was undoubtedly the standout performance of the meet,” Usoff said.
Other runners had success as well. Raposo ran a 4:20 in the one mile race, earning him fourth place in the event and which was, at that time, the 28th best time in the nation. Junior hurdler Peter Clark ran the 60-meter with a time of 7.07 — good enough to win the race but just outside of the national rankings. Sophomore sprinter Thomas Miller claimed the No. 1 spot in the 200-meter by running a 22.62. This time placed him 29th in the nation. Watanabe also took first place, winning the 800-meter with a 1:54.97, but this was not enough to topple his season-best time of 1:54.41.
The 4×800-meter relay team — comprised of DePalma, junior distance runner Sam Little, Watanabe and Raposo — came in third place with a time of 8:08.27. This was the season-best time for the foursome and reflected the Jumbos’ constant improvement in the weeks leading up to their first championship meet of the season.
The Jumbos will host the New England Div. III Indoor Championships at Gantcher Center on Feb. 17 and 18.