4/15/2017 - Medford/Somerville, MA - Junior Shant Mahrokhian competes in the long jump at the meet on April 15. Ben Kim / The Tufts Daily

Jumbos take second at NESCACs, look ahead to New England Championships

On Saturday, Tufts competed in the NESCAC Championships at Bowdoin in Brunswick, Maine. The team claimed six NESCAC titles as well as a number of other high-ranking times to finish second at the meet.

Senior tri-captain distance runner Luke O’Connor placed first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 8:58.46. This earned him his third straight NESCAC title and was also the best time of his career, improving upon his season-best time of 9:03.24, as he finished six seconds ahead of second-place Ben Torda of Bowdoin. Later in the day, O’Connor went on to finish fourth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:05.99 to wrap up a successful performance.

Senior distance runner Tim Nichols won the 10,000-meter run with a time of 30:47.31, earning the first NESCAC title of his career. Nichols also finished second in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:54.20, narrowly beating the third place runner by half a second. 

“I basically wanted to chill out for at least the first half of the race and then grind really hard for two miles to put some distance on the field and then slow the last mile down to a controlled pace,” Nichols said. “Knowing I had the 5k later in the day, I wanted to do as little work as I had to in order to win.”

Nichols was excited about the addition of his first NESCAC title to his vast collection of track and field awards.

“It definitely feels like it’s taken a little too long, but the NESCAC had really strong distance runners during my time so it makes sense,” Nichols said. “I’m glad to have finally achieved it though.”

Sophomore hurdler/jumper Josh Etkind ran a 14.53 in the 110-meter hurdles to take first place and claim his first NESCAC title. Meanwhile, classmate mid-distance runner Anthony Kardonsky placed first in the 100-meter dash, running a 10.85 to earn another NESCAC title for Tufts. The race was dominated by the Jumbos, with first-year short sprinter Robert Jones placing third, sophomore sprinter Tommy Miller placing sixth and sophomore sprinter Brandon Levenstein placing seventh. The runners earned a total of 21 points for the Jumbos in the 100-meter event alone.

The Jumbos were dominant in the 400-meter hurdles as well. Junior hurdler Andrew DiMaiti came first in the event with a time of 54.15 to earn the first NESCAC title of his career.

“I have been working hard to improve my form and my steps in between the hurdles so I could run a smoother, faster race,” DiMaiti said. “[On Saturday], my plan was just to execute as I have been doing recently in practice and make sure to attack each hurdle without slowing down or stuttering. I was very excited and proud to finally win a NESCAC title. It has been a goal of mine to win one since I arrived at Tufts. I was disappointed that we just missed winning the team championship, but we definitely gave it our all and had a hard-fought meet.”

DiMaiti was followed by senior tri-captain sprinter Nick Usoff who placed second, first-year long-sprinter/hurdler Billy Witrock who finished fifth and sophomore thrower/hurdler Henry Hintermeister who placed seventh. Together, the four Jumbos earned the team 24 combined points in the event. Junior jumper Stefan Duvivier repeated his success from last year’s NESCAC Championships and won the high jump, posting a mark of 1.98 meters.

The Tufts relay teams also contributed vital points to the team’s overall score. The 4×100 team, consisting of junior sprinter Patrick Milne, Kardonsky, Miller and Jones posted a time of 42.15 to come second in the event. The 4×400 team, comprised of DiMaiti, Witrock, sophomore mid-distance runner Thomas Doyle and first-year long sprinter Jordan Abate, as well as the 4×800 team, made up of sophomore mid-distance runners Colin Raposo, Hiroti Watanabe and Christian Swenson and first-year mid-distance runner Jackson Mihm, both placed third with times of 3:21.90 and 7:51.01, respectively. The relay teams garnered 20 points for the Jumbos.

In total, Tufts earned 164 team points to finish second, just behind Williams’ team total of 175. Williams successfully defended their NESCAC title.

Even though the Jumbos had great success at the NESCAC Championships, Usoff thinks the team hasn’t even shown their full potential yet.

“We were missing a few guys this weekend that are looking to contribute a lot next weekend,” Usoff said. “So I think if anything, [this meet] was an underrepresentation of what we’re capable of.”

Nichols thinks the team’s form from the NESCAC Championships will carry on throughout the postseason.

“Our strongest performers are still looking to improve and snag some nationals spots,” Nichols said. “It definitely stings not to have won yesterday, and a lot of people ended their season yesterday, but the people who remain are really looking forward to the remaining championship meets for sure and are in shape to maintain and improve upon their current marks.”

DiMaiti shared a similar sentiment about the postseason.

“I think we have been focused on the long term and really planning on performing during championship season,” DiMaiti said. “We have a lot of energy and we are all excited by how deep our team is. After a solid performance yesterday, I know we are looking forward to the Div. III New England Championships next weekend.

Tufts will compete at the New England Div. III Championships, hosted by Williams, on May 5 and 6.

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