Jumbos look to claim more titles at nationals

Rising senior Shant Mahrokhian competes in the long jump for the men's track and field home meet on April 15. Ben Kim / The Tufts Daily

With nationals still to come starting Thursday, expectations are as high as ever for the Jumbos, who’ve put together an impressive spring following a dominant showing in the indoor season.

During the indoor season, the Jumbos battled in a number of meets leading up to the New England Div. III Championships. The Jumbos handily won the event with 127 points, more than 40 points ahead of second-place MIT.

“The biggest accomplishment of the year was winning Division III New Englands indoors,” graduating senior Tim Nichols said. “It was the first time in a really long time that we had, and it was really exciting to be a part of a historic team in that way. But, I also think the biggest accomplishment might still be yet to come.”

The event saw strong performances from a number of Jumbos, as rising senior Peter Clark set a school record, winning the 60-meter dash in 6.99 seconds. His classmate Andrew DiMaiti also took home a trophy in the 600-meter. Rising junior Hiroto Watanabe broke onto the scene in the winter season, ultimately capping it off by winning the 800-meter. In Tufts’ final win, rising senior Stefan Duvivier dominated the high jump, cruising over the 6-foot-8-inch mark.

The Jumbos followed up their win by sending four athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships. Watanabe earned All-American honors with an eighth-place finish in the 800-meter, while Nichols earned a national title in the 5,000-meter.

In the outdoor season, the Jumbos hit the ground running, winning the first two meets of the spring: the Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) Invitational in San Diego, Calif. and the Snowflake Classic at home. The Jumbos added several strong showings throughout their spring meets, including winning the Sunshine Classic at home.

The focus for the outdoor season was on the NESCAC Championship, however, and the Jumbos went in eager to compete for the title. Ultimately, the Jumbos finished second for the second straight season, but six claimed NESCAC titles at the meet.

Rising junior Anthony Kardonsky started the scoring for the Jumbos, claiming first in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.85 seconds. Nichols finished first in the 10,000-meter with a time of 30:47.31. Fellow graduating senior and co-captain Luke O’Connor also won a title, running a new personal record with a time of 8:58:46 in the 3,000-meter steeple.

The Jumbos dominated the hurdles, as rising junior Josh Etkind won the 110-meter hurdles and DiMaiti won the 400-meter hurdles. Duvivier maintained the same skill he’d shown all year in the high jump, clearing 6 feet 6 inches and claiming a NESCAC title.

The Jumbos also finished second in their next event, the NCAA Regional Championships. Several Jumbos surpassed school records. Duvivier cleared 6 feet 11 inches in the high jump, breaking the Tufts record, which was previously 6 feet 8 inches. Kardonsky shattered the 100- and 200-meter records, running the events in 10.77 and 21.71 seconds respectively.

Coach Joel Williams explained that the season has been one of constant improvement for Kardonsky, who also holds a record in the 4×100-meter relay.

“Anthony [Kardonsky] has [made a personal record] every week and has a NESCAC title and two Div. III New England titles to match his three school records,” Williams told the Daily in an email.

The Jumbos finished the meet with 96 points, behind MIT with 123.

Tufts participated most recently in the All-New England Championships May 12 and 13 at Williams. Nichols set a school-record time in the 5,000-meter with a 14:12.63. His new time is fourth nationally, and breaks a record that has stood since 2010. O’Connor also won an event, again taking first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 8:59:57, and was just over a second short of the No. 1 time in the nation, which O’Connor himself holds.

The Jumbos graduate 11 seniors this spring, but Williams is not concerned about the future of the team despite such a large senior class.

“We will miss [the seniors], but they have done an amazing job laying the foundation for the returning guys,” Williams said. “It’s hard to even think about next year when this season isn’t even over. We have a young and very talented squad. Over half of the guys competing in the last three meets are freshmen or sophomores.”