This weekend, the Tufts men’s track and field team was split between two events: the Branwen Smith-King Invitational, held at Gantcher Center, and the John Thomas Terrier Classic at Boston University, both on Saturday. The team had strong showings, coming in second at the Branwen Smith-King Invitational and turning in team-best times at Boston University.
The former is a new meet created this year, named for Branwen Smith-King, who retired last year after a 35-year tenure with Tufts athletics. Under Smith-King’s 18 years as the women’s track and field coach, the team became a force in Div. III, and Smith-King trained over 50 athletes who won All-American honors. Although none of her teams won an NCAA championship, they earned multiple top-five finishes. Smith-King attended Saturday’s meet, where there was a ceremony for her contributions to Tufts athletics before the events began. She also fired the ceremonial starting gun to begin the races.
“Trailblazer. When I think of Bran’s influence, that’s what comes to mind,” head coach Joel Williams said. “She is a major part of why I wanted to be part of the Tufts athletics family. She truly poured her heart and soul into Tufts athletics, and in so many ways, it’s a better place because of it.”
“Bran really stressed the importance of diversity and inclusion across the board. She worked hard to make sure that the Tufts athletics experience is a phenomenal one for everyone,” Williams said. “I think both [women’s track and field coach] Kristen [Morwick] and I would agree that our jobs wouldn’t be so great without the groundwork Bran laid for us.”
The men’s team won multiple events at the invitational, with several impressive performances from its underclassmen. Sophomore Matt D’Anieri won the 800-meter run in 1:57.58, which ranks 22nd in the nation when converted to a banked track. Sophomore Roman Lovell was not far behind D’Anieri, coming in fourth with a time of 1:58.88.
Sophomore Robert Jones competed well in the 60-meter dash. After finishing first in the preliminaries, Jones finished second in the finals with a time of 7.11 seconds, which currently ranks 28th nationally. Sophomore Jackson Mihm was runner-up in the 600-meter run, finishing with a time of 1:24.24.
The Jumbo 4×800-meter relay team, consisting of D’Anieri, Mihm, sophomore Dylan McEniry and Lovell, finished second in the event with a time of 8:11.73.
The team also had success in the field events.
First-year Matthew Manteiga won the long jump for the second consecutive meet, with a jump of 6.61 meters, and sophomore Kevin Quisumbing placed first in the shot put with a throw of 15.12 meters.
Williams was very pleased with the performances of the Jumbos’ underclassmen.
“They are a fearless bunch, and they really know how to compete,” Williams said. “So many athletes go their entire college career without ever winning a college competition, [and] we already have a handful of first-year guys that have been able to do that. This group is doing a fantastic job adjusting [to college athletics] and [has] settled in nicely. I attribute that to having amazing ‘big brothers’ that take the pressure off of the young guys.”
Other highlights from Saturday included junior Ben Wallace’s second place finish in the pole vault (4.40 meters), as well as senior Stefan Duvivier’s third-place finish in the high jump (1.98 meters).
Junior Anthony Kardonsky and senior co-captain Drew DiMiati were the only Jumbos to compete in Saturday’s John Thomas Terrier Classic. The duo raced well despite facing tough competition from Div. I and II teams. Kardonsky nearly broke two Tufts records; he ran the 60-meter dash in 6.96 seconds to place fourth in the event but was 0.01 seconds short of the 6.95 record set by Blake Coolidge (LA ’17) last year. Kardonsky also tied the school record for the 200-meter dash, running the race in 21.91 seconds for a tenth-place finish.
The Tenafly, N.J. native has been in great form recently and is very excited about his recent success.
“Things are finally coming together, and I’m able to max out my potential,” Kardonsky said. “I approach each race with a goal for the time that I want to run and the full expectation that I’m going to beat every other person. I’d rather aim high and risk disappointment than never push myself and find out just how fast I can go.”
DiMaiti also ran in the 200-meter event, finishing 29th out of the 114 runners in the race with a time of 22.32 seconds. In the 400 meters, DiMiati earned a time of 49.05 seconds, placing 15th out of the 101 runners.
The Tufts squad will split up again next week, competing in the Cupid Challenge at Gantcher Center, as well as the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association (NEICAAA) Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.