Jumbos win five events, record top times at Cupid Challenge

First-year Avery Barnes (left) leaps over a hurdle at the Cupid Challenge on Feb. 3. (Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily)

The Tufts men’s track and field team hosted the Cupid Challenge in Gantcher Center over the weekend. The Jumbos performed well in the unscored meet, winning five events and turning in a handful of nationally ranked performances. Visiting schools included Amherst, Brandeis, Conn. College, Williams, Widener, WPI and MIT, among others. While team scores were not recorded for the meet, individual times placed many participants — including several Jumbos — onto the national Div. III leaderboards.

Junior Hiroto Watanabe put in one of the best performances for the Jumbos. He finished the 800 meters in 1:52.56, setting a personal-best time, which, if converted to a banked track, would be the second-fastest time in all of Div. III this season.

“Feels good to get a PR, especially on an indoor flat track, as well as win the race,” Watanabe said. “I felt really prepared for the race and was really ready to test how my training has been progressing. It’s especially satisfying to see positive and concrete results to go along with feeling good and fit.”

Watanabe went on to praise his teammate, sophomore Jackson Mihm, who served as Watanabe’s pacesetter in the 800 meters.

“Something especially nice about the race this past weekend was having … Jackson Mihm pace me through 400 meters,” Watanabe said. “Having a trustworthy teammate pace [the race] helps to take off the mental strain of the race and allowed me to really go for it in the second half.”

Watanabe also anchored the 4×400-meter relay, linking with senior co-captain Drew DiMaiti, junior Thomas Doyle and senior Patrick Milne. The Jumbos placed fourth in the event with a time of 3:23.82, which ranked 18th in Div. III when converted to a banked track, as of Saturday evening.

Tufts grabbed two more individual wins in the track events at the Cupid Challenge. Junior Anthony Kardonsky finished first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.42 seconds, while sophomore Matt D’Anieri won the 1,000 meters in a career-best time of 2:31.00.

A pair of Jumbos topped the field in their respective field events. Senior Stefan Duvivier high jumped 1.98 meters to win by just five centimeters, and junior Ben Wallace claimed first in the pole vault competition, clearing 4.40 meters.

Another highlight from the meet was the heptathlon, an event in which two Jumbos placed on the podium. Junior Henry Hintermeister finished in second — behind Brandeis sophomore Jack Allan — with a cumulative score of 4,239, which ranks him 30th among Div. III athletes this year. The North Berwick, Maine native was buoyed by second-place finishes in four events: the 1,000-meter run (2:49.89), 60-meter hurdles (9.35 seconds), high jump (1.76 meters) and the long jump (6.10 meters). Junior James Gregoire took third place with a final score of 4,105 after finishing first in the 1,000 meters with a time of 2:48.39.

Tufts runners also turned in solid performances in a number of other events. Junior Colin Raposo placed fifth (4:15.58) in a mile run that was filled with multiple nationally ranked times. Raposo’s converted time of 4:12.36 would currently place him eleventh on the Div. III leaderboard. Finally, Tufts had three finishers in the top ten of the 600-meter event. Junior Nico Agosti finished fourth with a time of 1:24.06, Doyle finished sixth in a time of 1:24.68 and sophomore Gavin Tasker finished in a time of 1:25.32, good for tenth place. DiMaiti placed third in the 400 meters with a time of 49.98 seconds.

DiMaiti said he is pleased with the performance of the team so far this season and looks forward to the Jumbos’ upcoming meets.

“We’ve seen a lot of impressive performances,” he said. “I’m very excited by the potential our team has to be successful during the upcoming indoor championship season. In particular, I am excited for the Div. III New England Championship meet, which will be at Middlebury… We won this meet last year, and I am confident we are in a good position to make a mark there this season.”

With a number of crucial meets on the horizon for the Jumbos, DiMaiti is not the only one ready.

“With the championship part of the season coming up, I’ll be looking to win some races to score points for my team,” Watanabe said.

With performances like the one the Jumbos turned in at the Cupid Challenge, they look to be in solid form. This weekend, the squad will be split between the two-day David Henry Invitational at Boston University and the MIT Invitational.