On Sunday, the Tufts men’s track and field team competed at the Last Chance Qualifier, held at Boston University. The meet included athletes from Div. I, II and III schools, as well as high school and club track teams. Despite competing against athletes in higher divisions, the Jumbos performed well, with some improving their national standing.
A dozen Jumbos competed at the meet, which gave runners an opportunity to post faster times before NCAA Championships (March 9–10 in Birmingham, Ala.). Among them were senior co-captain Drew DiMaiti and senior Stefan Duvivier, who set a personal record and a season record, respectively. DiMaiti ran the 400 meters in 48.29 seconds, placing fourth overall at the meet and besting the time of 48.80 seconds that he posted earlier this season at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational, also held at BU. The Medford native’s previous time had ranked him 21st in Div. III, but DiMaiti advanced nine spots with his new time and is now ranked 12th.
“I had really been focusing on this meet,” DiMaiti said. “I knew running on the BU banked track would be my best opportunity to set a new personal best. It was very exciting to set that new mark. I was fortunate that so many of my teammates were there at BU to support me. I love the atmosphere at BU, and it was even more special to have my friends and family there to cheer me on. I am hoping that this 400 time gets me into Nationals. There is still one more week of competition, but that time usually makes it. I am also very excited to be on our [distance medley relay team], which should qualify for Nationals. It is a very fun event and we have a great squad in it.”
Duvivier also posted a season-best mark in the high jump. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native recorded a jump of 2.06 meters, earning him third place at the Last Chance Qualifier. Duvivier’s previous season-best leap of 2.04 meters had ranked 19th in the nation, and his new mark puts him 13th.
First-year OJ Armstrong also put in a good showing at the meet. He ran the 200-meter dash in 22.26 seconds, good for 23rd place in a talented field, which included three other Jumbos. The time was a personal record for Armstrong, who edged out Tufts junior Anthony Kardonsky (22.31 seconds) in the process. With Kardonsky in the midst of a superb individual season — his 200-meter time at New England Div. III Championships (21.87 seconds) ranks 21st in the country — Armstrong’s performance was quite impressive.
The Jumbos have just one more meet until NCAA Championships, so it was important that DiMaiti and Duvivier improved their national rankings — only the top 15 athletes in each event receive invitations to the national meet. Tufts Coach Joel Williams recognizes that the Jumbos’ spots at Nationals are not secure quite yet, but he remains confident.
“Drew and Stefan’s marks have historically traveled, but the nature of our sport is that the top 15 changes every week, so you just don’t know until the list goes final at midnight on Saturday,” Williams said. “Both are likely to compete this weekend to better their marks and climb up in the rankings.”
Tufts will host another national qualifying meet at the Gantcher Center on March 9, the team’s final event before Nationals. Williams is optimistic that even more Jumbos will record top-15 marks at the meet.
“We are hoping to qualify at least three more events and two more athletes this weekend,” Williams said. “Anthony Kardonsky and Josh Etkind have been running consistently at a national level. But we also have four or five other guys that have what it takes to make big improvements and get in the conversation. Each week, someone new impresses me, and we have a national-level field coming to compete. We hopefully will have a solid group of guys traveling to Birmingham. Every year, our goal is to improve on the NCAA finish from the previous year. Last winter we were 18th with 11 points. If we pick up the qualifiers, I think we should have another special performance next weekend.”