Tufts track and field travels to Alabama for national championships

Senior co-captain Annalisa DeBari wins the 60-meter hurdles at the Cupid Challenge on Feb. 3. Madeleine Oliver / Tufts Track and Field

This weekend, members of the Tufts men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete in the 2018 NCAA Div. III National Indoor Championships at Birmingham-Southern University in Birmingham, Ala. The men’s team is sending six athletes, who are entered in five events, while the women’s team will be represented by six athletes who will compete in four events.

Senior co-captain Drew DiMaiti will run in two events at Nationals for the Jumbos. He will run in the 400 meters after nabbing the 15th and final qualifying spot at Boston University’s Last Chance Qualifier with a time of 48.29 seconds. The Medford native will also run for Tufts’ distance medley relay (DMR) team along with juniors Christian Swenson, Hiroto Watanabe and Colin Raposo. Tufts posted the nation’s eighth-fastest DMR mark this season with a converted time of 9:52.58 at the Gantcher Center just six days ago. DiMaiti is excited to represent his school at the national level and is hoping for great performances out of both himself and the team.

“I love Tufts, so I am always excited to be representing our school on the national stage like this,” DiMaiti said. “I am hoping to be successful in both the 400 meters and the distance medley relay. In the ideal scenario, I would place in both, and I am definitely going to try my best to do that. I know our guys are ready to give it our all, and I expect a lot of big performances out of everyone.”

The Jumbos will compete in three other events at the men’s championships. Watanabe will run the 800 meters, an event in which he posted the third fastest time among all Div. III athletes this season with a 1:50.98 at the Tufts-hosted Cupid Challenge on Feb. 3. Watanabe competed in the same event at Nationals last year, finishing in eighth place in a time of 1:56.93. Junior Anthony Kardonsky will run in the 200-meter dash after his converted time of 21.74 seconds at the Tufts National Qualifying Meet propelled him into a tie for 13th in the country. Representing Tufts in the field events at Nationals is senior Stefan Duvivier in the high jump. Duvivier’s clearance of 2.10 meters on Saturday matched a school record and is tied for fifth in the country. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native finished in 10th place in the high jump at NCAA Championships last year, clearing a height of 1.97 meters.

On the women’s side, senior co-captain Brittany Bowman will lead the way. The four-time All-American will participate in two long distance events: the 5,000 meters on Friday and the 3,000 meters on Saturday. Bowman qualified for the 3,000 meters with the fourth-best time in Div. III (9:40.91) and the 5,000 meters with the seventh-best (16:58.08). She competed in the latter event at last year’s Indoor Nationals and finished in eighth place with a time of 17:06.47.

“I’m very excited to compete at Nationals,” Bowman said. “Running this double will be hard, but I’ll have to focus on recovery and staying as positive and confident as I can. Both races are wide open, meaning anyone could be All-American [and] anyone could be top three or win, so my only expectation for myself is that I leave it all out there and finish with no regrets. These races are tactical and sometimes will come down to who is mentally toughest when it’s the last part of the race.”

Bowman also helped Tufts qualify for the distance medley relay at the Tufts National Qualifying Meet, but since the race will begin only an hour after the 5,000 meters, she has decided to focus on her individual event. Instead, junior Sarah Perkins will run the 1,600-meter anchor leg for the DMR team, combining with sophomores Rhemi Toth and Julia Gake and first-year Olivia Martin. Tufts comes into the event with the tenth-fastest qualification time of 11:45.96.

Lastly, senior co-captain Annalisa DeBari will compete in the 60-meter hurdles. DeBari qualified for the event with a school-record mark of 8.80 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in the country. The Melrose, Mass. native competed in the same event at Nationals last year, finishing in fifth place with a time of 8.86 seconds to garner All-American recognition.

On the team-scoring side, both the men’s and women’s squads will look to improve on their finishes last year. The men tied for 18th place with 11 total points, while the women finished in a tie for 41st, scoring five points.