Jumbos win annual SnowFlake Classic at Ellis Oval

First-year Alexandra Wolf runs the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the SnowFlake Classic on Saturday. Madeleine Oliver / Tufts Track and Field

Tufts hosted the annual Snowflake Classic at the Clarence “Ding” Dussault Track and Field Complex on Saturday. Every year, the SnowFlake Classic attracts many schools from around New England to Somerville for an early-season meet.

This year was not an exception. A total of 22 universities and colleges participated in the meet, competing in 21 events. The late-March weather conditions — not always co-operative in New England — were very conducive for running, with a temperature around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and warm sunlight streaming down from a clear sky.

The host Jumbos scored 187 total points to outclass the competition, as the Trinity Bantams placed second with only 88.5 points. Tufts athletes placed first in seven of the 21 events, including in two of the three relays.

The highlight of the day happened at the first event. Senior co-captain Brittany Bowman broke her own school record in the 10,000 meters, lowering her mark from 35:22.11 to 34:51.07. Bowman’s time is currently the fastest in all of Div. III this season. The second-place finisher, Wheaton senior Maddie Brucker, was over three and a half minutes behind Bowman. Bowman, who captured indoor national titles in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, was pleased with the start to her hot outdoor season and attributed it to her effort during training.

“It was great to break the 10,000-meter record and PR yesterday because that wasn’t my number one goal,” Bowman told the Daily in an email. “My number one goal going into the race was to run a time that would put me in a good position of qualify[ing] for Nationals in two months. When it comes to training, I am a firm believer in putting effort inside and outside of practice time. I definitely make the most of practice time but when I’m not in practice, I try to also remind myself what I am training for. I try to sleep and eat well, prevent injuries by doing extra strengthening and recover well after tough workouts or races so I can continue to train at a high level.”

In the 4×100-meter relay, the Tufts team of sophomore Raquel Whiting, senior co-captain Annalisa DeBari, junior co-captain Brita Dawson and first-year Olivia Schwern took first place with a time of 49.45 seconds. The quartet’s mark currently ranks No. 35 in the country.

The Jumbos also found success in a variety of other field events on Saturday. Junior Evelyn Drake took ninth place in the hammer throw with a distance of 37.84 meters. Dawson finished third in the long jump (5.11 meters), while junior Sydney Ladner took 10th with a 4.94-meter leap. Ladner also finished third in the pole vault competition with a mark of 2.95 meters. Senior co-captain Jennifer Sherwill took second place in the discus with a throw of 38.88 meters (ranked 29th in the country), while first-year Nkemdilim Aduka took fifth place with 35.28 meters.

The 1,500-meter run took place just after noon, with sophomore Rhemi Toth winning the race with a time of 4:40.74. Toth set a personal record in the event, and her mark currently ranks 21st in Div. III.

DeBari won the 100-meter dash and took third in the 100-meter hurdles. The Melrose, Mass. native won the former in 12.86 seconds before nearly lowering her season-best mark in the latter with a time of 14.81 seconds (just 0.01 seconds off her season-best), which ranks 12th nationally.

Tufts runners recorded strong finishes in a pair of other short-distance events. Sophomore Julia Gake won the 800 meters with a time of 2:21.93. In the 400-meter hurdles, sophomore Nehalem Kunkle-Read (1:06.44) lost to Westfield State junior Lexi Popp (1:04.34).

Junior Kelsey Tierney added to the Jumbos’ highlights by winning the 5,000 meters with a time of 17:46.43 (her career-best and No. 22 nationally). Senior Margot Rashba took third place in the same event with a mark of 18:22.66.

The Jumbos also competed in a pair of relay events. In the 4×400-meter relay, Tufts was beaten out by a dominant Wesleyan squad. The Tufts foursome of DeBari, Whiting, Kunkle-Read and Gake ran the event in 4:13.60, nearly 15 seconds behind Wesleyan’s mark of 3:58.66. The Jumbos responded with a first-place finish in the 4×800-meter relay, laying down a time of 9:54.61. Coach Kristen Morwick was satisfied with her athletes’ performances.

“This year’s SnowFlake was a great meet,” Morwick said. “The only difference this year was the lack of Div. I competition, but the Div. III schools were very competitive coming into the meet. We had some awesome performance. We had a bunch of new kids try the 3k steeplechase, and they all ran really well.

Morwick also commented on the effect of injury on the team’s performance.

“We’ve had some injuries that are keeping the field side from doing better. In the jumps and throws, our top thrower is just getting back into it after having mono [during] indoor season. We have two javelin throwers who have slight injuries and a couple of jumpers who are banged up,” she said.

Looking ahead, some members of the team  will head to the Sam Howell Invite at Princeton this weekend, while others will stick around for a home meet against MIT, Bates and RPI on Saturday.