Jumbos take first place at Sunshine Classic

Senior co-captain Sam Little strides to a fifth-place finish in the 1,500 meters at the Sunshine Classic on April 21. Alina Strileckis / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts men’s track team split up across two competitions over the weekend. A handful of athletes competed at Friday’s Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., while the others competed at the Sunshine Classic, which Tufts hosted at Dussault Track on Saturday. The two meets were the final competitions of the team’s regular season, and they served as good preparation for the upcoming NESCAC Championships. The Jumbos performed well again, continuing their run of success in the outdoor season.

Three Jumbos — juniors Colin Raposo, Christian Swenson and Hiroto Watanabe — made the 260-mile trek to Princeton for the Larry Ellis Invitational. Both Raposo and Swenson competed in the 1,500-meter event, while Watanabe competed in the 800 meters. The competition, which featured athletes from Div. I, II and III, was a challenging one. Raposo ran the 1,500 meters in 3:57.17 to finish 29th out of the 57 participating runners. Swenson was not far behind, claiming 32nd place in a time of 3:57.65. Watanabe ran a 1:53.92 in the 800 meters to finish 35th out of 62 competitors. There was no team scoring at the event.

A bit closer to home, Tufts hosted the Sunshine Classic — its last meet of the regular season — under sunny skies on Saturday. First-year Vincent Avallone put on a dominant performance, winning a pair of events and setting multiple personal records in the process. The Chatham, N.J. native won both the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash, setting an overall personal record in the former with a time of 22.85 seconds and an outdoor PR in the latter with 51.19 seconds. Additionally, Avallone claimed a huge 20 points for the team.

“It felt great to win both races,” Avallone said. “We have our NESCAC conference meet next weekend and [New England Div. III Championships] the weekend after, so I hope to channel this positive energy into contributing points for the team over the course of the next few weeks. The strategy was to run fast and to finish both races strong. At this point in the season, we’ve already put in so much work that we expect to run fast. It’s just a matter of being confident in the training when you step up to the line.”

The Jumbos also won first place in five other events. Junior Henry Hintermeister won the the 400-meter hurdles in 58.52 seconds, and sophomore Jackson Mihm won the 800 meters in 1:58.02. In the field events, senior Stefan Duvivier won the high jump competition for the second straight meet with a leap of 1.98 meters. Junior Ben Wallace won the pole vault with a mark of 4.40 meters, and first-year Michael Mecha took home the triple jump title with a 13.61-meter effort.

With their seven wins and various other high finishes, the Jumbos earned 247 team points to take first place in the competition. Tufts blew out the competition, with Plymouth State (160 points) finishing a distant second.

The team will compete in the NESCAC Championships at Trinity on Saturday having won three meets, and finished second in two others this spring. Last year, the Jumbos were runners-up to the Williams Ephs at the championship meet, falling just 11 points short (175–164).

“The team looks great going into NESCACs,” Tufts coach Joel Williams said. “They are confident and this is our primary focus for the outdoor season, so we are ready. I always think we can win the NESCAC championship. It is our team goal every season. That said, until the final seedings come out, there is no way to know how we will match up with the other teams. Even then, we could be a 40-point favorite or a 40-point underdog, and there are still too many uncontrollable things to make a prediction — which is why we go into every meet focusing on what we can control, and that is us giving our best effort and fighting until the final race is over.”