Tufts competed at the NCAA Regional Championship on Saturday, hosted by Bowdoin in Brunswick, Maine. The team excelled at the competition and finished in fifth place out of 58 teams, with a total of 160 points. Amherst finished first with 65 points, followed by Williams (86), Middlebury (142) and MIT (145). The Jumbos’ fifth-place finish granted them an at large-bid to the NCAA Championship.
At Regionals, senior co-captain Colin Raposo finished first for the Jumbos and 24th out of all the athletes at the competition with a time of 25:57.64. Raposo has been in top form lately, finishing as the team’s leading runner in his past three races.
Along with Raposo, the top four Tufts runners finished with times very close to one another, which was vital to the team’s success. Senior Brian Reaney followed just behind his classmate Raposo in 25th with a time of 25:48.00.
“I’m happy with our performance,” Reaney said. “It was really cool to finish with three other guys right next to me. Hiroto [Watanabe] had a sick race too, running guys down in the last two miles getting point after point. When you consider that we only beat Bates by one point, that’s pretty cool.”
Senior Andrew Doherty Munro wasn’t far from the two leading Jumbos, coming in 28th with a time of 25:49.33. Senior Dylan Jones followed close behind, as he clocked a time of 25:53.26 for 30th place. Watanabe wrapped up the scoring for the Jumbos with a time of 26:14.57, good for 53rd place. To round out the top seven, sophomore Peter Horvath (26:38.02) and senior Rory Buckman (26:40.47) finished 75th and 77th, respectively.
The 8k race was won by Plymouth State senior Sam Brunnette, who finished with a time of 24:55.97. Impressively, Brunnette improved on his winning time at last year’s meet by about half a minute.
“Our goal for the day was to place in the top five to likely secure our spot at Nationals,” Raposo told the Daily in an email. “So just edging out Bates for the number five spot in the region was a great day for us. Personally, I would’ve liked to place a bit higher as an individual and beat some of the NESCAC runners who I ran with at NESCACs, but I placed 11 spots better than last year so I can’t really complain. Regionals was a great day across the board with four guys getting [All-Region] … and some great performances from the rest of our seven. Hiroto [Watanabe] probably had the race of the day moving up twenty spots over the last two miles. Rory [Buckman] and Pete [Horvath] … also played a super important role getting everyone else in a good position through the race.”
The Jumbos’ performance at Regionals was not enough to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA National Championship, but they were selected for an at-large bid — their first at-large team bid since 2015, when the team finished 17th out of 32 teams. Meanwhile, Tufts’ last representatives at Nationals were Tim Nichols (LA ’17) and Luke O’Connor (LA ’17) in 2016, who finished third and 20th with times of 24:09.7 and 24:42.4, respectively.
A bid to Nationals, therefore, was a welcome return for the team.
“Getting an at-large bid was really exciting but mostly a huge relief,” Reaney said. “We knew we performed well and looked good compared to other regions, but given what happened two years ago — we got fifth but no bid even though we really should have — we couldn’t be sure.”
The Jumbos will compete in the NCAA Championship on Saturday in Winneconne, Wis.
“We’re super excited for the meet this weekend,” Raposo said. “It’s such a big meet that we never know what can happen. We’re ranked 27th by the National Coaches Poll, so we’d really like to beat that. There are definitely some bonus points for finishing 21st or better to beat the finish of the 2015 team, which our assistant coach Nick [Guarnaccia] ran on.”