Tufts opened its season at the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener, hosted at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center on Saturday. Only four runners competed for the Jumbos, typical for the early winter tune-up for the team’s distance runners.
Both senior co-captain Jennifer Jackson and junior Nicole Kerrigan competed in the 3,000 meters. Jackson placed 24th and Kerrigan placed 26th of 39 total runners. Jackson’s time of 10:29.97 and Kerrigan’s of 10:35.21 were both personal records.
In the 5,000 meters, senior co-captain Kelsey Tierney ran a time of 18:24.90. Meanwhile, senior Caitlin Porrazzo came in at 19:09.58. Out of the 47 runners who completed the event, Tierney and Porrazzo finished 40th and 47th, respectively.
Despite the meet’s not being scored, runners from a number of schools across the country competed at the event. While many Div. I schools competed at the meet, Div. III schools, like Tufts, typically send a few runners to get qualifying times for the Div. III Championships later in the season, Tierney said.
“This meet, our team and a lot of teams will only send a few distance runners,” Tierney said. “A lot of Div. I schools will fly their runners from the West Coast over because it’s right after nationals are over … we just use [the meet] to try to get qualifiers before indoor actually starts in case we get injured mid-season or something unexpected happens.”
Jackson said that the timing of the race, right after cross country season and before winter break, is beneficial for the distance runners.
“A lot of distance runners, especially [veterans], have the option of running at the meet because we are in pretty good shape coming off of cross country,” Jackson said. “Since it’s a more competitive meet, it’s a really good place to use that fitness and qualify.”
Jackson added that many distance runners saw the event as a transition from the cross country season, since it was the first race of the winter indoor track and field season.
“In cross country, it’s hard to know where you’re at fitness-wise because the times don’t really reflect it sometimes, so it’s a nice place to gauge your fitness,” Jackson said. “I think because you can see where you’re at, it’s nice to see how to train over winter break and see how you are when you come back from that.”
Tierney noted the physical differences in the transition between the cross country season and the indoor track season.
“I forgot how sore my calves get after a track race, especially because we were training for a slower race like a [6,000 meters] on grass for like the past three months, and I just ran a [5,000 meters] on a track, which is just a much faster event,” Tierney said.
According to Tierney, many distance runners are hoping to continue to build on their performance after what was a somewhat frustrating cross country season compared to last year. The Jumbos finished 12th at the NCAA Championship, fifth place at NCAA Regionals and fourth at the NESCAC Championship.
“The distance side of the team, we aren’t satisfied with the season we just ended,” Tierney said. “I think a lot of us are hoping to set a lofty goal for ourselves to maybe go to indoor Nationals this year, especially because they are at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston and a lot of us are from New England or Massachusetts. I think we’re all pretty fired up after a not-so-great past season and excited for the next one.”
The team will continue to train throughout the next month before the first full invitational meet on Jan. 12 at Tufts.