Men’s track and field team makes strong home debut

Junior James Gregoire clears the high jump bar at the Branwen Smith-King Invitational on Jan 27. Madeleine Oliver / Tufts Track and Field

Tufts men’s track and field opened their season at the Tufts Invitational on Saturday. The Jumbos hosted a number of regional schools at the Gantcher Center in this non-scoring meet.

While this meet represented an important starting point for the season, senior Benji Wallace maintained that the team did not place too much stock in its performances.

“I know a lot of people were shaking off rust,” he said. “For the first-years, it was their first meet, so the marks aren’t too important. It’s just the fact that they put marks down that’s very important for getting into the swing of the season, because we’ve been off for a few weeks. I don’t think anyone’s looking at a bad mark and getting too disappointed or looking at a good mark and getting overly optimistic. This was definitely about getting into the routine of the season.”

The Jumbos know that they should see the season as the marathon that it is and not get overly caught up in early results. Nonetheless, they put forth a number of impressive marks on Saturday.

Senior Anthony Kardonsky claimed victory in the 200-meter. His 22.64-second finish is currently ranked 12th nationally in the 2018-19 season. Kardonsky also came in second in the 60-meter dash, finishing in 7.05 seconds, good for 35th in the nation.

Kardonsky was pleased with his performance, but remained focused on an ultimate goal of being one of the top eight finishers at the Tufts National Qualifying Meet in March. 

“Winning is always fun,” he said. “But this early in the season, times are more important than what place you finish in. I need to keep grinding to reach my goal of becoming All-American at Nationals.”

Wallace also enjoyed an excellent season debut in the pole vault. He cleared 14’5 ¼” (4.40 m), placing second at the meet and 22nd nationally. Wallace saw his performance as a strong mark to build on.

“It was the highest opening height I’ve ever come in at,” he said. “And I got it on a first attempt clear, so that was very exciting. This year I want to carry on all of the momentum that I had last year. In pole vault, there are specific poles, and I had pole goals last year, like getting on stiffer, longer poles. I’m pretty much at the same point, so I’m continuing to work on the same poles that I ended on at the end of last year.”

A number of first-years made their collegiate debuts for the Jumbos. Collin O’Sullivan came in second in the 1,000-meter with a time of 2:36.91. Two other first-years also registered third-place finishes for Tufts: Ben Stein recorded a mark of 20’10” (6.35 m) in the long jump, while Alexander Zsikla went 42’5 ½” (12.94 m) in the triple jump.

Wallace was proud of the first-years’ performances and also recognized team members who missed the meet.

“As a [first-year] on the team, it’s so different from high school,” he said. “It’s like a part-time job just working out. But I was very impressed with all of the [first-years] that competed, and at this meet it wasn’t even our complete team at full-roster strength. There are still people that are still taking time off just because they had extended breaks or other sports.”

Two juniors were also successful. Dylan McEniry placed 3rd in the 1,000-meter with a time of 2:37.65, while Kevin Quisumbing took fourth in the shotput with a 47’3 ¼” (14.42 m), achieving a national ranking of 40th.

“We had a great opener to the season,” Kardonsky said, “and it’s good to see hard work pay off. However, we’ll be competing through the end of May, so it’s important to continue improving and not lose sight of the bigger picture.”

Wallace also touched on the “bigger picture,” making the Jumbos’ goals for the season very clear.

“I think everyone is still remembering the Division III New England meet at the end of last year, which we won,” he said. “I think it’s very doable to win that again this year at [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. I mean, we’re also thinking about that same meet—Division III New England—for outdoor, but indoor first.”

The promising squad will compete this Saturday at the Bowdoin Invitational.