Led by several strong performances from first-years and sophomores, the women’s indoor track and field team captured victories in 10 individual events in the first full meet of the winter season on Saturday.
The Jumbos hosted teams from ten schools — Bridgewater State, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Coast Guard, Emmanuel, Keene State, Springfield, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, Wentworth and Worcester State — at the Gantcher Center in the non-scoring meet. It was the first of three home meets this season.
Tufts runners came in first place in the 400, 600, 800 and 1000 meter sprints, and Tufts relay teams won the 4 x 200 meters and the 4 x 400 meters. Tufts athletes also won four field events — the pole vault, long jump, triple jump and weight throw.
“We only had about 35 kids compete, just because not everybody was ready coming off of a break, and we had some people returning from abroad and stuff like that,” coach Kristen Morwick said. “All things considered, I thought it went well for all the kids that competed.”
In the 400 meter event, junior Julia Gake finished in first with a time of 1:00.41, while first-year Luana Machado finished strong in fourth at 1:01.86. The Jumbos dominated the 600 meters event: first-year Tara Lowensohn (1:41.47), sophomore Scarlet Bliss (1:44.15) and sophomore Hannah Norowitz (1:44.74) took first, second and third place, respectively.
First-year Hannah Neilon won the 800 meter event at 2:19.64 and junior Rhemi Toth came in a close second at 2:19.78, good for 8th and 9th nationally for the 2019 indoor season. In the 1000 meter, sophomore Olivia Martin placed first with a time of 3:11.53, junior Sarah Oliver in third at 3:16.53 and sophomore Emily Murray in sixth at 3:23.40.
The 4 x 200 meter team of junior Raquel Whiting, first-year Julia Worden, senior Kylene DeSmith and junior Franny Kiles narrowly edged out Spingfield’s team by less than half a second with a time of 1:50.47. Meanwhile, the 4 x 400 meter team, comprised of three first-years — Lowensohn, Machado and Neilon — and Gake, placed first with a time of 4:07.89 out of seven teams.
“I think it definitely shows how much work [the first-years have] been putting in, especially all together, since we all did well,” Neilon said. “It’s definitely showing that our fall training paid off.”
Lowensohn also said she was pleased with her results and that they bode well for the rest of the season.
“It was really exciting,” Lowensohn said. “I’m really new to track, so that was one of my first times racing the 600, but it was a lot of fun and I’m excited to see what the rest of the season has.”
The Jumbos saw success in the field events as well, with first place finishes in all but the shot put and the high jump.
Senior Sydney Ladner won the pole vault with a distance of 10’0” (3.05 meters) and senior Sharon Kelmar closely followed in second with 9’6.25” (2.90 meters). DeSmith’s 16’1.75” (4.92 meters) long jump clinched her first place finish, while Worden won the triple jump at 32’11.25” (10.04 meters). Senior co-captain Evelyn Drake won the weight throw with a distance of 50’3.5” (15.33 meters), and Sophomore Jacqueline Kirk missed first place in the high jump by three inches. Her 5’3” (1.60 meters) jump earned her a second place finish.
“That’s like a three-meter PR for [Drake], so to open up with that is pretty awesome,” Morwick said.
Aside from the first-years, four Jumbos set personal records: Norowitz in the 600 meters, Oliver in the 1000 meter, Drake in the weight throw and Kirk in the high jump.
Jumbos attributed some of their success to the timing of the meet. Since the meet took place before the start of class, the team had a whole week to turn their undivided attention toward preparing for the meet.
“It was kind of weird because it’s very different from what I’m used to, but it was also really nice because we didn’t really have anything else to focus on,” Neilon said. “We just got to focus on the meet, and we didn’t have to worry about assignments and homework and things like that.”
When preparing for meets, Morwick emphasizes the importance of team building activities.
“We typically do a couple sessions a day, but they’re not all physical sessions — so one might be like goal setting or team bonding,” Morwick said. “It’s a pretty strenuous week, so we use it for a jumpstart back into indoor track.”
With the weekend’s success achieved by students of every class year, Morwick is optimistic for the season.
“The two largest classes are the freshmen and sophomore classes, and we have a really great core of seniors [for whom] this is their last go-around, so I’m pretty excited for them,” Morwick said.
The Jumbos hope to continue their success on the track this Saturday in Brunswick, Maine at the Bowdoin Invitational meet.