Women’s track and field successful in relays, field events at NEICAAA Championships, Cupid Challenge

Even though the women’s track and field team won only one event on Saturday’s annual Cupid Challenge hosted at the Gantcher Center, several Jumbos set season and career bests. On Friday, four runners competed in the NEICAA Championships at the Reggie Lewis Track & Field Center in Boston, Mass., where they placed fourth in the distance medley.

Senior and co-captain Evelyn Drake was the sole event winner for Tufts on Saturday at the non-team scoring meet, as she won the weight throw at 50’½”.

The Murfreesboro, Tenn. native also placed fifth in the shot put with 34’7¾”, trailing teammate sophomore Nkem Aduka’s second-place 38’3½” effort, a season best for the Tufts team.

Although she performed well, Drake explained that at this point in the season — especially at non-scoring meets like the Cupid Challenge — that she aims more for personal records than first-place finishes.

“It was good; I know I can do a lot better, but it was still a pretty solid day,” Drake said. “[Placing first] is nice in a team scoring meet when we can win, but right now we’re trying to get our best marks. Right now, I’m in a place where if it’s not a PR, I’m not thrilled.”

Aside from the field events, Tufts was most successful in the 4×200-meter, 4×400-meter and 4×800-meter relays on Saturday.

In the 4×200, first-year Tara Lowensohn, first-year Julia Worden, junior Franny Kiles and first-year Luana Machado combined for a fourth-place finish in 1:49.63 — a season best. In the 4×400 meter, Lowensohn, sophomore Kristen Andersen, junior Raquel Whiting and Machado ran a 4:04.61 and finished in second. Their time currently ranks No. 33 nationally, and they are the second Tufts 4×400-meter relay team to place in the top 35; another team currently ranks No. 20 in the 4×800-meter. Junior Lauren Diaz, junior Julia Gake, sophomore Olivia Martin and junior Rhemi Toth finished in a team season-best 9:41.22, earning second place.

Sophomore Olivia Schwern also had a successful day in the sprints, placing fifth in both the 60 meter and 200 meter. Her 8.19 finish in the 60-meter was both a personal record and a Tufts season best, while her time of 27.18 in the 200-meter was also a Tufts season best.

In the 600-meter, Andersen ran a 1:42.59, earned fifth place. Meanwhile, junior Lydia Heely placed third in the 1,000-meter with a time of 3:06.35.

Senior and co-captain Kelsey Tierney ran the 5,000-meter in 18:01.66, earning seventh place and setting a Tufts season best. That mark currently ranks No. 34 nationally for Div. III women’s indoor track and field.

“On Saturday, we had a bunch of personal bests, which was nice to see,” coach Kristen Morwick said. “It was a very competitive meet. […] We had a lot of really nice performances.”

The day before, the distance medley relay team of Diaz, Gake, senior Julia Noble and Toth competed at the NEICAAA Championships in Boston, proving to be one of the strongest Div. III teams in that event in the country.

They finished in 12:01.74, earning fourth place at the meet. More impressively, Tufts was the only Div. III team in the field of mostly Div. I and II teams; Northeastern, a Div. I team, was only 0.03 seconds ahead of Tufts.

“We all weren’t feeling great going into it, but we ended up all running well and we’re now ranked third in Div. III,” Toth said. “But we’re going to have to draw up a lot of time by the end of the season [to qualify for the NCAA Championships].”

Morwick was also impressed, but not surprised, by the result in the distance medley relay.

“[I was not surprised] based on what we had seen them do in workouts — it was just the first time putting it together,” Morwick said. “And I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. There’s no set mark [to qualify for nationals] — they just take the top 12 relays — so we’ll probably run it again at our Tufts Last Chance meet.”

As the regular season winds down, Tufts will compete at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational at Boston University and the MIT Invitational this weekend. According to Morwick, only about 15 athletes will go to the meet at BU, while most athletes who compete in the field and short sprint events will compete at MIT.

“BU is not a great place for the field events,” Morwick said. “It’s a limited field, and it’s teams from all over the country from Div. I, II, III, so they’re only taking a set amount of athletes. And, the venues aren’t that great for performances. Our kids will get a chance to get like six throws [at MIT] versus three at BU, so it’s just a much better, competitive situation for our field events.”

After this weekend, the Jumbos will set their sights on the New England Div. III Championships, hosted at Bowdoin on Feb. 22 and 23. Qualifying for this meet is one of the main goals throughout the regular season for most athletes on the team.

“I think we have a really good chance of scoring high at New Englands,” Drake said. “We have a lot of people who have stepped up this year and also a lot of [first-years] how have come in and been really solid as soon as they got here. So, that’s the definitely the main focus right now — getting more people qualified and getting more people into positions to score well.”