Men’s track and field gears up for success in the New England Div. III Championships

Sophomore Vincent Avallone stays with the pack during the 400-meter race on Jan. 27, 2018. (Madeleine Oliver / The Tufts Daily)

The New England Div. III Championships, the most important event of the indoor season, is finally upon us. Tufts has won the championship the past two consecutive years, and hopes to continue its trajectory at the two-day event hosted at MIT on Friday and Saturday. In preparation for the upcoming championship, a group of Jumbos competed in the Triangle Classic hosted at Springfield College on Saturday.

Although many of the team’s usual competitors rested in preparation for the championship meet, the Jumbos in attendance put up strong performances. Senior Brian Reaney set a personal record in the 3k with a time of 8:54.21, which earned him second place. Reaney was closely followed by sophomore Peter Horvath, whose 8:54.41 secured him the third-place spot.

Sophomore Daeseob Lim matched his personal record in the pole vault, reaching a height of 4.10 meters. Senior Charles Pennington also hit a personal record, clearing 1.90 meters in the high jump. Pennington matched the same height he hit at the Bowdoin Invite II in January.

The 600-meter race stood out as an event highlight to coach Joel Williams,who acknowledged the hard work and resiliency of junior Danny Klain and senior Nico Agosti. Klain finished the race with a time of 1:25.90, which was four seconds faster than the time he posted at the Branwen-Smith King Invitational a few weeks prior and almost a second better than his performance the week before at the Gordon Kelly InvitationalAgosti managed to reach the qualification mark with a 1:25.51 finish, a feat he accomplished despite having been plagued with an injury-heavy winter season.

The team has tapered their workouts this past week in order to focus on fine-tuning their performance. With the New England Championship within reach, the energy of the team is palpable.

“I think most people on the team have been thinking about this meet for weeks, if not months,” senior co-captain Benji Wallace said. “Everyone wants to compete already.”

This year’s championship holds a special significance for the team, as they are competing as the first team in program history to hold back-to-back titles at the meet. Williams pointed out another interesting connection — next year will mark the 40th anniversary of when the Tufts team won their first New England Div. III Championship. Williams noted that the Jumbos always bring intensity to the meet and have been able to put up strong performances as a result.

The team gets really fired up for it and this meet has always seen Tufts track and field do really well,” Williams said in an email to the Daily.

Although the team is not the No. 1 seed entering the event, the Jumbos feel confident that they are equipped to continue their winning legacy. Wallace explained that while the team was the top seed of the championship last year, they were not seeded first the year before last, when they began their winning streak.

Regardless of their rank, the team is confident in its ability to succeed and is motivated to claim another victory. Senior Colin Raposo echoed the team’s eagerness to perform well at the meet.

“Our team goal is to come back and win the meet for the third year in a row,” Raposo said. “This year our focus has definitely shifted. We are more well-rounded now and are looking to score better in distance events while keeping our strength in the sprint and field events.”

A middle-distance runner himself, a personal goal for Raposo is to win the mile race. Raposo feels confident that Tufts has the talent to secure victories in the other middle distance events, such as the 600-meter, 800-meter and 1k races, since the Tufts team is loaded with veteran talent in these events.

Senior Tommy Doyle is the first seed in the 600, while senior co-captain and two-time All-American Hiroto Watanabe is among the group representing Tufts in the 800. Junior Matt D’Anieri is currently the third seed for the 1000-meter race, yet has shown the potential to place first in the event.

A personal goal of Wallace is to win the pole vault event. Wallace is seeded second by one centimeter and, based on his strong performances all season, first place is within reach.

Although Coach Williams is invested in the team’s performance, he emphasizes the importance of finding fulfillment in hard work.

We always want to win this meet, but our primary goal is always to have best performances,” Williams said. “That is the only thing we can control, and if we do that, we will fare very well as a team.”