The Jumbos finished second at the Snowflake Classic this weekend, taking place at their very own Ellis Oval. It was the first outdoor meet this year. The event was most teams’ first New England meet of the spring season, featuring NESCAC rivals Amherst, Wesleyan, Conn. College, Hamilton and Trinity, among others. Despite resting many of their top distance runners, the Jumbos still had a stellar weekend full of championship qualifiers and PRs, and were only 6.5 points away from the meet winner, RPI.
In the short distance events, the Jumbos got a first-place finish from the 4×100-meter team of juniors Jordan Abate and Rob Jones and seniors Andrew Kardonsky and Brandon Levenstein. The team’s 42.7 time is good for 36th in Div. III, while the same squad with sophomore OJ Armstrong instead of Levenstein currently holds the 12th best time in the event.
Kardonsky continued his strong day by finishing second in the 100-meter dash with a 10.98 time, a mere 0.02 seconds off of Robert Allen of Trinity. Jones also ran in the finals of the event, finishing eighth to score a point for the Jumbos.
Senior Josh Etkind had a standout day in the 100-meter hurdles, bounding to a first-place finish in 14.71 seconds. This mark launched Etkind into sixth in the Div. III rankings, the Jumbos best national finish of the meet. First-year Riley Patten also had a stellar result in the hurdles, finishing second at the meet in the 400-meter hurdle event. The Groton, Mass. native now sits at the 20th spot in Div. III for the event, yet another national top 50 national finish for the Jumbos.
The class of 2022 proved to be strong across the board: First-year Neerav Gade ran to a second place finish in the 5k with a time of 15:40.35. In the 10k, first-year Joseph Harmon finished in third with 32:33.14.
The Jumbos collected four more first-place finishes in the field events, two at the hands of junior phenom Kevin Quisumbing. Hailing from Los Angeles, Calif., Quisumbing beat his best-ever hammer throw mark from last week’s meet in his home state, which won him his first-ever first-place finish in the event. The junior earned his second shot put victory in a row with a 15.24-meter heave.
“I’ve just gotten a lot more confident with it, a lot more comfortable,” Quisumbing said. “I’ve started just leaning on my preparation and trusting my craft.”
Quisumbing, who says he’s actually weaker this year despite putting up career numbers, is also a starting defensive lineman on the football team, which he recognizes as a huge mental advantage.
“Just having such a good winning season in the fall gives me that confidence that I can go out there, and I can win,” he explained.
In the long jump, sophomore Matthew Mantiega dominated with a jump of 6.86 meters, good for a career best and a national ranking of 16th. Mantiega finished first alongside senior vaulter Benji Wallace, who launched himself to an eighth career victory in the pole vault with a 4.4-meter mark.
Earning victories in the field events as well as on the track was a big reason for the team’s strong day. The Jumbos’ consistent ability to score points across all disciplines was the most impressive thing coach Joel Williams saw this weekend. Williams understands the importance of building chemistry on a team where the skill sets of each athlete are all different yet equally important for the team’s overall success.
“We encourage each other to learn each other’s PRs and goals, and that makes it easier to get excited and watch as many events as possible,” Williams said. “The guys know that every time someone has a breakthrough or comeback it strengthens the team, so they really rally around that.”
In a meet so early in the season, it’s a great sign that the Jumbos can rest some top runners and still finish second, just a hair behind RPI, who eclipsed Tufts’ tally of 151 with a score of 157.5.
“The competition isn’t all that important this early in the season,” Kardonsky said. “Instead, we’re focusing on continuing to improve our marks.”
This weekend, some of the Jumbos’ top performers will trek to Princeton, N.J. to compete at the Sam Howell Invitational on Friday, while the rest will travel just a few T-stops away to compete against MIT, Bates and RPI at MIT.