The men’s track and field team hosted the annual Cupid Challenge on Saturday at the Gantcher Center. The team won only one event, but athletes earned top five finishes in several events, and four of Tufts’ results rank in the top 50 for Div. III track and field.
One of the most impressive results on the day was the distance medley relay (DMR) team consisting of sophomore Nick Delaney, first-year Andrii Campbell, first-year Evan Ensslin and senior Matt D’Anieri. The team finished in second place with a time of 10:00.29, only behind the squad from Div. II American International College, which set the Gantcher Center facility record. This performance gives the Jumbos a chance to qualify for the national NCAA Div. III meet with their DMR squad, as that time currently ranks No. 1 nationally in Div. III.
D’Anieri doubled events in this meet, also placing first in the 600 meters with a personal best time of 1:22.06 — the only win at the meet for the Jumbos.
Coach Joel Williams commented on D’Anieri’s contribution to the team in competing in the two events.
“Doubling in the mid distance races is incredibly difficult, but Matt made it look like an easy day,” Williams wrote in an email to the Daily. “Anchoring our distance medley relay to a (likely) NCAA biding then coming back to win the 600 in a Tufts All-Time Top 10 time was very impressive. Over his 4 years here Matt has proven that he is one of the most gutsy and talented mid-distance runners I’ve seen.”
Personal records were not only a theme for D’Anieri — who has notched three for this season in the 600 meters, 1,000 meters and mile races — but for many other athletes, ranging from the long distance and mid-distance races to the pole vaulting and throwing events.
Senior Roman Lovell ran a 1:55.56 personal record in the 800 meters, finishing in third place. Lovell’s finish currently ranks No. 22 in Div. III.
In the long distance events, senior Taylor Wurts broke his personal record 3,000 meter time with a ninth place finish at 8:56.03, while junior Harry Steinberg achieved his personal best in the 5,000 meters, placing second with a time of 15:03.49, which currently ranks No. 28 in Div. III.
Apart from the abilities of the athletes, Steinberg credited the personal successes to a variety of confidence boosting factors.
“We had five or six personal bests,” Steinberg said. “It’s an exciting time of year when you come after winter break and it’s a time when you get the first training block in.”
Steinberg also noted that the team had a lot of home meets this season and they know the facility and competition well.
The younger members of the team did not disappoint either, with first-year Hunter Farrell matching his previous personal best of 14’ 7.25” in the pole vault, maintaining a mark that ranks No. 48 in Div. III.
First-year Raphael Obu threw 42′ 6″ in the weight throw, a personal best and an improvement of nearly nine feet compared to his last competition.
“Raphael had never touched a shot or weight prior to December,” Williams wrote. “His throw in the weight throw on Saturday was not only a 2.5m/9ft [a personal record], but it catapulted him into the Tufts Freshman Top 10 at #7. He is a fantastic athlete and his hard work is starting to pay off!”
With their confidence growing, the Jumbos now head into the latter part of the season and are preparing for the New England Div. III Indoor Championships on Feb. 28 and 29. This weekend, the team will compete at Boston University’s (BU) David Hemery Valentine Invite and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Gordon Kelly Invitational.
“We send our top runners to BU because it is one of the fastest tracks in the country and the intensity of the meet always helps produce great marks,” Williams said in the email. “MIT has a great venue for the field events so we always get lots of championship qualifying marks there as well!”