The men’s track and field team competed at Springfield College for the second week in a row, this time at the two day New England Div. III Championship on Friday and Saturday. Placing third overall in the meet, with a total score of 67.5 behind Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Williams, Tufts was led by many top event finishes, as well as personal bests.
Saturday’s events were led by a thrilling win in the mile by senior Matt D’Anieri with a personal best of 4:14.43, which currently ranks 15th nationally in Div. III. D’Anieri also secured third place in the 1,000 meters with a time of 2:31.34.
“The MVP of our meet was easily Matt D’Anieri,” sophomore Nick Delaney said. “He won one of the most dramatic mile races I’ve ever seen, coming out of the inside lane and taking the win in the mile for 10 points, which a Tufts runner hasn’t had in a very long time.”
A flurry of second place finishes were achieved by the younger members of the team. Delaney ran a 2:31.20 in the 1,000 meters, first-year Evan Ensslin ran a 1:54.50 in the 800 meters and first-year Andrii Campbell posted a 1:22.10 in the 600 meters.
Delaney and Enslinn doubled events this meet as part of a 4×800 meters relay team that also consisted of sophomore Collin O’Sullivan and senior co-captain Danny Klain. The squad finished fifth in the event with a time of 8:01.87.
“We were all doubling, and we all had pretty strong individual events,” Delaney said. “So I’m certainly happy with our ability to come back less than an hour later after the 800 and the 1,000, for the squad of us, being able to execute the way we did and score some more points that helped us fend off Amherst for third.”
The team effort to accumulate points was the story for the Jumbos throughout the meet. The athletes who came first, second and third achieved 10, eight and six points, respectively, in their events. However, there were also other much needed point contributions that helped secure the team’s third-place finish.
The two day heptathlon event was led by sophomore Ben Stein, who finished fifth overall in the event with 4,656 points. The highlight of his performance was a first place finish in the 1,000 meters with a time of 2:45.13. Not only was this overall heptathlon score a personal best, but he also gave Tufts four much needed points in the overall team rankings and posted a top 25 national performance for Div. III.
In other events, first-year Willy White finished in seventh place in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.52, securing two points. Sophomore Neerav Gade finished in eighth place in the 5,000 meters with a time of 15:13.66, gaining one point for the Jumbos, while first-year Hunter Farrell scored 3.5 points in the pole vault with a jump of 14’ 5 1/4”.
“I think the team did really great,” Campbell said. “I have a lot of optimism about the team, and it gives me a lot of confidence to be a part of a team that is easily top three in [the meet].”
Optimism and teamwork were indeed themes that were present throughout the two days of competition. Despite the individual nature of competing in track and field, the Jumbos still treated the meet as a team effort and were able to succeed with that mindset in the high-pressure environment that comes with competing in a championship meet.
“It’s important that we love hearing our teammates chanting ‘Go!’ on the sidelines, we love that, and it’s just special,” Delaney said. “The indoor track is such a tight space, and you hear everyone and see everyone, and it’s a great time.”
The Jumbos are now preparing for the Tufts National Qualifying Meet on Saturday at the Gantcher Center, where many of the athletes will have their last chance to qualify for the NCAA Div. III Championships that will take place the following weekend in Winston-Salem, N.C. The mindset going into these meets is unwaveringly team-oriented.
“These championship meets, we don’t care about the time,” Delaney said. “A lot of us don’t [get personal records], or don’t really think about it, and it’s all about the finish because at the end of the day, the title will almost always be more important than the [personal record].”