After nearly two years, the men’s track and field team returned to Ellis Oval at Tufts on Sunday, competing against Wesleyan, Conn. College and Trinity. While there were few spectators, the energy was unmistakable, with Jumbo athletes seizing the opportunity and dominating the meet across the board.
“It was exciting to see the track set up for a meet for the first time, because we’ve been having practice there all year. It was exciting to have a big event like that on campus,” said first-year distance runner Adam Bernstein.
Tufts scored 239.5 points, which was more than 100 points better than the second-place finisher, Trinity. A large portion of this high score came from multiple individual winning performances, especially from the newcomers. First-year Luke Botsford won both the 200- and 400-meter races with times of 21.92 seconds and 48.95 seconds respectively, which were both personal bests.
Botsford was also part of the winning 4-x-400 meter race team, which included a sophomore contingent of Marcus Hardy, Andrii Campbell and Alex Lemieux, and achieved a time of 3:25.31.
In other short distance events, first-year Reid Corless finished first in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 57.96 seconds and senior OJ Armstrong placed second in the 100-meter dash, crossing the line in 11.53 seconds. Corless also performed well in the triple jump, achieving second place with a mark of 12.82 meters.
The great performances by all the athletes coupled with finally being able to compete contributed to a high level of energy during the meet.
“The energy everybody had was high, especially since everybody has been waiting to compete for so long,” said Botsford.
The success, however, didn’t stop with the short distance events. Along with Corless’ triple-jump performance, the field events were filled with Tufts wins. First-year Louis Tuccio placed first in the shot put with a throwing distance of 13.55 meters and first-year Nik Karns won the javelin event throwing a distance of 46.87 meters.
Senior Matthew Manteiga and junior Ben Stein also placed second and third, respectively, in the long jump, with Mantegia only 0.01 meters off the best jump. Finally, first-year Harry Rienecker-Found won the high jump, jumping an impressive 1.95 meters height.
The long distance events were highlighted by a 3000-meter steeplechase win by senior Peter Horvath in a time of 10:00.11, and a collective three-man finish for third, fourth and fifth place in the 1500-meter by sophomore Evan Ensslin, junior Sam Gatti and first-year Jackson O’Toole, respectively.
The 5000-meter race also featured this same type of teamwork with Bernstein, sophomore Oliver Printy and senior Michael Kennedy working off of each other to place seventh, eighth and ninth, while securing crucial points for their team.
“I saw my teammate Michael Kennedy 30 meters ahead of me and I sort of used him to pull myself in the race,” said Bernstein.
While the individual performances were outstanding at this meet, this team dynamic is really what defines the men’s track team this season.
“I would say it’s [camaraderie] definitely improved just because everyone is so excited to be back and and around people,” said Botsford. “Just this simple opportunity to be together is making us really want to do well in our races because we obviously want to keep this going for as long as possible.”
Especially for first-years, success on the track in spite of the ongoing pandemic can be attributed to the emphasis on togetherness.
“For [first-years, the pandemic] has made us very appreciative of the team dynamic,” said Bernstein. “It’s definitely a big part of my social life here at Tufts.”
From here, the Jumbos will prepare for their final four meets of the season, with their next one at Trinity this Saturday against the same three opponents. The mindset will now shift.
“Moving towards the end of the season, the training lightens up so that you feel more race ready. Throughout a lot of the early season training you’re working super hard and getting in shape and then you want to peak at the right time,” Bernstein said.