by Lauren Flament | Daily Editorial Board
The men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams each earned their first victory of the season at the Tufts Invitational I at the Gantcher Center on Saturday. The men’s team earned 187.5 points–well ahead of runner-up UMass Lowell’s 139 and their other eight opponents–while the women tallied 173.33 points in an 11-team field, besting runner-up Worcester State’s tally by 27 points.
Both squads returned to campus with impressive performances, using the meet to gauge their winter training and shake off the rust of their running, jumping and throwing. The men’s squad was led by four victories and 16 top-three performances, while the women’s squad earned two victories and 12 top-three marks.
On the men’s side, two relays scored wins for Tufts. The 4×200 relay of senior Ben Crastnopol, juniors Gbola Ajayi and Lawrence Xia and sophomore Clint Porte crossed the line in 1:35.01 for a victory, while the foursome of sophomores Graham Beutler, Jamie Norton and Bobby McShane and freshman Alex Scheltzer combined for a time of 8:13.54 for first in the 4×800 relay.
Freshman Brian Williamson added an individual first for the Jumbos in the shot put with a throw of 49-4 1/2.
On the distance side, junior Matt Rand crossed the line of the 3,000-meter run in 8:44.07, good for first in the event. Two-tenths of a second behind was sophomore Liam Cassidy in second. Norton also earned a runner-up finish in the 1,000-meter run in a time of 2:31.55
“Winter break training for the distance guys was solid,” assistant coach Nick Welch said. “The main goal was to get ready for the workouts in January and build off the phenomenal cross country season we had. The guys were disciplined and executed that plan well. Now the real work begins.”
Sophomore Trevor Rothaus and junior Curtis Yancy added two second-place finishes in the field events – Rothaus clearing 14-7 1/4 in the pole vault and Yancy throwing a distance of 54-2 in the weight throw. In the sprints, freshman Ptah Osayande earned second in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.72 seconds, and junior Vinnie Lee earned second in the 60-meter dash in 7.26.
“Just like at Husky [Invitational in December], we are several steps ahead of where we were at this point last year,” Welch said. “We already have several guys [ranked] in the top 10 in the country.”
Junior Kelly Allen led the women’s team this weekend with a victory in the weight throw, throwing a distance of 55-1 1/2. The mark broke Allen’s own school record, set last weekend at Dartmouth, by over a foot. Allen also earned runner-up in the shot put with a distance of 41-4 1/4. The marks currently rank Allen first in New England in both events.
The second victory came from the 4×400 relay of freshmen Caitlin Pohl and Lauren Gormer, sophomore Jana Hieber and junior Sam Bissonnette, who combined for a time of 4:13.09.
Sophomore Kristen Roberts contributed two runner-up finishes to the Jumbos. Roberts leaped 33-1 in the triple jump and cleared a height of 4-11 3/4 in the high jump. Senior Heather Theiss added a second-place finish in the pole vault, clearing the bar at a height of 11-5 3/4, a mark that ranks her as the top vaulter in New England. Classmate tri-captain Anya Price crossed the line in second in the 3,000-meter with a time of 10:47.58.
The 4×200 relay of freshmen Christina Harvey and Ayodele Bond and juniors Bissonnette and Alyssa Corrigan took second in their event with a time of 1:52.66. Corrigan also earned runner-up in the 400-meter with a time of 1:02.84.
“Given that everyone just got back from break, it was a really good showing and I definitely saw a significant improvement in the level of competitiveness. Everyone was really fired up and that shows promise for the rest of the season,” senior tri-captain Kayley Pettoruto said. “I was pretty impressed [by the team’s training over break]. People came back in pretty good shape and they didn’t really lose a step.”
While Saturday was the first full-squad meet of the year, a few athletes returned to campus early to compete in the Dartmouth Relays on Jan. 8. Five men and five women traveled to Vermont and earned fourth-place finishes for both short-handed squads.
Junior Brad Nakanishi and Ajayi led the men’s squad, the former clearing a height of 15-5 3/4 to win the pole vault, while Ajayi launched himself a distance of 21-11 3/4, good enough for second place in long jump.
On the women’s side, Allen led the way with a first-place finish in weight throw. Her toss of 53-6 1/4 broke her previous school record of 51-7 from last year, only out-do the mark again on Saturday. Allen, one of several throwers to make a strong 2012 debut at Dartmouth, also earned fifth in shot put with a throw of 41-3 3/4.
Theiss also added a fifth-place finish in the pole vault, clearing a height of 10-11 3/4.
Both squads will travel to the Springfield Invitational on Saturday, looking to make further steps towards a promising season by improving on their marks and hitting championship season qualifiers.