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Men's Track and Field | Jumbos take third at Div. III New England Championships

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 08:02


Oliver Porter / The Tufts Daily

The Jumbos took third this weekend at Div. III New Englands behind four individual event victories.

The Tufts men’s track and field team came off two meets at home and took third place in the Div. III New England Championships held at the University of Southern Maine. Matching their performance from last year, the Jumbos amassed four individual victories across various events and fell just short of surpassing the host team Bates Bobcats for second place.

Senior Mike Blair spurred Tufts at the start with his record−breaking performance in the heptathlon. With victories in the high jump and long jump, Blair built on his own school record with a personal best total of 4,900 points. His score set both a meet and facility record, and it earned him the third spot in the nation in the event.

Senior Gbola Ajayi notched the only other win in the field events for the Jumbos, as his leap of 6.94 meters in the long jump gave him another victory on the season.

“I’m happy with the way things went yesterday,” Ajayi said. “I was really feeling fast and explosive. I haven’t really jumped all that much this year, so it was great to be back on the runway, back fighting with my team.”

And though the Jumbos did not have quite their best day on the field, a number of Tufts athletes still turned in strong performances.

In the pole vault, senior tri−captain Brad Nakanishi finished third with his clearance of 14 feet 11 inches, and sophomore Brian Williamson took fifth in the shot put with his heave of 48 feet, 6 ¾ inches.

In the weight throw, senior tri−captain Curtis Yancy notched a fifth−place finish with his throw of 56 feet one inch. Not far behind was junior Andre Figueroa who placed eighth with his throw of 51 feet two and a quarter inches.

The Jumbos fared quite well on the track as well, thanks in large part to a surging distance squad, led by senior Kyle Marks.

Marks, who has turned in numerous impressive times over the course of the season, dug deep on the last lap of the 5,000 to kick past Bowdoin junior Sam Seekins for his first−ever collegiate victory in a track event in a time of 14:57.92.

“At the beginning of the race a couple guys broke away from the pack and tried to build a big lead, and I stayed in a group of guys trying to chase them, [and] we gradually caught up to Seekins and I passed him with about 150 meters left,” Marks said. “It was nice to be able to win the race because it was my first time winning a track event in college.”

In the mile, junior Jamie Norton ran a time of 4:15.69, good enough for fourth place. The next Tufts runner to cross the line was senior Sam Haney, who finished seven seconds behind Norton to claim 11th place.

The Jumbos had two runner−up finishes on the track as well.

Freshman Mitchell Black, continuing his tremendous rookie campaign, broke the school record in the 600 with a time of 1:20.96, a record untouched since 2007.

Junior Graham Beutler, coming off two weeks sidelined by a case of mononucleosis, finished second in his second race back with a time of 22.91 seconds.

“Personally, I just wanted to go out and have fun with the 200−meter this weekend,” Beutler said. “I went into the meet without expectations for myself since it was only my second back competing. I was excited and a little bit surprised with my results, and very happy to be contributing to the team.”

The Jumbos concluded the meet the same way they began: with a win.

The 4x800 relay team, comprised of Black, senior tri−captain Jeff Marvel, freshman Veer Bhalla, and sophomore Alex Schifter, came away victorious in a time of 7:53.27, less than a second ahead of second−place MIT.

Championship season rolls on next weekend, when Tufts travels to Boston University to compete in the All−New England Championships on Feb. 22 and 23.

“The team put together a great meet on Saturday and showed ourselves that we can definitely compete with the best in Division III New England,” Beutler said. “Continuing into championship season, I think that we can continue improving on our marks.”

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