Men's Track and Field | Jumbos to compete for top spot in conference
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 13:11
Returning five of six All-Americans from last year’s squad, the Tufts indoor men’s track and field team will seek to improve on its 17th-place showing at the 2011-2012 Div. III Championships, as well as to establish itself as a regional and conference powerhouse.
Led by seniors Gbola Ajayi, Matt Rand, Jeff Marvel and Curtis Yancy, the Jumbos are in prime position to make a run at the NESCAC title and to surpass their regional and national finishes from a year ago.
Ajayi, who was sixth in the nation in the triple-jump last indoor season with a jump of 14.73m, and Yancy, a weight throw specialist who faulted on each of his three attempts at nationals last year, will anchor the field events. Models of consistency throughout the season, both athletes earned third place or better in their respective events with impressive regularity.
Up-and-coming sophomore Brian Williamson will also provide some depth after a stellar freshman indoor season in which he delivered frequently at championship meets.
Meanwhile, Rand, fresh off his third consecutive All-New England cross-country season, heads the distance crew. Classmates Kyle Marks and Tyler Andrews, as well as junior Liam Cassidy, round out the core of the distance squad — the mile, 3,0000-meter and 5,000-meter runners, respectively.
Last season, Marks and Andrews each posted personal bests, as the former secured his spot in the record books with the third-fastest 3,000-meter time in school history. Rand was ranked in the top 10 nationally in the 5,000 meters after placing 16th at the Valentine Invitational.
Jeff Marvel tore onto the scene at the Open New England Championships when he broke his own school record in the 800-meter. He leads a strong middle-distance group, which includes senior Sam Haney and junior Brian McLoughlin.
McLoughlin will likely be the replacement for last year’s co-captain Connor Rose (LA ‘12) on a distance medley relay team — currently comprised of Marvel, Haney and All-American junior Graham Beutler — that breached the top seven nationally last season.
The sprinting events begin with Beutler, who will be instrumental in building on last year’s success in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 4x400-meter relay. The relay team in particular, having lost only one leg to graduation, will look to clock yet another school record time and perhaps rank even better than 10th nationally. Meanwhile, Beutler recorded a time in the 200m that missed the school record by a mere 10th of a second. In the 400m, he reliably puts up sub-50-second times.
Joining Beutler in the sprint crew are seniors Kayin Cherry, Vinnie Lee and junior Daniel Lange-Vagle. Individually, Cherry and Lange-Vagle will score in the 55-meter and 100-meter races respectively, while Lee and Lange-Vagle will accompany Beutler in the longer sprints and 4x400m relay.
These seasoned vets will look to bolster a sprint crew that has often played second fiddle to the distance crew in recent years, and a solid incoming freshman class should lessen that burden.
“[Freshmen] Woody Butler and Mitchell Black are two long sprinters who have already started leading workouts and pushing their teammates,” Beutler said. “I’m very excited to see what they can do for us in the longer sprint races come January.”
Senior co-captain Brad Nakanishi will lead Tufts in the pole vault, an event in which he fared very well last season. At the New England Championship, he cleared a height of 4.85m, good enough for ninth in the nation and just one inch off the school record.
In addition to the specialty athletes on the team, the Jumbos are fortunate to have a cadre of “multi” athletes whose value to the team lies in their tremendous versatility.
Junior Andrew Osborne, who amassed 4,343 points on the way to a second place finish at the ECAC Championship, leads the way in the heptathlon, while sophomore Allan Yau also hopes to parlay a solid freshman season into greater success.