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Men’s Track and Field | Men’s track looks to regain winning form

Published: Friday, January 17, 2014

Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 03:01

jeff marvel

Courtesy Scott Wilfert

After a month-long hiatus, the Tufts men’s track and field team will return to competition this Saturday at home.

Last season, seven Tufts athletes qualified for the 2013 NCAA Championships in Illinois. Five of those athletes came home with All-American honors. The team finished in the top-25 in team standings as well.

With three of the four members of the second-place distance medley returning, Tufts is once again in position to make a statement at the sport’s marquee meet.

Two of last year’s All-Americans from the outdoor season, senior Ben Wallis and sophomore Mitch Black, are ready to carry the momentum from their strong outdoor campaigns.

Wallis and Black had All-American performances in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 800-meter finals, respectively. Both were competing in their first-ever NCAA championship track appearances. In the end, Wallis finished seventh with a time of 9:07.72. Black also took seventh with a time of 1:51.92 after qualifying at ninth place. 

On Saturday the men’s track team will compete once more, putting their fall semester and off-season training to the test.

“I, along with the rest of the guys on the team, kept the success of last year on our minds and the goals of this year as we stayed on our normal routines of mileage and strength training,” junior distance runner, Joe Poupard, said.

Both distance runners and sprinters kept to their routines, but distance runners may have found it a little easier to train than sprinters. 

“It’s tough for the sprinters and field event guys because they don’t have the luxury of being able to just get out for a road run like the distance squad,” Poupard said. “We’ve got a great group and I know everyone really was able to stay focused despite being away from official practices.”

In order to start strong, the men’s track team also worked hard over the fall semester to maintain its fitness level.

“The first meet is always an exciting one for the team,” sophomore sprinter Alexander Kasemir said. “The freshmen are nervous for their first meet, and the rest of the team is giddy to get back to racing our hearts out. We have been training all of first semester with intense captains’ practices, and recently coach’s practices have started up.”

However, for the team’s training to pay off, it will need to compete cohesively, rather than just as individuals in order to reach their goal of repeating as NESCAC champions come springtime. 

“The team is going to come together as an entire squad,” Kasemir said. “We will rally and cheer for all our teammates in all of the events. This year’s team is really focused on taking on the season together — not as individual runners, but as a powerful unit. This year, our main goal is to repeat being NESCAC champions at the end.”

The team has also stressed the importance of staying healthy to stay at the top of the NESCAC.

“We want to stay as healthy as possible for the entire year,” sophomore sprinter and jumper Bryson Hoover-Hankerson said. “That is a huge goal. Another goal is to knock off the rust and start strong as we get going for the season. For the season, a major goal would be to send a few teammates to nationals and continue strong into outdoor [competition].”

Last season’s successful showing at the NCAA Championships incentivizes Tufts’ athletes to work hard as the men’s track team hopes to follow the success of last season’s athletes who returned as All-Americans.

“It does a lot for the teammates following in their footsteps,” Hoover-Hankerson said. “It helps us continue to believe in the great program [that] the members before us set up. It also gives us a lot of beneficial pressure. We are all competitive and we want to keep the traditions of success alive.”

This Saturday, the men’s track team will look to compete in their first event of the regular season, hoping to regain the form the form that took them all the way to the NESCAC Championships.

“We have the capabilities and skill. We just need to do it,” Kasemir said. 

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