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Women's Track | Jumbos dominate first meet of season

Eight individual wins highlight day, personal records abound

Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 08:12

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Virginia Bledsoe / The Tufts Daily

Throwing jumping events were a particular source of strength for the women’s track and field team.


The women’s track and field team’s seven wins and numerous personal records set the tone for the indoor season at its first meet, the UMass Boston Indoor Invitational. Though there was no team scoring and only half the squad competed, those who ran, jumped and threw at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center on Saturday had an impressive showing.

Had the meet included scoring, coach Kristen Morwick said Tufts would have won easily.

“We had victories in a wide variety of events, which proves that the team is going to be really deep across the board,” junior Grace House said. “I think it definitely signals good things to come for the rest of the season.”

In their first−ever collegiate meet, the much−hyped freshmen accounted for three of the Jumbos’ victories. Freshman Hanako Shigenobu notched a first−place win in the 800−meter run with a time of 2:23:32, and her classmate Emily Smithwick won the pole vault, clearing a height of 10 feet and reaching fourth on the Tufts indoor record list.

Meanwhile, freshman Leah Potter came in first in the high jump with a jump of 5−feet, 2.25−inches, and first−year Paige Roberts cleared the same height, but in more attempts, to tie for second.

“I think that it’s a really good way to start the season, and it definitely makes me a lot more confident about my future performances,” Potter said.

Freshman Alexis Harrison placed second and broke the indoor school record in the 60−meter dash, topping Logan Crane’s (LA ’10) five−year−old record with a time of 7.97 seconds.

“She ran faster than Logan Crane, who was probably one of the best sprinters we’ve ever had at Tufts,” Morwick said. “It was pretty cool for her to break Logan’s record so early on.”

Meanwhile, the Tufts throwers continued to surpass all their competitors. In the weight throw, seniors Kelly Allen and Ronke Oyekunle, sophomore Grace Demyan and junior Robin Armstrong swept places one through four, with the latter three achieving personal indoor bests.

Allen also took first in the shot put with a toss of 41−feet, 7.25−inches, and Oyekunle threw 41−feet, 6−inches for second. Oyekunle’s personal record shot put heave was also good enough for fourth on the indoor honor roll. Her weight throw claimed third on the list.

The upperclassmen also succeeded on the track. House won the 1,000−meter race with a time of 3:11.11, a personal best and her first individual victory as a college student.

“I ran at this meet last year, and I ran a 3:22, so it was a really great improvement for me,” she said. “I’ve been working really hard, especially in cross country, to build up my mileage, and I think it’s been paying off.”

Senior Toby Crispin outpaced the field in the mile by a good ten seconds, reaching a time of 5:21.05. The 4x400−meter relay team, made up of junior Colleen Flanagan, freshman Marilyn Allen and seniors Alyssa Corrigan and Samantha Bissonnette, also won with a time of 4:08.71.

Despite the impressive performances of much of the team, Morwick said that other Jumbos could have fared better and will improve by continuing to train physically and mentally.

“In some of the events, people were a little tentative for the longer sprints and they didn’t push as hard as they could have,” she said. “There is a fatigue factor because we’ve been working really hard, and we haven’t backed off at all. I think in general, the upperclassmen especially need to trust themselves a little more.”

Even the victorious athletes are not feeling complacent about their wins. Potter still plans to train and lift weights over winter break to beat her personal high school record, a 5−feet, 4−inches jump that was nearly two inches higher than her result on Saturday.

“I need to start working on being more powerful in my jumps,” she said. “I have good technique over the bar, but my coach is trying to get the last three steps of my run−up faster.”

The Jumbos originally planned to attend the Jay Carisella Invitational hosted by Northeastern University, but after the location and competing teams were changed, the team decided to stick to racing at the UMass−Boston event. The Jay Carisella Invitational would have featured stronger Div. I opponents compared to the mix of Div. I, Div. II and Div. III teams in years past.

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