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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, June 14, 2024

Women's Track and Field | Being on top is a familiar feeling for Jumbos

Saturday marked another invitational and another first place finish for the women's track and field team. The Jumbos' 192 points (a 76-point margin of victory over second place Ithaca) were more than enough to give Tufts its third straight invitational win.

"We graduated a lot of key people and lost a few more this year due to injury and personal reasons, so we weren't really sure what to expect," senior Jess Colby said of the team's success. "But everyone on the team has really stepped it up and is making an impact."

Colby and fellow senior Katie Antle took third (11.06 meters) and fourth (10.65), respectively, in the shot put and Colby took third in the weight throw (12.97). Freshman Sarah Martin won the weight throw (13.38), joining the rest of the class of 2008 as key contributors to the team's success.

"With the new freshmen, we're all able to work together and push each other a lot more," Colby said. "It's great knowing that the throws will still be covered after we graduate."

In the sprints, sophomore Jillian Warner took first in both the 200 meters (26.56 seconds) and the 400 (1:00.23). Both times were personal bests for her.

"I feel like I'm finally getting into good shape for this season, which is perfect timing since the large invitational meets are coming up soon," Warner said. "It feels great to perform well with the big meet coming up on Saturday, and hopefully I can continue to do well without injury"

"She's handling a lot more work in practice this year, she never complains, and is always the first to volunteer for an event or relay," coach Kristen Morwick said. "Whatever the team needs, she is willing to do."

Senior Claudia Clarke placed fourth in the 400 (1:00.65). Freshman Kaleigh Fitzpatrick added to a great season by contributing 26 points and placing second in the 55 meter dash (7.62). Working together in the 600, sophomores Kate Makai (1:42.04) and Maggie Clary (1:43.20) placed third and fourth.

Freshmen Laura Walls (4:47.17) and Catherine Beck (4:47.21) turned in phenomenal performances in the 1,500, placing first and second, with freshman Katy O'Brien (4:57.61) overcoming a case of bronchitis to finish sixth.

Walls' and Beck's times were fast enough for both to qualify for the All-New England Championships at the end of February. For Walls, it's her third qualifying time for the All-New England's. Her times in the 1,000 (2:59.80 on Jan. 15) and the 800 (2:19.38 on Jan. 29) also qualify for the event, meaning she will face Div. I competition in all three races.

Walls attributes her strong season to her teammates sophomore Sarah Crispin, senior Katie Sheedy and freshman Anna Shih.

"We all take the Tuesday and Thursday workouts seriously and want to work hardest on those days to improve our times," Walls said. "It's great to be around them on those physically taxing days because we all share the same mentality. And when we line up together on race days, the mentality continues."

Beck also ran the 1,000, placing fourth (3:09.22), in front of teammates Shih (5th - 3:11.17) and freshman Marisa Mann (6th - 3:12.21). Sheedy's 2:21.82 put her in second place in the 800, with junior Daniela Fairchild taking fifth (2:27.07).

Sophomore Raquel Morgan continued her comeback with a second place finish (18:18.34) in the 5,000. Morgan let Ithaca's Payson Warlick maintain the pace and stuck on her shoulder the whole race, losing by only two seconds. Her time was fast enough to qualify her for All-New England, a remarkable feat for her first 5k.

Fitzpatrick's points came mainly from the long jump and the triple jump. Fitzpatrick took first in the long jump, hitting 5.07 meters, and second in the triple (10.72) with freshman Jenna Weir taking third (10.66).

Crispin competed in the 1,500 but did not finish the race. She has health issues and her return to the team this year is questionable. Junior Rachel Bloom and senior Ayako Sawanobori were sick with the flu and did not compete on Saturday.

The Jumbos will compete this weekend at the St. Valentine's Invitational at Boston University and will also host the Tufts Stampede. The Invitational provides an excellent opportunity to qualify relays for nationals because of BU's banked track. The Jumbos will enter a Distance Medley Relay team (1200 - O'Brien, 400 - Bloom, 800 - Sheedy, 1600 - Walls) and a 4x400 relay team (Bloom, Warner, Fitzpatrick, Clarke). Beck will also compete in the 5,000.

The prevailing story this season has been the freshmen, who have stepped up to lead the team. Between Walls, Shih, Beck, O'Brien, Fitzpatrick, Jenna Weir, Sarah Martin, Mann and the list continues, the Jumbos are in great shape for years to come.

"They've come into the season with such a great attitude and pushed themselves very hard at practice," Warner said. "The girls contribute a lot in terms of scoring points during the meets. This team wouldn't be what it is without them."

"[We] have a lot of enthusiasm because it is our first year of college indoor, so everything is exciting and new," Walls added. "The sophomores and upperclassmen are much more seasoned and know how to run the big races. We balance each other very well, I think, and that's why we've been scoring a lot of points on Saturdays."