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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Women's Track and Field | Fast times at Boston U. for Tufts runners

The women's track team spent the weekend looking to wrap up the regular season on a high note. Members of the team traveled to the Valentine Invitational at Boston University on Friday and Saturday and came back with one relay team qualified provisionally for the NCAA Championships and another that was very close.

The women's distance medley relay team of senior Katie Sheedy, junior Rachel Bloom and freshmen Katy O'Brien and Laura Walls finished third (12:09.99), well under the NCAA provisional qualifying time of 12:18.80 for a banked 200 meter track.

Tufts ran into some tough competition from Amherst and Colgate. Despite O'Brien's strong 3:41 1200-leg, Bloom, Walls, and Sheedy all found themselves racing alone. Amherst won the race in 11:53.03 with Colgate in second at 12:04.91.

"We all run better when the race is closer, so hopefully at [the All-New England Championships] in two weeks we'll be able to improve our time with better racing conditions," Sheedy said. "We know we can all get our times down another few seconds, so that will improve the total time."

Bloom ran 59.4 on the 400 leg, Sheedy hit 2:21 in the 800, and Walls anchored in a 5:08. To ensure a spot at the NCAA Championships, the team would ideally want to hit the automatic qualifying time of 11:50.10, yet that may be beyond its reach. But if they can shave off a few more seconds, the Jumbos may not find themselves very far down the list.

In the 4x400 relay, the Jumbos very narrowly missed the NCAA provisional time. The team ran a 4:00.60, less than half a second over the 4:00.20 qualifying mark. Senior Claudia Clarke led off in 1:00.40, followed by Bloom in 1:00.60, freshman Kaleigh Fitzpatrick in 1:00.30, and sophomore Jillian Warner in 59.0. However, the foursome will have other chances to qualify in the weeks ahead.

Individual races took place on Friday as well. Freshman Catherine Beck ran her first ever 5,000 on a track and finished in 17:54.08, narrowly missing the provisional time of 17:52.50. Although inexperienced, Beck still managed to finish 13th among a very competitive field that included Division I athletes and professionally sponsored runners.

"I talked things over with Coach before the race and she was really supportive of me trying to go under 18 minutes," Beck said. "We decided I'd just try to run as many 43 second splits as possible. It really helped having everyone at the track during the race, counting laps and telling me my splits."

Coach Kristen Morwick agreed.

"We were shooting for 17:55 so she pretty much did what we hoped," she said. "I thought she ran a great race. It was awesome."

Sophomore Raquel Morgan ran the 3,000 in 10:33.80, finishing 27th. Fitzpatrick also competed in the long jump hitting a personal best and finishing in 12th with a jump of 5.28 meters, despite having only three jumps because of the heavy competition. However, she pulled out of the triple jump.

"She tweaked her knee a little bit so we pulled her out of the triple jump knowing we wanted her to run the 4x400," Morwick said.

While the relay teams raced on the other side of the Charles River at Boston University, the rest of the Jumbos ran at the Tufts Stampede. The meet was a chance to rest some people for next weekend's New England Div. III Championships, and a last chance for others to try and qualify for the meet.

Senior Ayako Sawanobori and freshman Joyce Uang both qualified for next Div. III's in the 400 dash, finishing second (1:02.72) and seventh (1:04.08) respectively. Unfortunately, freshman Marisa Pierce's 2.62 jump in the pole vault was not enough to qualify for her next weekend, narrowly missing the height of 2.77 meters.

"Pierce just missed it in the pole vault," Morwick said. "She's improving quite a bit every week. Every week she gets a better height so it's too bad she didn't make the height."

Freshman Anna Shih and sophomore Kate Makai took first (2:22.36) and second (2:23.32), respectively, in the 1,000. Sophomore Jenny Torpey took fifth in the 3,000 meters with a time of 11:07.38. Few women competed on Saturday, and many events had no Jumbo on the track.

In the field, freshman Jenna Weir finished first in both the long jump (4.95) and triple jump (10.88) with sophomore Mackenzie Rawcliffe taking second in the long jump (4.93). Uang took third in the high jump, clearing 1.53m. Freshman Sarah Martin took third in the weight throw, setting a new personal best of 13.69 with senior Jess Colby taking fourth (13.25m). Colby also took fifth in the shot put (10.76m), tying teammate and fellow senior Katie Antle.

The excitement of the day came out in the 4x400 relay. The team of sophomores Maggie Clary, Rawcliffe, Shih and junior Daniela Fairchild took first, beating out Middlebury by literally a nose. Fairchild topped Middlebury's Allison Williams, a senior, by .03 seconds.

Fairchild got the baton with a small lead because of a good handoff and held a one-stride lead over Williams throughout the first lap. Coming into the final straightaway on the second and final lap, however, things tightened up.

"I was thinking that she's going to either take two steps and outkick me or I'm going to dive," Fairchild said. "I got her by a shoulder."

Fairchild, Clary and Rawcliffe will be competing in the pentathlon this weekend, and will have to make up for the loss of junior Megan Sears to injury. All three have spent the last few weeks polishing their performance specifically for this weekend's event.

"A lot of teams don't focus on it much, so hopefully we can pick up some points," Fairchild said.