The last chance for some Jumbos came and went on Friday. Tufts looked to qualify a few more competitors for the NCAA Championships next week and solidify holds on other national bids. The day had its shares of ups and downs.
"Ultimately that meet wasn't ideal. You're on a bus for three plus hours in traffic and you're running at times that you're not used to running at," coach Kristen Morwick said.
The meet at Yale took place late Friday night, with some races not starting until 10:30 p.m. Yale has a banked four-lane track, which is uncharacteristically steep. Sophomore Sarah Crispin fell off the track after her 800 leg in the distance medley relay.
The 4x400 meter relay team of senior Claudia Clarke, junior Rachel Bloom, sophomore Jillian Warner, and freshman Kaleigh Fitzpatrick shuffled its order, but could not achieve the same success it has had this year. Last weekend at the All-New England Championships, the team raced to a 3:55.28.
On Friday, however, with a new order, the team ran 3:57.35, finishing second to Lincoln University, a team the Jumbos will certainly see next weekend. Fitzpatrick led off with a slow split of 60 seconds.
"She got sucked out way too fast with the Lincoln kids," Morwick said. "We took a little chance and it didn't work out so we'll go back to the old order."
Bloom ran her fastest indoor split for the 400, with a 57.4. Warner and Clarke both had similar times to Bloom. Currently, Tufts holds the eighth seed in the 4x400 relay and will travel on Wednesday to Illinois Wesleyan for Nationals.
To warm up for their 400s, Warner and Bloom both raced in the open 200. Warner took fourth (26.09) with Bloom right behind her in fifth (26.40). Both ran their fastest times of the season, with Warner setting a new personal record for indoor.
After a great weekend last week in running events in which two relays set new school records, the Jumbos excelled in the field this week. Senior tri-captain Jess Colby took fourth in the weight throw with a personal best 13.90 meters. The throw broke the Tufts school record.
"I feel like the throwers sometimes are overlooked a lot because they're maybe not as exciting or obvious as the running events. They've been working really hard," senior tri-captain Katie Sheedy said. "I was really happy for her to end her college career indoor with that performance."
Her freshman teammate, Sarah Martin, took sixth with 13.66. Colby also took twelfth in the shot put with 10.78. Sophomore Sade Campbell took seventh in the high jump with 1.54 meters.
Freshman Jenna Weir qualified provisionally for Nationals in the triple jump on Friday with her jump of 11.30 meters, surpassing the qualifying mark of 11.18. The mark was a vast improvement of her previous best of 10.98 and puts her 18th on the performance list for nationals. However, only 16 women competed last season in the triple jump at Nationals last year. Weir also jumped a personal best of 5.17 meters in the long jump to take third.
"She had a great series," Morwick said. "It'll be tough. Two or three people would have to not declare for her to make it."
Sophomores Raquel Morgan and Kenzie Rawcliffe were both looking for their best times of the season in hopes of getting trips to Nationals. Rawcliffe needed 8.60 seconds or better in the 55 meter hurdles to qualify provisionally, but failed to make the finals in the event, running 9.00.
Morgan, who already qualified provisionally for nationals in the 5,000 meter run, needed a faster time to improve her place on the performance list, which is now 22nd. She had a rough day, however, running an 18:35.57, 40 seconds off of the provisional qualifying time.
"I think she's just had a couple weeks of high stress and it's tough banging out a 5k every week," Morwick said. "She doesn't like running on the banked track because of her calves. The pace was really slow. The top seed dropped out and after that everyone just fell apart."
Tufts fielded a different distance medley relay (DMR) team for the Last Chance Invitational, since they already have qualified for nationals and currently occupy seventh on the performance list. The team of senior Ayako Sawanobori, Crispin, and freshmen Catherine Beck and Katy O'Brien placed second, running 12:08.59 and becoming the second Tufts DMR team to qualify for Nationals.
"That was pretty sweet. Everyone ran really well," Beck said. "Personally I wasn't too thrilled with my time because I feel like I forgot how to run shorter distances."
Despite her modesty, Beck anchored the team with a 5:08 mile. Crispin led off with a 3:38 1,200, with Sawanobori running the 400 leg in 61 seconds and O'Brien running a 2:17.5 800 leg. While the Jumbos can only field one team in the event, the accomplishment of qualifying two teams for Nationals in the same event demonstrates the depth of this team. Crispin will compete in the 800 next week at nationals while Beck will compete in the 5,000. O'Brien will run the 1,200 leg of the DMR at Nationals.
"We are going to have great DMRs forever because our middle distance is so strong," Sheedy said. "We could probably throw in another team. I don't think many teams could do that."
Sheedy took second in the 600, running 1:40.55. Her teammates, junior Daniela Fairchild and sophomore Maggie Clary, took sixth (1:41.97) and eighth (1:43.67), respectively. Sheedy will run the 800 leg of the DMR at nationals next weekend.
Tufts looked to qualify more runners for Nationals in the 800 and entered freshmen Laura Walls and Anna Shih and sophomore Kate Makai in the event. Walls, who will run the mile in the DMR next week, finished eighth in 2:19.57. Makai finished twelfth in 2:21.67 and Shih took seventeenth in 2:25.35. The women needed 2:17.70 to qualify for nationals.
All that's left now for the Jumbos are a few workouts before the plane ride out to Illinois Wesleyan for the NCAA Championships. Members of the team will leave Wednesday for the weekend meet.
"We have a couple things this week to do to tune up," Sheedy said "We'll probably practice handoffs and do some 200s and then get on a plane."