The Tufts women's track and field team began the championship season strongly at Colby College on Saturday, scoring 126.5 points and finishing second out of 11 teams.
Coach Kristen Morwick rejoined the team after a two-week absence due to health reasons, and her presence paid off as the Jumbos dominated in several events.
"The NESCAC championship is our biggest team-oriented meet," junior Rachel Bloom said. "We have people participating in four or five events. Everyone puts in everything they have so by the end, it's hard to fight the exhaustion."
But the team was able to finish strong, grabbing first place in the final two events of the day with the standout performances of the relay teams. The 4x800 relay team blew away the nearest competition, beating Bowdoin by nearly 10 seconds. Freshmen Anna Shih and Catherine Beck, sophomore Kate Makai and senior tri-captain Katie Sheedy put up an impressive time of 9:26.04 to earn the top spot and 10 points for Tufts.
The 4x400 team finished first, just ahead of Williams, who won the meet with 211 points overall. The foursome of junior Rachel Bloom, senior Ayako Sawanobori and sophomores MacKenzie Rawcliffe and Sarah Crispin, came in with a time of 4:05.75. The 4x400 has been a strong one for Tufts this season, as Bloom, senior Claudia Clarke, sophomore Jillian Warner, and freshman Kaleigh Fitzpatrick earned All-American status in the event at Nationals in March.
"The 4x400 and 4x800 were the last two events of the meet," Bloom said. "By the end it was pouring rain and everyone was tired and cold. It really means a lot to the team to have been able to pull off wins in both events especially considering the weather conditions."
The 4x100 relay put up a third place finish earning six points for the team. Bloom, sophomore Jessica Mactas, freshman Kaleigh Fitzpatrick, senior Ayako Sawanobori and finished in 50.17, less than a second behind first-place Williams and second-place Colby.
Tufts nabbed two of the top three spots in the 1500 race, with Crispin coming in first with 4:45.60, undercutting her seed time by nearly four seconds, and freshman Catherine Beck taking third with a time of 4:47.04.
In individual results, senior thrower Jessica Gauthier nailed a third-place finish in the discus with a distance of 40.60 meters. Gauthier also had a solid placing in the shot put gaining seventh place with a distance of 11.49 meters. In the javelin throw, freshman Cecilia Allende grabbed fourth place and five points for the team with a toss of 31.08 meters.
Bloom finished second in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes, less than a second behind Williams junior Katie Fulton, who took first in both events. Fitzpatrick took fourth in both events, part of an impressive day that yielded top-five finishes in four individual events, including a fifth place finish in the long jump and fourth place in the triple jump.
Rawcliffe had several top finishes as well, taking third in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.37. She also managed a fifth place finish in the triple jump with a distance of 10.56 meters, just behind teammate Fitzpatrick, who landed at 10.75.
Freshman steeplechase runner Katy O'Brien continued her streak of good finishes with a fifth place finish on Saturday with a time of 11:46.60.
In the high jump, Tufts jumpers managed a three-way tie for fifth place. Senior Sika Henry and sophomore Sade Campbell shared fifth place with Jen Orbaker from Hamilton College with distances of 1.55 meters.
In the end, Williams took the day with its fifth straight NESCAC championship, and 13th in 20 years, but Tufts finished strongly in second. The nearest competitor, Middlebury College landed at distant third with 98 points. The Jumbos look to continue their success during the New England Div. III Championships to be held at Bates next weekend.
"From here on, the meets become more individual," Bloom said. "It is still team-oriented but the emphasis is more on the individual getting a qualifying time for nationals."