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

Women's Track and Field | Jumbos works out kinks, win at Tufts Invite II

Things were looking a little grim for the women's track team after last weekend's performances at the Tufts Invitational I. The team had good individual performances, but coach Kristen Morwick characterized the team's overall look as "rusty."

"We actually stepped it up this weekend from last weekend," senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom said. "Last weekend was kind of shaky, and we were a little worried, but this weekend people did really well."

The women took first in the meet, scoring 163 points and outdistancing Amherst, the next-closest team, by 77 points. In addition to the Lord Jeffs, the Jumbos beat out NESCAC rivals Bates, Colby and Wesleyan in the 16-team field.

Individual highlights underscored a strong team performance, as sophomore Catherine Beck qualified provisionally in the mile for the NCAA championships, finishing first in 5:00.61. Her time was well under the provisional standard of 5:05.20 and was the third-best mile time ever for Tufts women's track.

The performance was even more impressive because Beck is traditionally a long-distance runner, competing at Nationals last season in the 5,000 meters.

"I was shocked," Beck said of her performance. "It just felt like it came out of left field."

Freshman Paula Dorman improved on her personal best in the shot put by four feet, an almost unheard-of improvement over just a single week. She placed third with a throw of 37'3"

"That was incredible, especially as a freshman," Bloom said. "If we work on her form, she could bust out even more."

The throw qualified Dorman for the All-New England Championships at Boston University next month.

Joining Dorman and Beck with standout performances were Bloom and sophomore Kaliegh Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick took first in three events, winning the 55 meter dash (7.54 seconds), the long jump (16'5.75") and the triple jump (34'4.75"). She finished just ahead of classmate Jenna Weir (34'4.25") in the final event. Fitzpatrick's time in the dash places her seventh on the all-time program list.

Bloom took second in her first-ever 500 and qualified for All-New Englands, finishing in 1:19.57. Nonetheless, Bloom said that she felt her novice in the 500, citing difficulty adjusting to the speed of the event.

"That was an interesting experience," Bloom said. "I really didn't know what I was doing. It worked out all right, I guess."

Also in the sprints, freshman Aubrey Wasser and sophomore Erica Steinitz took second (27.38) and fifth (27.98), respectively, in the 200 to score points for the Jumbos. Steinitz also added a fifth-place showing (7.87) in the 55-meter dash. Sophomore Joyce Uang chipped in, taking third in the 400 in a time of 1:02.39.

Junior Sarah Crispin and sophomore Katy O'Brien teamed up in the 1,000, sweeping second and third in the event. Both qualified for All-New Englands with times of 3:02.38 and 3:04.22 respectively. Freshman Susan Allegretti and senior tri-captain Becca Ades followed in the event, taking sixth (3:07.75) and seventh (3:11.93), respectively.

After her record-setting performance in the mile, Beck turned around and ran the 800, taking fourth (2:23.69) behind teammate Laura Walls (2:22.85), who took third. Freshman Jackie Ferry returned to competition this week to take seventh in the event (2:27.25). Also in the distance events, senior Arielle Aaronson finished second in the 5k, running a personal best of 18:33.81.

The well-rounded performance inflated the team's confidence as it tries to accomplish its two goals: the first - sending a large group to Nationals; the second -beating Williams at the Div. III New England Regional Championships. After this weekend's morale-booster, the latter goal seems more within reach.

"People just didn't come back looking that strong in [last weekend's] meet," Bloom said. "This week people showed that that meet was a fluke. We really do have the drive and the talent and the motivation to do it."

This weekend, the team heads north to Brunswick, Maine for a small meet against Bowdoin, MIT, and Springfield. The meet will allow Morwick to try out different runners in different events to find the right combinations for championship meets. But Beck stresses that the ultimate goal for the meet is winning and that the team will not sacrifice a top finish just because they are experimenting.

"We'd like to come out on top at Bowdoin," Beck said. "You can't give anything up and you can't get complacent. You've got to go after it."