Times at the Bowdoin Invitational were so fast on Saturday that they set off the fire alarm at the Farley Field House. Actually, it was a squirrel that set off the fire alarm and caused a three-hour delay at the meet.
In any event, the Jumbos hosed down their competition, scoring 176 points to wiggle by Bowdoin (172.5) and take first out of five team field.
Topping a list of strong showings, sophomore Katy O'Brien won the mile (5:12.88), took second in the 800 (2:21.67), and ran a strong 400 meter-leg (1:01) in the Distance Medley Relay (DMR).
"We basically needed to win the 4x400 relay and beat Bowdoin in the DMR to win the meet," coach Kristen Morwick said. "So we put that pressure on some of our top kids and they responded well."
Tufts' 4x400 foursome of sophomores Kaleigh Fitzpatrick and Joyce Uang and freshmen Aubrey Wasser and Jackie Ferry took first place in 4:06.77, beating second-place Bowdoin by six seconds. The DMR team of O'Brien, juniors Kate Makai and Sarah Crispin, and freshman Evelyn Sharkey took second in 12:50.14. The 18 combined points gave Tufts the victory.
The women's 5k, the first event of the day, was stopped in the middle of the race when the building's fire alarm went off. Apparently a squirrel was responsible for blowing a transformer, and when the power came back on, there was a surge that caused some motors in the equipment room to catch fire. The room filled with smoke and the building was evacuated.
For close to three hours, the teams waited on the nearby field hockey field while the fire department cleaned up and tested for carbon monoxide. The fire alarm also came on in the middle of the high jump, triple jump, pole vault, and weight throw.
Senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom was not surprised that the problem came at Bowdoin, where Tufts athletes have often run into logistical problems.
"The officials are ancient," Bloom said. "It's always at a snail's pace. They literally have to pause the meet to have somebody cross the track, so of course there would be a fire alarm."
After returning to the track, the Jumbos finished what they started. Fitzpatrick, an All-American last year, won the 200 in 26.56 with Uang taking third in 27.83. Senior Becca Ades won the 3,000 by more than 20 seconds, running a 10:26.94 and narrowly missing the qualifying time of 10:26.24 for the New England Championships, while Crispin was right behind O'Brien in the 800, finishing third (2:21.78).
Freshmen made their mark on the day, as Ferry, Wasser, Sharkey, Katie Rizzolo and Paula Dorman all contributed points. In addition to their role in the 4x400 relay, Ferry took first in the 600 (1:41.42) and Wasser finished second in the 400 (1:02.08). Rizzolo was awarded third in the 5,000 that was cut short.
Sharkey finished third in the 1,000 (3:07.99) in addition to running on the DMR team and Dorman, after improving her personal best in the shot put by over four feet last week, improved upon that mark again by seven inches to nab second place (37'10.5").
The Jumbos grabbed the top two spots in the triple jump, as sophomores Jenna Weir and Kaleigh Fitzpatrick took first (34'10.5") and second (34'8.25"), respectively. Weir, who missed the NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 36'8.25" in the triple jump last season by eight inches, also took first in the long jump (16'6.5").
"We didn't strategize to win," Morwick said of the meet. "We were just letting people do what they wanted and needed to do for post season marks. When the meet was on the line, people stepped up and got it done."
While their teammates were getting it done in Maine, back in Boston, senior Rachel Bloom and sophomores Laura Walls and Catherine Beck competed at the Terrier Classic at Boston University.
After provisionally qualifying for Nationals with her 5:00.61 mile last week at the Tufts Invite II, third-best in Tufts history, Beck refused to slow down. She narrowly missed automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships last week, and came close again this week.
Beck added a solid performance in the 5k, taking 13th in a crowded field at BU on Saturday, running 17:09.18. Her time narrowly missed the 17:08.00 required to automatically qualify her for the NCAA Championships for a 5k on a banked track, but was enough to break the Tufts school record of 17:10.5, set in 1999 by Cindy Manning.
"Between the added training, her involvement in her training, her mental toughness and most importantly, her willingness to listen and be coached, she is performing beyond expectations," Morwick said.
Bloom toed the line in the 400, but ended up fighting for position in her heat, which cost her at the end. The first lap went through in 26 seconds, much too fast for a 400, and the pack slowed down from there. Bloom, who has run as fast as 57.0 in the event, took 34th in 1:01.88.
"Everybody boxed each other in and slowed down and I had to stutter step and it was so messy," Bloom said. "Everybody was on top of each other and stumbling - not an ideal situation."
Walls finished 23rd in the mile with a time of 5:09.74.