The Gantcher Center was in constant motion on Saturday, teeming with over 700 athletes in a variety of school colors competing at the third and final Tufts Invitational of the season.
The results from the third segment of the team's home meet were very similar to the first two, as the Jumbos once again eked out a home victory, scoring 157 points to pull past UMass-Lowell (153) and take first in the 19-team field.
The close meet was a good primer for the New England Div. III Championships, which will take place in two week at Tufts and will include over 25 teams. Every point will be pivotal if the Jumbos plan to unseat the Williams Ephs, who have won the last three titles.
"I feel like the team is really ready," sophomore Kaleigh Fitzpatrick said. "Everyone's been working so hard. It comes down to toughness."
Fitzpatrick played a key role in the Jumbo win, winning the 400 meter run and contributing points in both the long jump and triple jump. Fitzpatrick's 400 time of 59.39 qualified her for the All-New England Championships.
"I haven't run an open [non-relay] 400 in college; I've just been doing the shorter stuff," she said. "It was fun, though."
Freshmen Jackie Ferry and Aubrey Wasser both turned in good performances. Ferry was right behind Fitzpatrick in the 400, taking fourth in 1:00.76, while Wasser took fifth in the 200 (27.43). Senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom added a victory in the 600 in a time of 1:38.27. Juniors Maggie Clary and Kate Makai also contributed points in the event, taking sixth (1:42.34) and seventh (1:42.87) respectively.
Sophomore Catherine Beck continued to impress, winning the 3,000 yesterday in 10:03.57, setting a new personal record and qualifying for All-New Englands. Once again, she inscribed her name in the record books with the second-fastest time in school history in the 3k.
This is the third week in a row that Beck has set or challenged Tufts records; she set a new Tufts record in the 5,000 last week and ran the third-fastest time in Tufts history in the mile two weeks ago.
Senior Arielle Aaronson joined Beck with a personal record, taking second place in the 3,000 (10:37.73). She held off Ithaca freshman Lindsay Nadolski and Wellesley senior Tracy Bassett, beating both by barely a second.
"Cat continues to run excellent races and Arielle ran a really smart race," senior tri-captain Becca Ades said.
Ades and sophomore Laura Walls had strong races in the 1,000. Ades finished fourth (3:07.17) while Walls took second place and qualified for All-New Englands (3:02.71).
"Laura Walls is a very strong runner because she knows how to pace races well and she has a good kick," Ades said.
Sophomore Katy O'Brien also qualified for All-New Englands by winning the 800 in 2:19.31, very close to the NCAA provisional qualifying time of 2:18.00. Junior Sarah Crispin added a win in the mile in 5:09.66 and freshman Katie Rizzolo and junior Jenny Torpey contributed points in the 5,000 meters, taking seventh (19:08.74) and eighth (19:09.85) respectively.
Tufts recorded victories in two out of the three relays on the day, winning the 4x400 and 4x800 relays. Crispin joined Makai, Bloom, and Ferry in the 4x400 relay in 4:04.39 and Walls and O'Brien teamed with freshman Evelyn Sharkey and sophomore Anna Shih to win the 4x800 (9:36.47).
The field events matched the team's success in the races, as freshman Paula Dorman once again set a personal record in the shot put, taking third with a throw of 38'10.5", adding a foot to her throw last week. Classmate Katrine Dermody finished fourth in the pole vault, clearing 9'01" and qualifying for Div. III New Englands.
Sophomore Joyce Uang finished second in the high jump, jumping 5'03.75" and Fitzpatrick and sophomore Jenna Weir were once again forces in the jumps. Fitzpatrick took third (34'10.25") and Weir took eighth (33'06.75") in the triple jump. The long jump was the last event of the day, and the duo combined for a crucial 12 points, as Weir took second (16'05.75") and Fitzpatrick finished fifth (16'00.25").
This week will be an important one for the team as it prepares for the St. Valentine's Invitational at Boston University. The meet will be crucial for qualifying relays and individuals for the NCAA Championships. The team will likely run a 4x400 and a Distance Medley Relay, both of which qualified for nationals last season at this meet.
Coach Kristen Morwick will have the luxury of depth when she submits her entries for the meet. Between Beck, Crispin, O'Brien, Walls, Makai, Ades, Shih and Sharkey, Morwick should have no trouble compiling a competitive DMR team. The same can be said for the 4x400, which has Bloom, Fitzpatrick, Uang, Ferry, and Wasser ready to run.
"We definitely have a bunch of girls who are capable of running under [1:00 in the 400] so it's good to have all that depth," Fitzpatrick said. "Everyone worked so hard in the preseason that we can really rely on everyone now."