The Snowflake Classic is traditionally a low-key affair for the track team, allowing runners to ease back into the competitive season and shake the rust off in their season opener.
Apparently somebody forgot to tell the women's team.
While the team may have only taken third out of the 16 teams (122 points) in the event, which took place on Saturday here at Tufts, individual runners were in top form.
Sophomore Catherine Beck, who spent the indoor season setting two new school records and slashing her times, continued her domination on Saturday, taking first in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:39.05. She beat the next closest competitor, teammate Sarah Crispin, by 15 seconds (4:54.50) and recorded the second-fastest 1,500 time in Tufts history. Crispin, a junior, earned her second-place finish the hard way, overtaking two Dartmouth runners down the stretch.
Sophomore Katy O'Brien similarly held court in the 800, taking a huge lead in the first lap en route to a first-place time of 2:15.41, nine seconds ahead of the runner-up.
Both Beck's and O'Brien's times qualify them provisionally for Nationals, and may earn them another trip to NCAA's after falling short of expectations at Indoor Nationals on Mar. 10-11.
"They didn't race their best races at [Indoor] Nationals but it's not a comment on their fitness," coach Kristen Morwick said. "They're certainly capable. Both of them ran really relaxed and both of them ran their own races, and sometimes that's when it happens."
With the pair lighting up the track so early in the season, it seems there is nowhere to go but up.
"It's nice to see people do good things really early," senior tri-captain Becca Ades said. "I'm happy for [Beck and O'Brien], but I think they can definitely improve and I think this is a great starting point."
Ades turned in a strong performance of her own, taking sixth in the 800 (2:30.50) and qualifying for All-New England's in the 3,000 steeplechase with an 11:30.01 second-place finish, despite falling during the second lap. Ades, who was studying abroad during the 2005 outdoor season, ran the event for the first time since a Nationals appearance at the end of her sophomore year.
"It was a good start," Ades said of her time. "I think it can definitely get a lot faster. I'd like to hit the [National] automatic qualifying standard. I'm hoping to run faster than I did in my sophomore year and I think that's realistic."
Joining Ades in the steeplechase, freshmen Evelyn Sharkey and Susan Allegretti also took fifth (4:59.28) and seventh (5:05.13), respectively. Senior Arielle Aaronson ran the 10,000 meters for the first time, winning the event in 41:24.24 and qualifying for ECACs.
Sprinters also saw strong returns despite battling a headwind down the final straightaway. Freshmen Jackie Ferry and Aubrey Wasser took seventh (27.87) and eighth (28.07), respectively, in the 200, and sophomore Kaleigh Fitzpatrick added a seventh-place finish in the 100 in 13.51. Senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom took third in the 400 (59.45) against tough competition from Brandeis and Div. I Boston University
In the field, sophomore Joyce Uang hit a personal outdoor best in the high jump (5'1.75"). Freshman Paula Dormon finished third in the shot put, throwing 38'10.25", and ninth in the hammer with a throw of 114'02.75".
The team earned points from the pole vault as well, as freshman Katrine Dermody took eighth with a jump of 8'6", fifth all-time at Tufts. Senior tri-captain Megan Sears took fifth for the Jumbos in the javelin (103'09.25") with sophomore Cecilia Allende following in eighth (99'06.5").
The Jumbos welcomed the return of sophomore Jenna Weir, whose indoor season was cut short with a separated shoulder. She made her presence known, winning the triple jump with a leap of 35'04.25". Fitzpatrick finished a few spots behind her in fourth (34'01").
"They both actually looked quite good," Morwick said. "It's different jumping outdoors. When the weather's nice, it's alright, but when the wind is different every time you get on the runway, sometimes it puts you behind and sometimes it helps you out."
Sophomore Laura Walls also returned to the track on Saturday after an indoor season-ending illness, taking twelfth in the 1,500 (5:11.56).
"I know it tired [Walls] out, but I think she just wanted to get into a race and run it and finish and not worry about the time," Morwick said.
Morwick spread her sprinters into two 4x100 relays, both of which finished in the top five. Bloom, Weir, Fitzpatrick and sophomore Erica Steinitz took third in 50.53 and junior Jess Mactas, Wasser and freshmen Halsey Stebbins and Jennifer Johnson teamed up for fifth (52.44).
"We haven't really done a whole lot of handoff work," Morwick said. "We've got a few sprinters to work with so it's just about finding the right combinations. [The relays] went well, considering the amount of work we've done and the freshmen we threw in without having done a whole lot of work."
Tufts also put together four teams in the 4x400 for the traditional "class relays," which pit four members of each class against each other. The freshmen came out on top, with Wasser, Stebbins, Rutecki and Ferry narrowly holding off the sophomore team of Beck, O'Brien, Uang and Anna Shih. The sophomores owned the two fastest split times, with O'Brien splitting 59.7 and Beck splitting 61.2, but Ferry's 60.5 split kept the first-years on top.