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

Women's Track and Field | Warm weather means fast times for track team

The women's track team finally got a taste of spring weather on Saturday, and the improved conditions showed in the performances at the George Davis Invitational at UMass-Lowell.

The weather was finally nice enough to give the Tufts distance runners conditions favorable to qualifying times, and the Jumbos responded with four ECAC qualifications in the 1,500 meters. Sophomore Katy O'Brien took first place by almost three seconds with a time of 4:45.65, qualifying for ECACs and missing the qualifying time for All-New Englands by just .4 seconds.

Junior Sarah Crispin took third in 4:49.31, and senior tri-captain Becca Ades and freshman Evelyn Sharkey came in seventh (4:53.48) and eighth (4:54.70), respectively.

"Just seeing them all in practice, there's really no question that they're strong and out to do some damage," sophomore Catherine Beck said. "It's really exciting that we have so much depth in that event. Getting so many people qualified speaks well for later this season."

Beck ran the 3,000 on Saturday,

staying in the lead pack until the final 100 meters, when she out-sprinted Williams sophomore Mallory Harlin to win the event in 10:00.26. Beck, who ran 9:54.57 in the same event during the indoor season, remained conservative during the race and held back until the end.

"The weather was so different from what we ran in the past couple of weeks that I definitely wanted to err on the side of caution," Beck said. "The heat definitely made it a more challenging race."

Also in the distance events, senior Arielle Aaronson took fourth in the 5,000 meters, running 19:40.30. She was followed by junior Jenny Torpey in sixth (20:32.77).

Tufts triumphed over NESCAC rival Williams in the 4x400 relay, with freshman Jackie Ferry nipping Williams' anchor senior Katie Howard by .88 seconds to give the Jumbos first place.

Coach Kristen Morwick put together the team's top relay for the showdown with the Ephs, and the team of Ferry, O'Brien, senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom and sophomore Joyce Uang came through, easily qualifying for ECACs with their time of 4:00.23.

It was O'Brien's first time on the 4x400 relay team, but the sophomore split 59.7 in the "class relays" two weeks ago at the Snowflake Classic and will likely contend for a spot on the top relay team in the remainder of the season. The 4x400 relay team went to Nationals during the indoor season with Bloom, Uang, Ferry and sophomore Kaleigh Fitzpatrick, and the addition of O'Brien gives the Jumbos another dimension.

"Right now we don't have a choice [about putting O'Brien on the relay]," Morwick said. "She would certainly be one of the top considerations."

In the 4x100 relay race, the team of Bloom, Uang, Fitzpatrick and sophomore Jenna Weir took third on Saturday in 50.80, qualifying them for ECACs. The second Tufts team of junior Jess Mactas, sophomore Erica Steinitz and freshmen Halsey Stebbins and Aubrey Wasser was right behind the top team, running 51.70 for sixth place.

Morwick will likely switch her team around again this weekend to get the best squad out there before NESCACs.

"If our 'B' team can run almost as fast as our 'A' team, why not give those athletes - and they're not 'B' athletes - an opportunity to be a top scorer at NESCACs? So that's what we'll do," Morwick said. "Those quote-unquote 'B' kids have had better handoffs. Give them [Bloom] and that could be the difference."

The Jumbos also hit a handful of postseason qualifying times in the 400 meters. Fitzpatrick's fourth-place finish in 58.83 seconds was the fastest of the season by a Jumbo in the 400, and it qualified her for All-New Englands. Fitzpatrick also qualified for Div. III's in the triple jump on Saturday, taking fifth place with a jump of 34:07.50.

Ferry took fifth and qualified for ECACs with her time of 1:00.20. Uang finished eighth and qualified for Div. IIIs in 1:01.84, and senior tri-captain Megan Sears and Steinitz both qualified for NESCACs with 11th (1:03.02) and 14th place (1:03.72) finishes, respectively.

Freshman Kathleen Rutecki turned in the fastest time of the season for the Jumbos in the 400 intermediate hurdles, running 1:08.50 to take sixth place and qualify for Div. IIIs in only her second turn at the event.

In the field events, sophomore Sarah Martin's throw of 137-00 in the hammer was enough for second place and a spot at ECACs. Freshman Paula Dormon took sixth with a throw of 101-05. In the shot put, Dormon took fourth with a throw of 38-10, while Martin finished 10th, throwing 35-01 and qualifying for NESCACs.

As the Jumbos head into their fourth regular-season meet, they have a number of individuals qualified for NESCACs, the first championship meet in a five-week span of them. The team has at least seven runners qualified in the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 and has an entry in every event but the discus. Morwick will look to this weekend's Dartmouth Invitational as an opportunity to speed up seed times heading into NESCACs.

"There are some people that [still] need to qualify, so that will obviously be their priority," Morwick said. "Beyond that it should be a pretty low-key weekend."

This weekend is an opportunity to rest some runners in the final week before the postseason. The five-week postseason of NESCACs, Div. IIIs, All-New Englands, ECACs and Nationals is enough to tire out most athletes.

"Spring track is tough - there's no way around that [schedule]," Beck said. "You've just got to draw on reserves even when it feels like nothing else is there. It stretches you both physically and mentally."