It looked like any other NESCAC meet, as the women's track team found itself in the shadow of league titan Williams once again - this time at Saturday's NESCAC Championships, held at Middlebury.
Powered by junior Maddy Outman, who placed in four individual and two relay events, the Ephs scored 201 points to take home their seventh-consecutive NESCAC title. The host Panthers trailed with 147.5 points while the Jumbos took third, tallying 102. Bowdoin and Amherst rounded out the top five.
Although Tufts churned out a solid performance, Saturday brought no surprises.
"The competition was pretty much exactly what we expected," senior Jessica Mactas said. "We thought maybe we'd have a few more surprise performances and be able to beat Middlebury, but they came out really strong, and we couldn't beat them in the end."
"With the injuries and the setbacks we've had this season, we sort of went in looking to do the best we could and have everyone have a good day," senior tri-captain Sarah Crispin said. "But I don't think we were as focused on the competition as we have been at other meets."
For another weekend, juniors Cat Beck and Kaleigh Fitzpatrick led the way for the Jumbos. Beck posted one of two first-place finishes for the Jumbos on the day, winning the 1,500 meters in 4:35.28 to edge Amherst senior Shauneen Garrahan, who checked in at 4:35.84. Beck's time surpassed the NCAA provisional qualifying standard and secured her second conference championship in as many years.
Fitzpatrick took second place in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes, clocking finishes of 26.15 and 59.04 seconds, respectively. She also anchored the 4x100 relay team, which nabbed first to bring Tufts its second top finish on the day.
"[Beck and Fitzpatrick] are both key members of the team," Crispin said. "They're awesome people and great teammates, and they work very hard. We're lucky that we have them there."
Freshmen Logan Crane and Andrea Ferri joined Fitzpatrick and Mactas in the 4x100 meter relay to edge the Ephs by a quarter of a second. Despite early handoff trouble, Outman and three teammates, senior Caroline Doctor and juniors Carrie Plitt and Halley Smith, couldn't catch the Jumbo squad, which posted a clip of 49.36 seconds.
"We had a little bit of a problem with our first handoff, so that kind of slowed us down a little," Mactas said. "But everyone on the relay ran really great, so we were able to still win that event as we were hoping to."
Junior Joyce Uang in the high jump and the 4x800 meter relay team were among the team's other solid performers, both taking second-place finishes.
"We hoped to maximize people's performance in all their events so we could score as well as possible," Mactas said. "We all knew we'd have to have a great day to beat everyone, so I think everyone tried as hard as they possibly could."
Although two of Tufts' supreme runners, Crispin and junior Katy O'Brien, have both staged comebacks from injury over the past two weeks, time spent on the sidelines this season kept them from racing to their full potential.
"I can only run a limited number of days a week, so I'm not able to train the same way I was in indoor," Crispin said. "I had to take a lot of time off, so I'm sort of coming back slowly. Every week, I get a little stronger, but I'm definitely not where I would have been had I not been injured."
Next on the calendar for the Jumbos is this weekend's New England Div. III Championships. Though the Jumbos expect a strong showing, they are prepared to butt heads with stiff NESCAC competition once again.
"NESCACs is really a team meet that we go for, but New Englands is also really important," Mactas said. "Everyone will probably try and do the events that they're best at and try and score as high as possible and qualify through for later meets."