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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Women's Track and Field | Jumbos defend Gantcher with second-place finish at Tufts Invite

With almost the entire team finally back in action after winter break, the women's track and field team captured second place at the Tufts Invitational, the first home meet of the season. Tufts earned 186 points, trailing only Div. II UMass Lowell's 236-point effort.

With several runners sitting out this meet to stay fresh for the Terrier Invitational at Boston University this weekend, an altered lineup of Jumbos took the floor at the Gantcher Center. Senior Kaleigh Fitzpatrick ran the 55-meter dash for the first time since her sophomore year, and classmate Ana Hoyos ran the 800 meters, her first race in the event since high school.

This year's indoor team has about 20 freshmen, making up nearly half the team. With all of these inexperienced runners, coach Kristen Morwick said it is "kind of an ordeal to get through the first few meets."

She listed a few rookie mistakes, including not checking into a race on time and dropping the baton in relays, but overall was pleased with the team's second-place finish.

"This is not a bad start," Morwick said. "We have a lot of talent this year. We're going to be even better than last year."

Despite a few jitters, the freshmen showed off their skills in this meet, with many breaking personal records. Distance runner Stephanie McNamara, coming off a stellar cross country season, nabbed a second-place finish in the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:36.97.

"It was awesome being at home and running on the track that we train on," McNamara said. "Everyone was excited to be back and really motivated for this meet."

McNamara's success on the track was backed up by teammates in the field, where freshmen Sarah Nolet (pentathlon) and Allison Fechter (pole vault) both won their events. Classmate Kanku Kabongo placed second in the triple jump with a distance of 10.14 meters, just short of the 10.23-meter jump that earned her sixth place at the Dartmouth Relays on Jan. 13.

Thanks in part to the younger members stepping up, the Jumbos won six events and placed in the top five in all but three of the 20 events.

Sophomore Logan Crane had a strenuous but rewarding day, competing in four events. Crane won the 55-meter dash and was second in both the 200 meters and the long jump.

"Logan had an awesome day," Morwick said. "She is already way ahead of where she was last year. She's going to be dominant."

In distance running, junior Veronica Jackson dominated the 5,000 meters with a time of 19:29.96, almost three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. In the mile, senior Katy O'Brien, freshman Amy Wilfert and junior Amy Hopkins placed second, third and fourth, respectively.

The Jumbos performed well in all field events, with wins in the pentathlon and the pole vault and second-place finishes in the weight throw and all three jumps. In addition to Kabongo's second-place finish in the triple jump, senior Joyce Uang placed second in the high jump (1.55 meters) and Crane matched her success on the track with a second-place finish in the long jump (5.08 meters).

A pair of freshmen also netted the first wins of their college careers. Pole vaulter Allison Fechter took first with a jump of 3.04 meters, far outstripping her 2.76-meter jump at the Dartmouth Relays two weeks ago. Classmate Sarah Nolet won the pentathlon with 2,973 points.

"For her to come in and run her first pentathlon and then win, it is just great," Morwick said of Nolet.

The weight throwers took four out of the top six spots. Senior Sarah Martin finished second with a throw of 13.62 meters, only 34 centimeters behind RPI freshman Connor Ahlborn.