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

Women's Track and Field | Track teams brave the conditions in season-opening Snowflake Classic

With its triumphant indoor season now complete, the women's track and field team jumped right into the outdoor season on Saturday.

Battling cold temperatures and icy conditions, the Jumbos came out with a second-place finish at the Snowflake Classic, Tufts' only home meet of the season.

Competing against 12 other teams, many of which were from Div. I, the Jumbos accumulated 139.50 points, just 1.5 more than NESCAC rival Bates. Because the indoor postseason ended just about a week before, the Jumbos had to deal with a very short recovery period.

"[Going into outdoor season] was a lot harder than going from cross country to indoor because between those seasons, we got so much more time, rather than the one week we got for outdoor," freshman Stephanie McNamara said. "I still think my body's recovering."

"For those of us who competed at Nationals, it was a tough turnaround," senior co-captain Cat Beck added. "Our teammates were very fired up and positive for this meet, so that definitely helped out."

The Snowflake Classic was an appropriate name for the meet, as the Jumbos had to deal with wintry and blustery conditions that made it difficult to compete.

Nevertheless, the Jumbos were resilient and came through with some top-notch performances, especially for the first meet of the season.

"Outdoor meets can have wind, snow, hail - everything," Beck said. "I'm impressed with how the team handled the cold. People were able to go out there and do their best even going into the meet knowing that 'Okay, this won't be a fast day.'"

"It's definitely one way to get used to being on an outdoor track," McNamara added. "The wind and cold were ridiculous, but these are the things we're going to have to deal with, so it was a good experience."

Tufts picked up 23 points in the 1,500-meter run thanks to a one-two finish from Beck and McNamara to go along with a fourth-place showing by freshman Amy Wilfert.

"I thought the 1,500 was going to be really weird because we start on the back stretch where the 300 starts, but it was actually fine," McNamara said of the outdoor season adjustment.

Meanwhile, senior Katy O'Brien won the 800-meter race with a time of 2:17.09, while McNamara and Wilfert also tacked on third and sixth-place finishes with times of 2:21.23 and 2:30.74, respectively.

Juniors Susan Allegretti and Veronica Jackson took part in the 5,000-meter race for the first time, with Allegretti scoring points for the Jumbos following an eighth-place finish. Jackson was right behind in 19:29.98, while freshman Tina Milburn ended in 12th place in 20:11.14.

The outdoor season also introduces one of the most challenging races in track: the steeplechase.

During a 3,000-meter run, competitors have to jump over barriers and into a slanted water pit. In the beginning of outdoor season, the cold temperatures make the experience of jumping into the water particularly unpleasant. Junior Kathryn Charyk took on this feat Saturday and earned six points for Tufts, finishing in third place with a time of 13:07.98.

"[The officials] were breaking ice off the water before the race," Beck said. "Kathryn said she couldn't feel her hands afterwards - she definitely took one for the team."

Another event specific to outdoor season is the javelin throw. The freshmen trio of Sarah Nolet, Kanku Kabongo and Kelly Engelking, along with sophomore Andrea Ferri, all competed in this event and totaled 11 points for the team altogether.

In sprinting events, sophomore Logan Crane and Kabongo competed in the 100-meter dash, earning second place and seventh place with times of 13.09 and 13.83 seconds, respectively.

Kabongo also joined freshman Rosanna Xia in the triple jump. The duo earned 12 points for the team in the event, with a second-place jump of 10.71 meters for Xia and a fifth-place jump of 10.07 meters from Kabongo.

The team ran into some trouble in the 4x100-meter relay, when its A team was disqualified following a botched first exchange. A runner from Fitchburg State bumped into Tufts senior co-captain Kaleigh Fitzpatrick, forcing her out of her lane.

Still, the Jumbos' first outdoor meet was a success, and the team will now look forward to the rest of the season. Next week, Tufts will be competing at Stonehill, and with only four weeks remaining until the postseason gets underway, the Jumbos knows they will have to continue being at the top of its game.

"[The short season] puts a lot of pressure on us," Crane said.