The women's track and field team posted some stellar finishes at the Bernard Solomon Invitational held at Northeastern on Saturday. Like all their regular-season invitationals, the Jumbos used this non-scoring meet to focus on individual goals.
"Track is very different from most other sports in that your season record doesn't really count; it's just about the championships," senior co-captain Cat Beck said. "The purpose of these smaller meets is just to prepare ourselves and get as many people qualified for nationals. Our focus hasn't changed much from week to week."
These types of meets also allow runners to try their hand - or legs - at different events. Outdoor track has the shortest regular season of any Tufts sport,
lasting only about one month, so competitors don't have much time to figure out which events to focus on and coaches don't have much time to find a winning postseason formula.
"In indoor, you have time to try a lot more events without worrying about hitting a time," freshman Stephanie McNamara said. "There aren't as many invitationals in outdoor; it goes by really fast, so you have to go out and try and focus on a race early in the season. It's nerve-wracking."
The warmer temperatures and clear skies offered a near-ideal backdrop for Tufts' successful showing at Northeastern. The Jumbos swept all three relays: the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800. The 4x400 'A' team of sophomore Logan Crane, senior co-captain Kaleigh Fitzpatrick, senior Katy O'Brien and Beck clocked in at 4:08.00, obliterating the five other teams in the event. The next closest competitor, Holy Cross, finished more than 10 seconds behind the Jumbos.
Crane also won the 200-meter dash, where she came within striking distance of her second Tufts record this season. Her time of 25.92 is about 1.5 seconds off of Vera Stenhouse's (LA '91) current record, set in 1990, which Crane hopes to break.
The sophomore already broke Stenhouse's longstanding record in the 55-meter dash last season. Three other Jumbos - junior Aubrey Wasser, senior Erica Steinitz and junior Halsey Stebbins - also finished in the top 10 in the event.
Crane enjoyed another top finish in the long jump, leaping 5.18 meters to win the event. Senior Jenna Weir followed in third place with a jump of 4.78 meters.
In other sprinting events, Fitzpatrick hustled to second place in the 400-meter dash, finishing just under a minute with a time of 58.97 seconds. Freshman Andrea Caruth was right behind her, finishing in third place in 1:00.28 seconds.
The Jumbos enjoyed a 1-2 finish in the 800 meters, where Beck and O'Brien finished with times of 2:11.52 and 2:15.08 respectively, marking a personal record for Beck. The co-captain also eyes taking the track to run the 5,000-meter run again this season, an event in which she holds the school record.
McNamara ran in the 5k on Saturday and earned second place with a time of 18:04.82. This race was an adjustment for the freshman, who normally sticks to mid-distance races.
"I went into it conservatively," she said. "I ended up catching up to the leader, and we battled for the win at the end, but over the course of the race I wish I had been a little closer [to her]. I probably could have done better because I was running comfortably."
McNamara is hoping to set a personal record in the 1,500-meter run before the end of the season.
"I'm focusing on the [1,500 meters] because in indoor I did the mile [1,600 meters] a lot," she said. "Right now, I'm about 20 seconds from the provisional NCAA time, which in these longer races isn't so hard to cut down. We'll have to see in the next two weeks."
Coming off of an injury, junior Katie Rizzolo competed in her first meet back on Saturday, which happened to be her birthday. Rizzolo ran in the 10k and finished fifth in a time of 42:23.16.
More Jumbos found themselves entered in the 3,000-meter steeplechase this weekend, including junior Veronica Jackson, who came in fifth place, sophomore Lisa Picascia and junior Kate Charyk.
"Lisa was being real aggressive over the water barriers," Beck said. "Hopefully they'll get another opportunity so they'll be more comfortable in the event."
Although the postseason is already lurking just around the corner, there is still a lot up in the air about placement and qualifications in the big meets.
"Nationals is five weeks after the regular season, so it's hard to know who's going to be where by then," Beck said. "At this point we don't have a setup for the postseason."
After another invitational at MIT next week and the Penn Relays following that, the squad is looking ahead to NESCACs. The Jumbos hope this season will finally bring Tufts a first place finish in the conference championship.
"We had a lot of success in indoor season and we hope to bring it to outdoor season, too," Beck said.