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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, December 9, 2023

Jumbos repeat as NESCAC runners-up for second straight year

The women's 4x100-meter relay team hands off the baton on March 29, 2014. The relay team finished first in the NESCAC championship.

On a windy and cool Saturday, the women's track team traveled to Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. for the 2015 NESCAC Championship. Tufts finished second overall, behind host Williams, for the second year in a row.

The Ephs defeated the Jumbos by a score of 170-148. The two juggernauts kept the score close for most of the meet until the Ephs opened the floodgates in the relay portion of the championship. With the exception of a loss to Tufts in 2013, Williams has won every NESCAC title in the past 15 years, totaling 14 titles in that span of time. 

Junior Alexis Harrison led the scoring onslaught for the Jumbos on the day. She set a big PR in winning the 100-meter dash, running 12.04 seconds to edge out Amherst's Karen Blake. Harrison's time places her at No. 8 in the event nationally, which will qualify her for the NCAA Div. III National Championships in May.Not only did Harrison PR in the 100, but she also PRed by almost a foot in the long jump (18'6.5") to take the decisive victory over Trinity's Jenna Wilborne.This mark ranks her No. 10 nationally and will likely qualify her for nationals. In the 200-meter race, she also set a big PR to come in second to Blake; Harrison ran the event in 25.14 seconds, a time that ranks 22nd nationally. Finally, in the 4x100-meter relay, Harrison anchored the victorious team of senior Christina Harvey, junior Marilyn Allen and sophomore Rita Donohoe with a time of 48.26 seconds.

"I was extremely excited about my performances. I wanted to hit those marks all season and I'm glad it finally came together at NESCACs," Harrison said. "Doing multiple events at last week's meet prepared me for the busy schedule I had at NESCACs, and my training prepared me to be fit enough to produce some great performances."

Allen had a great day as well. In what seems to be the season of PRs for her, she PRed by 0.04 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, running 14.39 seconds for the victory and seventh overall in the national rankings. She was also able to take second in the 400-meter hurdles with another new PR of 1:06.57, a time that places her 22nd nationally.

In other sprint action, Harvey took fourth overall in the 100-meter race in 12.53 seconds, while first-year Annalisa DeBari took sixth in the 100-meter hurdles, setting a PR in 15.05 seconds. Fellow classmate Julia Prusaczyk also set a new PR in the 400-meter hurdles, running 1:06.31 for sixth overall.

In distance, junior Sydney Smith ran an impressive triple. She began the day with a new PR in the 1,500-meter race, running 4:39.87 for fourth overall. She later returned in the 800 meters, taking fourth with a time of 2:15.29. She finally returned in the 4x800-meter relay to lead the team of sophomore Sam Cox, first-year Lena Walton and junior Lauren Gormer to fourth overall in 9:28.60.Gormer also had a solid day: she set a new PR in the 800, taking third overall in 2:14.86. Smith and Gormer have both had phenomenal seasons in their events, and they will be looking to improve their times further as the postseason continues.

Other scorers for Tufts' distance squad include sophomore Lindsay Atkeson's sixth-place, 11:32.71 effort in the 3000-meter steeplechase and first-year Olivia Nicholson's PR effort of 18:08.07 for fifth in the 5,000 meters.

"For both the 1,500 and the 800, I just really focused on racing a smart race," Smith said. "The race plan for the 1,500 was to run a relaxed first half-mile, then start picking it up. I got a little impatient and started my kick a little too early and just didn't have quite enough left on the homestretch, but I'm still very happy with how that race went. In the 800, the coaches and I had discussed just sitting in the back of the pack for the first lap and letting the other racers do a lot of the work for me ... in the hopes that I could save my speed for the last 200. Although it wasn't quite the finish I had hoped for, I definitely took a lot of confidence away knowing that I can double back well with a short amount of rest."

In the field, sophomore Keren Hendel placed second in the pole vault, getting over the bar at 10'11.75".DeBari and fellow first-year Toluwa Akinyemi earned top-six finishes in the triple jump: DeBari took fifth in 35'5", while Akinyemi took sixth in 35'3.25".

The throws squad contributed big points to the Jumbos' scoring effort and were crucial components of their runner-up finish. Sophomore Bailey Conner took the decisive victory in the shot put, throwing the standard 39'6.5" to edge out Bowdoin's Randi London (35'5.25"). First-years Jennifer Sherwill and Rebecca Antwi also scored for Tufts in the shot put, taking sixth (34'10.5") and eighth (34'2.25'), respectively. First-year Amylee Anyoha won the discus throw, launching the standard 125' 9", while Sherwill and Conner finished sixth and seventh in the event respectively. Conner also took third in the hammer throw, heaving the weight 141'2" for a new PR and six points.

Many Jumbos stepped up and scored big, exceeding expectations. One such athlete was Nicholson, who had been seeded just outside of scoring and ended up taking fifth in the 5,000 meters. Her finish made a huge contribution to solidifying Tufts' second-place finish in the NESCACs.

"I am so incredibly proud of this team," Harrison said. "Everyone competed to the best of their ability and multiple people PR'ed or beat their seed time or mark. There was nothing else we could have done. Everyone really wanted the title, and that showed in our performances, but Williams just had a little more depth."

In the coming weeks, a few Jumbos will be competing at postseason meets in order to lower their times, better their marks or compete well at nationals; others will take some time off.

After a runner-up finish the last two seasons, the Jumbos will be coming back hungry for the title -- a goal they will be working toward all year.

"Next year we just have to keep the momentum going and start off how we finished this season," Harrison said. "Some great athletes are returning from abroad, and there is a lot of promise from this year's freshman class. Those aspects, as well as the continued improvement of the current athletes, will put us in a good position to beat Williams next year."