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

Tufts earns another spring victory

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Senior Joe Poupard placed ninth in the 3000-meter steeplechase this past weekend.

Riding the momentum from last week’s dominant performance, the men’s track and field team once again placed first in its meet this weekend at Conn. College’s two-day Silfen Invitational. Tufts won with a score of 188, finishing 57 points ahead of runner-up Worcester State. 

As the regular season winds down, many team members are still aiming to qualify for postseason meets.

“For each event, practice is sort of different,” junior Veer Bhalla said. “We have some guys who’ve been looking to peak at the regular season meets to qualify for postseason meets. This is the last week of the regular season, but we still have people who will be looking for some last-minute qualifications. We’re prepared for anything that gets thrown at us, but I know people are going to be looking to earn a spot in the postseason.”

After winning the 1,500 meters last week, junior Mitchell Black was able to finish first in both the 400-meter dash and the 1500-meter run at Conn. College. Black, the national champion in the indoor 800, ran the 400-meter dash in 49.60 and the 1,500 in 3:56:82. His 1500-meter time places him at No. 14 in the nation.

Black was not the only Jumbo to perform well in the 400; he was closely followed by Bhalla (50.46), senior Alex Sheltzer (50.82) and junior Alex Kasemir (50.99) in second, fourth and sixth respectively.

For Bhalla, this event was particularly important because it was a crucial step in his recovery process.

“I’d been nursing an injury for two weeks so I hadn’t been running much, which is frustrating for me,” Bhalla said. “But the doctor finally said I could run, so I entered the event to see what I could do. I ran the 1,500, and it was sort of brutal, but it was nice to get back out there, and I think I came back strong in the 400.”

Also finishing first in his event was first-year Andrew DiMaiti, who ran the 400-meter hurdles in 55.80 seconds.

In the 5000-meter run, sophomore Tim Nichols finished in second with a time of 14:45:58, moving up to No. 15 in the national rankings.Also improving on his national ranking was classmate Nick Usoff, who finished as the runner-up in the javelin throw with his 190’ launch, bumping his national ranking up to No. 16 in the country.

On the track, sophomore Luke O’Connor finished second in the 3000-meter steeplechase, clocking in at 9:40:03 after only a week of practice on the hurdles.On the field, Tufts also had runner-up finishes from first-year Stefan Duvivier in the high jump (6’ 4”) and senior co-captain Brian Williamson in the hammer throw (144’ 1”).

“I felt good about my performance,” O’Connor said. “I really hadn’t been over the barriers until that Tuesday in practice, and even then I was a little bit shaky over the hurdles. I distinctly remember a couple times in the race I was thinking I’m not going to hit it because if I do, I’m going down hard.”

The weather has made this season especially tricky for the Jumbos, and this weekend was no exception. Friday was a cool, hazy evening, perfect for the distance events, but Saturday was once again filled with the very same wind that had been making certain events difficult for the Jumbos all season long.

“I think in regards to how bad the weather has been, the guys have been pretty good about not letting it get to them, both in their own events and as a team," O’Connor said. "It’s a long day, but everyone’s always cheering each other on in these poor conditions and show[ing] our support.”

Next week is the last meet of the regular season, and for many on the team, the last chance to qualify for postseason meets. The Jumbos will split up, with some team members heading to Princeton, N.J. for the Larry Ellis Invitational, and the rest staying in the state to compete at the UMASS Lowell Invitational. Tufts looks to carry on its run of strong performances in anticipation of the postseason and the NESCAC Championships.