Tufts’ men’s and women’s track and field teams began the indoor track season admirably at the Sharon Colyear-Danville meet, hosted by Boston University on a banked track on Saturday, Dec. 4.
The men’s team had record-breaking results, with junior Alex Lemieux finishing the 60-meter dash in 6.86 seconds. He broke the previous school record of 6.95 set by Blake Coolidge in 2017. Sophomore Luke Botsford placed third out of 35 in the 300-meter event with a time of 33.88 seconds.
The women’s team competed in many of the events, including the mile, 3K, 5K and 1K. In the mile event, senior co-captain Hannah Neilon did the mile in 5:08.73, the fastest for the Jumbos, and placed seventh out of 31. Junior Sarah Sandlow competed in the 5K with a time of 19:31.83. Senior co-captain Anna Slager finished the 3K in 10:01.87, the best finish for the Jumbos and 28th out of 53 overall.
“It was my first time running a 3K indoors. ... I had horrible pacing, went out too fast because I felt fine at first, ... it caught up with me and I had competition at the very end,” Slager said. “It was a learning experience.”
Slager’s feelings of getting back into the sport are not singular, however. “[The meet] was a rest-buster, because the last time we ran indoor track was right before COVID, and everybody was just getting their spikes back on again and getting into the sport,” she said.
There are at least seven different groups competing within indoor track. These include throwing, jumping, pole vaulting, hurdling, sprinting and distance and middle distance running. Indoor track is unique in that for many athletes, it is merely a buffer between the cross country and track seasons. For others, it is the warm up to the track season. And for a third group, it serves as off-season training for mostly cross country athletes. Slager shed light on the kinds of athletes participating in the various events.
“Kids are recruited as 400-meter hurdlers, and that is what they do and they are excellent. ... They are very good at their specific events," Slager said. "We also have athletes who transition from what they were recruited for. It depends on the season. ... Some people have more versatility than others.”
The season also began at a time right before the holidays, which brings about concerns regarding athletes staying in shape and motivated over the break. Furthermore, due to different athletes’ sporting commitments, some have varying rest times that don’t match up with the rest of the team.
“Everybody is on a bit of a different timeline,” Slager said. “Our coach works with everyone almost on an individual basis to create a training plan for the holiday break.”
However, coming off a cross country season with a lot of issues regarding conditions, some athletes are breathing a sigh of relief to be indoors where weather cannot affect their performance. Others, though, miss the fresh air of the outdoors from cross country. While the season won’t pick up until January, Slager and the other captains have many goals set for the team.
“We always have the goal of creating a cohesive team that supports each other," she said. "We have a big team on the roster for track. ... We’re focusing on making everybody feel included and valued and trying to get as much feedback, for us as captains and to the coaches, to make it a challenging but also welcoming space."
The indoor track season will continue on Jan. 15, with the Jumbos hosting the Tufts Invitational at the Gantcher Center.