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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Men’s track and field proves resilient at Division III Indoor National Championships

A small, but strong contingent of the Tufts men’s track and field team placed 31st in the nation on Friday and Saturday at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track National Championships. The five athletes that competed at the meet were junior Alex Lemiuex, sophomore Harry Rienecker-Found, senior Ben Stein, junior Drew Svoboda and sophomore Luke Botsford. 

Stein completed the heptathlon over the course of the two days, with his highlight performance being a second-place finish in the 1000-meter with a time of 2:47.17. Some of his other strong performances included finishing 10th in the long jump at 20’9” (6.32 m) and 12th in the pole vault with a jump of 12’9.5” (3.90 m). Overall, Stein captured 15th place in the heptathlon, and he performed despite some nagging injuries he was dealing with, earning the respect of his teammates.

“[Stein] was nursing through an ankle injury the whole meet,” Rienecker-Found said. “Special credit to him for being able to put in 100% effort and still placing the way he did. I think that was a testament to his grit and determination. I think he said he would have pulled out … but his parents came to watch, so he kept going through, which I think is very impressive.”

Rienecker-Found secured fifth place in the nation with 6’8” (2.03 m) being his highest jump out of all three of his attempts. Although he can jump higher, given his personal best of 6’9” (2.06 m) two weeks ago at the New England Division III Championships, sticking to the basics is what made him successful this past weekend.

“It’s more about consistency in terms of not having failures at lower heights,” Rienecker-Found said. “I think if you jump well at the lower heights and have a clean card through the three jumps, then you put yourself in a very good position to be up at the top.”

Rienecker-Found had been consistently practicing his jumps throughout the season, not trying to jump too high but instead making sure that he got the jumps he was used to down pat. He preaches technique and repeatability over height in jumping.

“If you get to the meet and do the things you’ve been doing for the last eight weeks,” Rienecker-Found said. “9 times out of 10, you’ll be fine and score pretty high.”

In the running events, junior Alex Lemiuex finished sixth in the nation in the 200-meter dash at 22.01 seconds. He also finished ninth in the 60-meter dash prelims with a time of 6.85 seconds, just a hundredth of a second off the personal best he achieved two weeks ago.

With their showings, Lemieux and Rienecker-Found not only scored 3 and 3.5 points respectively for the Jumbos, but they also both earned All-American honors for their performances throughout the season. They make up part of a prestigious nationwide group of several hundred Division III track and field athletes who received the honor this year.

Botsford finished with a time of 50.64 seconds in the 400-meter prelims, good for 17th at the meet. Svoboda participated in the long jump, jumping 22’3.5” (6.79 m), and achieved 15th place in the event.

Overall, the atmosphere at this meet was very different from other meets due to the national stage and the quality of the competition.

“You feel like you’re surrounded by a lot of elite performers,” Rienecker-Found said. “It’s easy to feel out of place. I find [it] motivating because you think, ‘Now I’ve got to show up just to be on par with these kids.’”

Although the Jumbos could have caved under the pressure, they not only performed well but ended up taking up a valuable learning lesson from the experience.

“Multiple people on the team said that they went into the meet feeling like they didn’t belong there and they didn’t deserve to be at that level, but they left the meet thinking they were just as good as the other athletes,” Rienecker-Found said. “This extends to people who didn’t go to nationals as well. They can get up there and compete with the best in [Division] III.”

This meet ended the men’s indoor track season, and on Saturday, the Jumbos will kick off their outdoor season at the Ross and Sharon Irwin Invite at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.