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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Cross country program shows depth, strength at four-race Conn. College Invitational

Dual victories in the White race and fast times in Blue races provide Tufts with confidence ahead of NESCAC champs.

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Sophomore Quinn Hampson is pictured at the Bates Invitational on Sept. 17.

The Tufts cross country program had a successful weekend at the Connecticut College Invitational, which started on Saturday. The team provided strong performances in all four races at the invitational, with the men’s team finishing second overall and the women’s team finishing ninth in the more competitively seeded Blue races. The program showed its depth by handily winning the White races across both gender divisions.

The Blue race provided an opportunity for the top eight runners from each of the 26 entered teams to compete, with remaining runners competing in the White race to ensure that the field was not too crowded.

Falling only to St. Olaf College, the second place finish for the men’s team in the Blue race was an important confidence boost as the team approaches the end of their season. The Jumbos secured victory over their NESCAC competitors, providing a reference point heading into the NESCAC championships on Oct. 28.

“We really were striving to beat Amherst College and Middlebury. We’re going to be seeing them again at the NESCAC championships in a few weeks, so we wanted to gain some confidence heading into that,” sophomore Quinn Hampson wrote in an email to the Daily.

Middlebury was in striking distance in fourth place overall with Amherst in a more distant 11th place.

The success came with a change in race strategy. The team had experimented with a conservative start during their race at the Pre-Nationals invitational. Hampson indicated that team members were not pleased with the overall result and instead decided to focus on consistent effort throughout this weekend’s race.

There were a lot of fast teams that we needed to beat so we wanted to focus on keeping the gas on at all times,” Hampson wrote.

Junior Ivan Appleton finished in fourth place overall with a time of 24:30.8, a collegiate 8K personal best. Senior Walter Wagude also made the top ten, running 24:46.2 for ninth place.

Personal records were even more abundant in the White race, with the first seven Tufts runners all achieving their best times in the 8K. Senior Ryan Proulx won the race with a time of 25:33.5 with teammate junior Martin Horne finishing in second place at 25:46.9. 

The team was very excited about the finish, which represented an improvement from last year’s iteration of the invitational.

I remember collapsing across the finish line having no idea how we did, and just hearing one of my teammates yelling ecstatically at me that we did what we set out to do, and more,” Hampson wrote. “It’s really cool to see our improvement from last year, especially this exact meet last year, on the same course.”

On the women’s side, the Blue race was another opportunity to test a new race strategy. First-year Sophia Carpenter said the team was focusing on running in a group and going out stronger than in previous races.

Our goal was to go out there and work together and use what we’ve been practicing in our workouts in the race,” Carpenter said.

Tufts’ scoring runners finished between 47th and 60th place, showing the team broadly succeeded in staying together during the race. Junior Carly Rinko led the squad with 22:40.7 for the 6K.

Carpenter thought the race was a good showing, but not all the team was hoping for.

I definitely think that we all put in our best effort on Saturday,” Carpenter said. “I think our expectations were to get out a little bit faster than we ended up going out.”

The 6K White race produced a strong grouping of Tufts runners, with all scoring runners in the top 22. In ninth place with a time of 23:48.5, sophomore Jaclyn Turner led the Jumbos with first-year teammate Katya Henisz close behind in 23:52.3 for 10th. Senior Rose Kitz clinched 13th with sophomore Julia Dolce in 15th; both Kitz and Dolce ran career-best times.

Tufts hopes to take this momentum into their next competition, NESCAC Championships, on Oct. 28 at Amherst College.