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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, May 27, 2024

Tufts track and field descends on Virginia Beach for the NCAA Division III Championships

The Jumbos pulled off multiple top 10 finishes, with strong performances all around.

Noah Turner_6.jpg

Junior Noah Turner is pictured during the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invitational on Feb. 10.

Editor’s note: Sarah Firth is a staff writer and features editor at the Daily. Firth was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.

Eight Tufts track athletes — seven men and one woman — competed at the NCAA Division III Championships on Friday and Saturday after qualifying for the meet earlier in the season. The Jumbos held their own against a selective group of talent.

Junior pole vaulter Sarah Firth narrowly missed the All-American title and added another stand-out performance to her impressive and consistent indoor season. Firth placed 11th out of 19 participants, vaulting 3.77 meters during her third indoor championship and fifth collegiate track championship. Sixth through 10th place all notched scores of 3.77 meters, with the tiebreaker prioritizing those who scored higher in earlier attempts. Firth earned her highest score on her third attempt, while to make All-American she would have needed to make this height on her first attempt. The top eight finishers earn All-American honors.

Firth was the sole member of the women’s team at the championships, revealing the intense competition and selectivity of the meet.

Unfortunately, I was the only woman, but there were a lot of people who were really close to making it but got booted out last week and missed it by a few spots,” Firth said. “Usually, we have more women than men go.”

Firth then proceeded to remark on the spring season to come.

I tend to like indoor track better than outdoor track, just because there’s no wind, there’s no hot weather, there’s no cold weather. … It’s just better in every way, at least for my event,” Firth said.

Yet, despite the more difficult conditions under which pole vaulters compete during the spring, historically, Firth has done quite well.

The one other time I made All-American was in outdoor track. So, I’m in a good place, I think, going into the outdoor season,” she added.

Firth also described the mentality and energy Tufts brings to the NCAA Championships.

“I always love going to nationals, because obviously you’re competing, and that’s the top priority, but also, especially on the way there, everyone’s in a great mood, and they’re joking around, and you get a lot of personal time that you don’t get in the bigger team environment,” Firth said.

On the championship environment itself, Firth recounted the positive, competitive environment during her warmup, which took place while the throws were going on.

The throws are always fun, but usually they’re a little more chill. But the crowd for the throws was so hype. … I’ve never heard a crowd so loud,“ Firth said. ”While we were warming up, every two minutes, there’d be an explosion from the corner … so it was very entertaining.”

While wishing she had accumulated another All-American title last weekend, Firth is optimistic for success to come. 

“It's hard when it’s so close; you feel like ‘Oh, I’m almost there! I could’ve done it!’ I went into this meet hoping I could get All-American and thinking realistically I could do it if I kept it together. And I did keep it together, but it was just slightly not enough,” Firth said. ”But going into outdoor, I’m excited and I’m in a good place.”

Pivoting to the men’s team, the Jumbos notched multiple top 10 finishes. In the 200-meter, senior Luke Botsford placed 10th with a time of 21.74. Meanwhile, in the 4x400 relay, Botsford, first-year Neil Chowdhury, junior Noah Turner and graduate student Alex Lemieux placed ninth with a time of 3:15.93. While the relay team fell short of their hopes to make it to the finals, they still ended up earning the title of the top team in New England. Graduate student Carter Rosewell scored an additional 10th place finish in the heptathlon with 4,875 points. 

Junior Ivan Appleton’s time of 14:42.68 in the 5000-meter earned him 20th place. According to Firth, in Appleton’s race, a mistake was made where he was told that he only had eight laps to go when he really had 10. Despite this mistake, Appleton adjusted quickly and had a strong race.

Finally, senior Harry Rienecker-Found earned ninth place in the high jump with 1.99 meters. Rienecker-Found just barely missed earning All-American honors, unable to clear 2.04 meters.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s men’s and Loras College’s women’s indoor track teams notched first place in the competition. While Loras College maintained its first-place status over both Friday and Saturday with a final team score of 51, Wisconsin-La Crosse came back from fourth on Friday to finish with 74 points.

With the indoor championships behind them, the eight athletes who competed last weekend have a quick turnaround as training for the spring season kicks off over break, when the men’s and women's teams travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C.