A year ago, men’s track and field suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Tufts at the NESCAC Championship. After a grueling meet full of ups and downs, the final score was 169.33 to 164 and the Ephs were forced to watch in dismay as the Jumbos took a victory lap around the College’s track. But the team’s disappointment also became a source of motivation, and since last year, the men have trained hard with the goal of recapturing the NESCAC title.
Last Saturday, the Ephs achieved that goal, edging out the Jumbos for the championship win with a final score of 207 to 182. Middlebury came in third, with 122 points. This was the Ephs’ first NESCAC title since 2011.
Co-captain Nolan Raimo ’16 shook off his first three long jumps and launched himself 6.92 meters, a personal best. Liam Pembroke ’18 and Lloyd Campbell ’18 had strong showings in the discus. Pembroke secured fifth and Campbell nearly matched his seed mark. Meanwhile, co-captain Bijan Mazaheri ’16 won the 10K in 30:55.72 after running away from the field in a 4:45 last mile.
Pierceson Brown ’18 put forth a valiant effort in the pole vault. He finished second with 4.55 meters after just missing the bar at his personal-best height of 4.70 meters.
Raimo came back to compete in his third event, the high jump, with a few other teammates. They were led by Ian Kagame ’19, who set a personal best of 1.93 meters to take second. James Heinl ’19 showcased his best javelin throwing of the season, finishing third with a personal best 57.22 meter throw. Heinl also competed in the hammer throw, taking fourth with a personal best throw of 48.48 meters.
Manny Daring ’16 edged out two Tufts competitors who beat his seed time. He set a personal best in the 400 meter with a time of 48.88 seconds.
Katakyie Ofori-Atta ’16 and Connor Harris ’18 returned for the 100 meter final. Although Ofori-Atta had been seeded first, a competitor beat his seed time. Ofori-Atta achieved victory by 0.02 seconds. His final time was 10.82 seconds.
Despite all of the personal bests of the day so far, the Ephs still trailed Tufts. Alex Cowen ’18 ran a breakthrough 800 meter race to set a personal best time of 1:52.28, taking sixth. The team was excited about Cowen’s time, nearly a three second personal best, but the team had also conceded 18 points to the 1-2 punch of Tufts runners in the event.
Behind the shot putters and the 400-meter hurdlers, the Ephs started to turn the momentum in their direction. On his final throw, Campbell threw a personal best and rose to second place with a 14.67-meter throw. Meanwhile, Raimo and Dunham rocketed to first and second, respectively, in the 400-meter hurdles. Both men set personal bests, with Raimo finishing in 53.56 seconds and Dunham finishing in 53.94 seconds.
The Ephs continued to succeed in the 200 meter. Ofori-Atta returned to the track to just barely defeat a competitor from Trinity for his NESCAC title of the day. He won by 0.01 seconds, finishing with a time of 21.86 seconds, a personal best.
Mazaheri came back after running the 10K to complete the difficult 10K/5K double. He started off at an aggressive pace and was joined by teammate Colin Cotton ’17. The duo passed every runner in the lead pack one by one until, in the end, the two were battling it out on the final lap. Ultimately, Mazaheri took home his second NESCAC title of the day, winning the race in 14:41.45. Cotton finished second in a time of 14:45.59, and together the duo scored 18 points for the Ephs. The Ephs got a total of 21 points from the event.
“It takes a well rounded and deep team to score 200+ points at NESCACs,” Head Coach Ethan Barron said. “In 2015, Williams won nine events and finished with 164. This year we only won five events, but scored 207 points. We were a full, balanced squad this year.”
The squad next competes at the Div. III New England Chapionships this weekend. New England powerhouse MIT will join Tufts in battling the Ephs for victory at the meet.