Men’s track and field traveled to Tufts last Saturday for the Tufts National Qualifying Meet. This competitive meet was the last possible day to qualify for the NCAA Championship next weekend. Schools from across the eastern United States were in attendance.
In the first event of the day, the distance medley relay, Peter Kirgis ’20, co-captain Tobias Muellers ’18, Tristan Colaizzi ’20 and Lucas Estrada ’20 attempted to qualify for the NCAA Championship. Only the top 12 relay teams could qualify which, in most years, required a 10:02 finish on a flat track. Kirgis led the Ephs out to a hot start with a 3:04 1200, handing off to Muellers, who ran a 48-second 400. Despite slight illness, Colaizzi put up a strong performance and handed off to Estrada after a 1:55 800 leg. Estrada brought it home, finishing in fifth overall with a 4:13 1600 leg for an overall time of 10:01.61.
In the 5000, co-captain Ben Decker ’18 ran an even race, finishing second in 14:59.13. In the 800, Kevin LaFleche ’20 and co-captain Alex Cowen ’18 both performed well. LaFleche kicked hard over the last lap to finish in 1:53.83. Cowen, meanwhile, shook off a few weeks of interrupted training to run a 1:56.79.
In the 400, co-captain Tommy Riley ’18 ran a 52.50. The decathlete is striving to achieve All-American status in his final season.
The Ephs also performed well in the field events. In the high jump, Ian Kagame ’19 cleared the bar at 1.83m, finishing 10th overall. In the shot put, Liam Pembroke ’18 and Lloyd Campbell ’18 finished eighth and ninth with marks of 13.30m and 13.16m, respectively.
Closing out the day for the Ephs in the 3000, Liam Simpson ’18 had a tremendous race. He kept up with the lead runners through the mile in 4:30 before taking command of the race. Kicking exceptionally well, he earned the victory in a time of 8:19.44.
Because the NCAA Championship will be held on a banked track this year, his result converts to 8:13.70 – the second fastest in the nation this season. For the Ephs, only two-time national champion Peter Hale ’17 has run faster than Simpson on a flat track.
Head coach Ethan Barron was pleased with the team’s results at Saturday’s last chance meet. “With the bad weather, this meet was actually a little low energy,” he said. “The conditions forced a lot of teams to sit this meet out, which made for a quieter day. But we brought our own energy. I like where our competitors are at right now, and I think everyone is in a great place for their events.”
Men’s track and field will return to competition on Friday at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship in Birmingham, Ala.