|Stefan Duvivier cleared 7'2 1/2" to win the NCAA high jump title|
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Senior Stefan Duvivier of the Tufts University men's indoor track & field team dominated the high jump at the NCAA Division III Championships today, winning the national title with a school-record 7'2 ½" (2.20m) mark.
Duvivier was nearly flawless in winning his first NCAA championship. After passing at the opening height (6'3 ½" – 1.92m), he was successful on his first attempts at 6'5 ½" (1.97m), 6'7 ½" (2.02m), 6'9" (2.06m) and 6'10 ¾" (2.10m). There were four competitors left when the bar was moved up to 6'11 ¾" (2.13m).
Though he had his first miss of the day in his first attempt at 6'11 ¾," he made his second attempt to break his own school record. He then watched as two more competitors were eliminated. Rowan's Harrison Escoffery cleared that height on this last attempt and joined Duvivier as the bar went to 7'1" (2.16m). Duvivier cleared his first attempt at 7'1" and Escoffery missed on all three of his attempts giving Duvivier the win.
Having an extraordinary day, the Jumbo continued on towards the NCAA meet record. After passing on 7'2 ¼" (2.19m), he made his second attempt at 7'2 ½" (2.20m) to further improve upon his school record. That is tied for the fourth-best indoor mark in NCAA DIII history. Going for the meet record at 7'3 ¾" (2.23m), he missed his first attempt and then passed on the next two to call it a day.
But what a day it was. In addition to Duvivier's victory, the Jumbos also saw junior Hiroto Watanabe earn All-American honors with a sixth place in the 800 meters final. With the combined 13 points earned by the pair of Jumbos today, Tufts totaled 14 for the championship to finish tied for 13th place at the national meet. It's the program's best NCAA team finish since the 2007 indoor Jumbos tied for seventh. This is the fourth top 20 finish indoors in the last five seasons. Tufts was the highest finishing New England team at the national championship.
This is the second All-American performance for Duvivier. He was third outdoors last season. This was his third NCAA meet overall as he also qualified indoors in 2017 and placed 10th. He was tied for fifth on the NCAA performance list entering the meet. A member of the basketball team at Tufts for two-plus seasons, he hadn't concentrated on the high jump indoors for a full year until this winter and it paid off in a big way.
"I'm a firm believer in trusting the process," Duvivier said in an email from Alabama. "Sam (Wuest), my coach, put me through an incredible training program and all I did was follow it. It was also nice to have a real pre-season for the first time ever, not occupied with basketball. These last couple weeks - especially the last few days away from the stresses of class - have been very restful comparatively to the rest of the season. That was key to being mentally and physically ready for competition today. It feels great being a national champion. It was a long time coming."
The national championship is the second in as many days for Tufts' track & field programs. Senior Brittany Bowman won the women's 5,000 meters NCAA title on Friday. This is the first time Tufts' teams have won national championships in the same year since Mark Herlihy (3,000 steeplechase) and Nancy Benson (3,000 meters) won at the 1988 outdoor meet. Duvivier won Tufts' first-ever national crown in the high jump and extended to 11 the list of NCAA individual championships won by Tufts athletes since 2010.
Watanabe had his best career finish and time at the NCAA meet in the 800 meters final on Saturday. His 1:53.64 time for sixth place earned him All-American honors indoors for the second straight season. He was eighth in the event last year (1:56.93). He was second among four New England competitors in the national final today, behind only Mass.-Dartmouth's George Papoulis (1:52.79 for fourth).
Mount Union won the national championship with a team score of 41 points, narrowly edging second-place North Central (40). The meet was held at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Alabama.