MEDFORD - With 10 competitors on the roster possessing NCAA Championship experience, the Tufts University men's track & field team is once again poised for success in 2018-19.
|Junior Robert Jones is one of 10 Jumbos with NCAA race experience|
Eight of those 10 returnees who have competed at the national level are seniors, giving the Jumbos plenty of experience to combine with talent. That group of seniors includes Josh Etkind, Henry Hintermeister, Anthony Kardonsky, Brandon Levenstein, Thomas Miller, Colin Raposo, Christian Swenson and Hiroto Watanabe. Juniors Matt D'Anieri and Robert Jones join them as returning national qualifiers.
Head coach Joel Williams' Jumbos won their second straight New England Division III indoor title last season and had a 13th-place finish at the NCAA indoor meet. That's the baseline for the accomplishments that the team looks to reach this season, which starts at home on Saturday with the Tufts Invitational at the Gantcher Center.
"Our strengths this season will be our depth and experience and that we are a very well-rounded team," Coach Williams said. "Almost all of our returners have been scorers at our championship meets and we will rely heavily on them to try to repeat as New England champs. I truly believe that we are one of the more well-rounded track & field teams in Division III and that usually leads to great success in championship fields."
Etkind returns as a three-time national qualifier who has won two consecutive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) titles in the 110-meter hurdles. His 14.53 to win NESCAC's in 2017 is the conference championship meet record. Etkind was an All-American in the event as a sophomore with a school-record 14.37 mark and also holds Tufts' indoor 60-meter hurdles mark (8.16). Etkind also has a pair of New England D3 hurdles titles on his resume.
Five other Jumbos have multiple NCAA appearances (Hintermeister, Kardonsky, Raposo, Swenson and Watanabe). Watanabe has earned back-to-back indoor All-American honors in the 800 meters including a sixth-place finish last season (1:53.64). He has also won two consecutive New England D3 indoor races in the event. Raposo, who was the conference runner-up in the 1,500 meters last April, saw his first NCAA action as a freshman in 2016 with the distance medley relay (DMR) and returned to nationals with the DMR last March. He, Swenson and D'Anieri gained All-American honors with the DMR's eighth-place finish last March. Swenson is the school's outdoor 1,500 record-holder (3:49.25) and senior Tom Doyle is another reliable contributor to this event group.
Kardonsky, a conference and regional champion in his career, is part of a deep sprints roster for the Jumbos. He won the 200 meters at New England D3 indoors last year and was the NESCAC 100 meters champion in 2017. He holds the outdoor Jumbo 200 mark (21.71) and shares the 200 indoors (21.91) record. Jones, Miller, Levenstein - NCAA qualifiers all - and sophomore O.J. Armstrong are part of the great depth in the sprints. Levestein, Kardonsky, Miller and Jones were the conference runner-up in the 4x100-meter relay (42.34) in 2018.
Hintermeister was the conference champion in the javelin throw last spring, winning with a school-record 198'4" (60.45m) mark. He's also Tufts' top multi-event competitor come springtime. The throws group also includes junior Kevin Quisumbing, who earned second place in the shot put at the 2018 NESCAC meet.
Senior Ben Wallace took a big step last year in the pole vault, where he was the New England D3 runner-up indoors by clearing 15'5" (4.70m). Sophomore Matt Manteiga also had a championship-meet runner-up performance last season with a 22'6 ¼" (6.86m) leap at NESCAC's.
The distance group looks to score better this season led by seniors Dylan Jones, Brian Reaney, Rory Buckman and Andrew Doherty Munro.
Several other Jumbos who helped Tufts score at championship meets last season will look to place higher at the championships and challenge to qualify nationally. That includes Jordan Abate (long sprints), Nico Agosti (long sprints), Vincent Avallone (sprints), Avery Barnes (jumps/sprints/hurdles), Dylan Daisey (throws), Dylan McEniry (mid-distance), James Gregoire (jumps), Daeseob Lim (jumps/vault), Roman Lovell (mid-distance), Michael Mecha (jumps), Charles Pennington (jumps), Harry Steinberg (distance), Christian Trebisacci (throws) and Billy Witrock (long sprints/hurdles).
Coach Williams and his staff also brought in a class of 18 freshmen, some of whom they hope will contribute right away.