|Senior Benji Wallace is the #3 seed in the pole vault this weekend|
MEDFORD – The Tufts University men's indoor track & field team will look to three-peat at the 2019 New England Division III Championships hosted by MIT this weekend (Feb. 22-23).
The Jumbos won the 2017 title at home in the Gantcher Center and then made it back-to-back at last year's meet at Middlebury. Tufts has six New England indoor titles overall including 2008, 1991, 1983 and 1980. According to head coach Joel Williams, adding a seventh this weekend will be a particularly difficult challenge.
"As always this will be one of the most challenging meets of the season," he said. "Unlike previous years, where two or three teams are battling for the title, I think there are six or seven that are more than capable of winning the meet. We have to go in with a never-quit mindset and be willing to put it all out there."
Jumbo senior Hiroto Watanabe is the two-time defending champion in the 800 meters at this meet. Seniors Josh Etkind in the 60-meter hurdles and Anthony Kardonsky in the 200 meters both won New England indoor indoor titles last February and will try to make it two in a row this weekend. However, the Jumbos' true recipe for success has been their depth of scoring at this meet and they will look for that to be the key again.
The Jumbos have won five consecutive 600 meters races at this event and have senior Tom Doyle as the #1 seed this year with a 1:21.80 season-best. Senior Nico Agosti (1:25.51) and junior Billy Witrock (1:25.54) will look to add valuable points in the 6.
The middle distances will feature Watanabe (1:55.83 seed time) and freshman Nick Delaney (1:56.89) in the 800, third-seeded junior Matt D'Anieri (2:31.63) in the 1,000 and senior co-captain Colin Raposo in the mile. Raposo's 4:13.02 converted mark in the mile is third in the New England rankings and sixth nationally.
For the sprints, Kardonsky enters Saturday as the sixth seed in the 60 meters (7.05) and the seventh-seed in the 200 (22.64). Etkind is a third-seed in the 60 hurdles with an 8.33 season-best mark.
Senior Dylan Jones will contend for a high finish in the 5,000 meters where his season-best time of 15:09.29 is ranked sixth in New England. Senior Rory Buckman is Tufts' top seed in the 3,000 meters with an 8:43.48 mark.
The Jumbos have run two top-five relay marks in New England this season. The distance medley relay (DMR) has a 10:31.57 and the 4x8 recorded an 8:08.92 mark. The Jumbos expect to send out freshman Collin O'Sullivan, junior Daniel Klain, junior Dylan McEniry and Raposo in the DMR. The probably starters in the 4x8 are junior Roman Lovell, D'Anieri, Delaney and Watanabe.
Senior Benji Wallace is one of Tufts' highest seed with his 15'5" (4.70m) mark in the pole vault. The Jumbos will look for season-best efforts from senior Charles Pennington in the high jump, freshman Tommy Bhangdia in the long jump, and freshman Alex Zsikla in the triple jump, who are all Tufts' highest seeds in their events.
Junior Kevin Quisumbing has the potential to be a major scorer in the throws, particularly in the shot put where his 49'8 ½" (15.15m) is ranked fourth. He's Tufts' highest seed in the weight throw as well with a 51'0" (15.54m) mark.
Freshman Ben Stein will get things going for the Jumbos on Friday when he begins the heptathlon competition. He's the seventh seed with a 4.231 score from the regular season.
Using the most recent US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll as an indicator, the Jumbos are joined by the host Engineers, WPI, Southern Maine, Middlebury, Plymouth State, Springfield and Williams among the top contenders for the 2019 New England crown.