The Tufts University men's outdoor track & field team hopes to challenge for a conference title when it competes at the 2019 NESCAC Championships this weekend at Middlebury College.
Tufts last won the NESCAC title in 2015, part of a three-year Jumbo run as conference champs. They have been second (2016), second again (2017) and third last season in the years since. Head coach Joel Williams' team expects to be in another competitive battle this weekend.
Jumbos are ranked first in the conference in six events this spring. Senior Josh Etkind is the two-time defending conference champ in the 110-meter hurdles and classmate Henry Hintermeister returns as the javelin throw champion. Seniors Anthony Kardonsky and Tommy Miller also have conference first-place finishes, together with the 4x100-meter relay when they were freshmen in 2016 and then Kardonsky was first in the 100 meters race in 2017.
Etkind won the NESCAC 110-hurdles in a conference record 14.52 seconds a year ago. He's ranked 13th nationally with his 14.66 season-best from the quad meet at MIT this spring. Hintermeister broke the Tufts record with his 198'4" (60.45m) win in the javelin last season. His best mark of 2019 is a 187'0" (57.01m).
With a best time of 10.96 seconds in the 100 meters, Kardonsky leads a deep sprints group. Miller has NESCAC's fourth-best 200 (21.93), while junior Robert Jones and sophomore OJ Armstrong should also score. Kardonsky, Armstrong, Jones and junior Jordan Abate are the league's top-ranked 4x1 relay (42.06).
Junior Kevin Quisumbing in the shot put and sophomore Matthew Manteiga in the long jump will both seek their first conference crowns. Each was the runners-up in their events last season and has the league's best marks for 2019. Quisumbing threw 51'7" (15.72m) on spring break in San Diego and Manteiga went 22'6 ¼" (6.86m) at Tufts' Snowflake Classic in late March.
The long sprints and middle distance group is a veteran unit that could add valuable points. Senior Thomas Doyle ran a 49.02 400 in San Diego. Seniors Hiroto Watanabe and Colin Raposo are experienced veterans who don't yet have top-eight marks in the league this spring, but could easily score high. Freshman Nicholas Delaney is the young blood of the group with Tufts' best 1,500 of the spring (3:58.29).
Senior co-captain Benji Wallace cranked a career-high 15'9" (4.80m) in the pole vault at MIT to rank second in the league. He joins Manteiga as the leaders of the jumps / vault group which also has senior Charles Pennington in the high jump, sophomore Daeseob Lim in the vault and freshman Alexander Zsikla in the triple jump.
Senior Dylan Jones has put together a good spring in the distances. His 14:52.43 in the 5,000 and 32:33.06 in the 10K are both top-five marks in the conference. Other top distance times on the team have come from freshman Joseph Harmon (10K) and sophomore Peter Horvath (3,000-meter steeplechase).
Juniors Christian Trebisacci and Dylan Daisey join Quisumbing in the weight throws. Trebisacci is Tufts' top performer in the discus and hammer, including a 137'11" (42.05m) discus spin that was third-best in NESCAC this spring.
Freshman decathlete Ben Stein seems bound to show up in the scoring somewhere, considering he's ranked eighth in NESCAC in the 400-meter hurdles and third in the long jump. The 400 hurdles has three in the top eight including freshman Riley Patten and junior Billy Witrock.
Patten , Witrock , Doyle and freshman Sam Oomen-Lochtefeld have Tufts' best 4x4 time of the season (3:25.51) and the Jumbos will run a 4x8 for the first time this spring at the conference meet.
No team seems to stand above the rest in Saturday's field. Defending champion and host Middlebury, an Amherst team that was the top NCAA indoor finisher in NESCAC, 23-time NESCAC champion Williams and a Jumbo team that was second at the New England Division III Indoor Championship are all in the mix among others.