Medford, MA—the men's track and field team traveled to Tufts University today for the Tufts National Qualifying Meet. This meet serves as a highly competitive meet on the last possible day to qualify for the NCAA Championship next weekend, so schools from across the Eastern seaboard were in attendance. The Ephs made the most of their opportunity, running fast times in events across the board, and competing well in the field events contested.
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 qualify, which in most years has required a 10:02 clocking 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 fantastic 48 second 400. Despite slight illness, Colaizzi competed with grit, handing off to Estrada after a 1:55 800 leg. Estrada brought it home, finishing in 5th overall with a 4:13 1600 leg, for a time of 10:01.61. The Ephs currently sit in 12th in the NCAA at the time of this writing. It appears likely that they will therefore qualify for the NCAA Championship.
In the 5000, co-captain Ben Decker '18 also had a good performance. He ran an even, solid race, finishing in 2nd in 14:59.13. Decker has been consistent this season, running 3 times between 14:57 and 15:01, and looks set to be a force to reckon with outdoors in both the 5000 and the 10000.
In the 800, Kevin LaFleche '20 and co-captain Alex Cowen '18 both competed exceptionally 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 an impressive 1:56.79. LaFleche currently stands 13th in the national rankings at the time of this writing. Although some other last chance meets may have occurred today, he seems likely to have secured an NCAA qualifying berth.
In the 400, co-captain Tommy Riley '18 ran a 52.50. The decathlete will contest this event among his other nine this spring as he will attempt to achieve All-American status in his final season at Williams.
In the field events, the Ephs also performed well. 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 8th and 9th respectively, with marks of 13.30m and 13.16m.
Closing out the day for the Ephs in the 3000, Liam Simpson '18 had a tremendous race. Although Simpson had looked only to be an outside threat to qualify for nationals heading into the meet, it was clear that that was not a sentiment he shared. He ran fearlessly with the leaders through the mile in 4:30, before taking command of the race, kicking exceptionally well to win the race in a time of 8:19.44. Because NCAAs are held on a banked track this year, his result converts to an 8:13.70—2nd in the national rankings. For the Ephs, only 2-time national champion Peter Hale '17 has run faster than Simpson on a flat track.
Head Coach Ethan Barron was pleased with his team's performance today, saying "with the bad weather, this meet was actually a little low energy. 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."
The Ephs will return to competition next Friday at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, held in Birmingham, Alabama.