The Boston University track program looked happy to be breathing in the fresh air in its first outdoor meet of the season Saturday at the Tufts Snowflake Classic. The women claimed first place in a field of 16 teams, and the men’s team finished fourth of 13 in Medford.
‘It was a good showing for our first meet outdoors,’ BU coach Robyne Johnson said. ‘We clearly want to build every time we hit the track.’
The women’s team, which was chosen in the preseason coaches’ poll to reclaim its America East title from last year, tallied nine event wins and 181 points at Tufts.
The squad shone without star distance runner Andrea Walkonen. Walkonen’s absence may have been for the better ‘-‘- she was running to a second-place finish in the 10,000-meter run at the Stanford Invitational on Friday in Stanford, Calif. Walkonen’s 33:13.66 finish made her the top collegian in the field of 20 runners, and automatically qualified her for the NCAA Championships.
The Terriers cleaned up in sprinting, nabbing the top three finishes in the 100-meter dash, the top six in the 200m dash and the top two in the 400m dash. The success was due in part to impressive performances by freshmen sprinters Jackie Dim and Shelby Walton.
Dim finished first in the 200m dash with a time of 25.14 seconds, while Walton breathed down her neck for second place at 25.30. BU senior Laura Martin (25.45), sophomores Amanda Howard (25.73) and Alex Jackson (26.09) and senior Edwina Clark (26.34) followed to finish third through sixth, respectively. In the 400m dash, Dim (59.21) grabbed another win, with Howard behind her in second (59.87).
Walton claimed the 100m-dash crown with a time of 12.18 seconds, followed by senior Tahari James in second (12.24) and junior Whitney Ford in third (12.14).
James and Martin also ran in BU’s winning 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Walton, who was named this season’s Most Outstanding Rookie in America East for the indoor track season, also ran a leg of the 4×100.
‘It’s sometimes tough coming in as a freshman, but she’s really stepped up to the challenge,’ Johnson said of Walton. ‘She’s doing exactly what we recruited her to do. What we thought she’d do is be very good and very competitive. Shelby has a great attitude. She always works hard.’
Ford took first place in the triple jump with a 12.53m jump that qualified her for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships in May. Freshman Katie Matthews and senior Mollie Zapata took first and second place in the 3,000m steeplechase, finishing in 11:42.06 and 11:42.96, respectively.
Senior Becky Marshburn led the field in the 400m hurdles with a time of 1:03.67, while sophomore Karly Neveu won high jump with a successful 1.65m attempt to round out the women’s victories.’ ‘
‘We like to win,’ BU coach Robyne Johnson said of her women’s team. ‘That’s always the foremost thought in our mind. We want to win the conference and defend our title. I think the kids on the team would say that as well, so that’s something we shoot for.’
The men’s team finished fourth Saturday with five event wins and 94 points. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute came in first with 141 points, while Bates College (132.5) and Tufts (104.5) also bested the Terriers.
The men’s team received standout performances from senior Kodjo Wilder and sophomore Dan Withrow. Wilder won the long jump with a 6.58m jump and ran a leg of BU’s first-place 4x100m relay.
Withrow, who was named America East Field Performer of the Week last week, qualified for the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America Championships with his first-place discus throw of 50.77m. Junior Jon Bicanic claimed second place in discus with a 46.69m throw.
The Terriers also won the 110m hurdles thanks to senior Jason Nardella’s first-place finish (15.28). Junior Mark Mazzochette bested opponents in the 400m dash with a time of 55.91.
‘We expect for them to keep improving and getting better and working harder at practice,’ Johnson said of both teams. ‘We just look forward to improving, definitely for the conference meet, but just for them in general and always trying to improve on one’s performance.’