In their appearances after the Boston Marathon bombings, members of the Boston University track and field team traveled to several meets across the nation with the events of the past few weeks heavy on their minds.
“Even though it was a marathon kind of competition, it was still, for the track community, like a track event,” said BU director of track and field Robyne Johnson about the bombings. “It felt like it was just an attack of all levels of running and track and field and kind of just running in general.”
The Terriers were scheduled to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Invitational on April 20, but due to the shooting on the MIT campus, the meet was canceled.
“I think it even makes people a little nervous when you go into a big venue like the Penn Relays where there’s 48,000 people in the stands,” Johnson said. “The good thing is when we arrived on Thursday, the ladies were out on the track … people started shouting out ‘Boston! We’ve got your back!’
“They realized, oh, I’m wearing this big ‘Boston’ across my chest, and people are affected by me being here.”
At the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, senior R.J. Page qualified for finals in the 100m dash with a time of 10.55 seconds. He finished in 10.58 seconds in the final to place seventh, the highest finish for any Terrier at that meet.
Page came out of the blocks a bit slow during the qualifying heat, Johnson said, and was in about sixth place at the 30-meter mark, but completed the race with a fast enough time to qualify for finals.
“It was a big boost for him,” Johnson said. “He kept his composure and finished that race well enough to finish that race in second … for him to maintain his composure, gather himself and finish that race strong, speaks tremendously to his competitive nature.”
Graduate student Zachary Ray took the track to compete in the 110m and 400m hurdles, finishing with times of 14.37 seconds and 53.49 seconds respectively.
For the women, senior Nikko Brady’s time of 13.94 seconds in the 100m hurdles was 13th-best in the qualifying heats.
“I’m very pleased with Nikko,” Johnson said. “This is probably the most consistent she’s run since she’s been at BU.”
Sophomore Gemma Acheampong (20th, 12.03 seconds) and senior Shelby Walton (21st, 12.05 seconds) competed in the 100m dash. Sophomore Tessa Runels competed in the triple jump and finished with a mark of 11.27 meters.
Acheampong, Brady, Mirochnick and Walton also participated in the 4x100m relay, finishing in 47.29 seconds. The same four finished the 4x200m relay with a time of 1:39.77.
Closer to home, several Terriers competed at the Skyhawk Invitational in Easton Friday evening.
Four Terriers emerged victorious at the Invitational, as senior Tewado Latty won the 400m dash in a time of 47.87 seconds.
Freshman Alec Olson won the 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:17.11, while fellow distance runner and classmate Kevin Thomas won the 1,500m run in 3:52.95. Freshman Reuben Horace won the hammer throw with a mark of 56.87 meters.
“I think it’s a credit to them as well as their coaching staff just preparing them to be ready,” Johnson said of the success of her freshmen. “Tremendous respect for those guys who really come in here and kind of just settled in, did everything they’re supposed to, listened to what their coaches are telling them, and the results tell it.
“Part is they’re just really motivated individuals.”
Seniors Elliot Lehane and Robert Gibson joined Thomas in the 1,500m run, also earning high marks. Lehane placed fourth with a personal best of 3:54.76, while Gibson finished seventh with a time of 3:57.48.
Rounding out a solid evening for the BU distance runners were freshman Paul Gennaro and senior Terence Galasso, who finished fourth (15:17.29) and seventh (15:34.41) respectively.
Sophomore Alex Civitano turned in an eighth-place finish in the 800m run, clocking 1:58.27.
Senior Sam Arsenault placed fifth in the 110m hurdles with a time of 17.09 seconds. Sophomore Etinosa Obaseki placed seventh in the 100m dash (11.73 seconds).
In the field events, sophomore Michael Maloof finished right behind Horace, placing second in the hammer throw with a mark of 51.22 meters.
Senior Adam Weaver also took home a second-place finish with a mark of 4.40m in the pole vault. Senior Sam Wuest placed third in the high jump, jumping 1.98m.
Junior Pavan Mehat had a mark of 13.64m in the triple jump, finishing in third place.
Freshman Young Guang placed fifth in the shot put with a mark of 11.56m, while junior Nat Hinckley and Guang finished sixth (34.24m) and seventh (33.34m) respectively in the discus.
In the final meet of the weekend, two BU runners — despite having not competed for two weeks — took the track in the elite fields at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Stanford, Calif., Sunday evening, and crossed the finish line in school record-shattering times.
Graduate student Katie Matthews, the only collegiate runner in the elite section of the 5,000m run, finished in 12th place with a time of 15:44.19.
The time crushed her previous school record of 16:01.16, which Matthews set in 2011.
Junior Rich Peters ran the 1,500m run in a time of 3:40.05, finishing in eighth place. Peters’ time was over two seconds less than his previous school record of 3:42.69, which he set last year at the NCAA Championships.
This new time is also the fourth fastest in the nation.
“It was great,” Johnson said of Peters and Matthews. “Those two are phenomenal anyway. They continue to break records and make giant leaps in their careers … they’re breaking all their personal records and school records. “Both are very motivated and stay focused … to see both of them break school records doesn’t really surprise me, but I’m always happy to see them achieve their goals.”
Sophomore Stuart Ross and senior Nikki Long also competed at the Invitational. Ross placed 15th in the 800m run with a time of 1:53.04, while Long finished the 1,500m run in 4:40.25.
As bigger meets approach in the upcoming weeks, Johnson said the team is primarily focused on posting continually improved times.
“We’re looking to improve on some of our regional qualifying times,” Johnson said.
“We’re looking to peak towards that end and keep it going to the NCAAs, the preliminary rounds and then hopefully the national championship.”