With the NCAA championships approaching quickly, the Brandeis men’s and women’s track teams sent a small group of athletes to Tufts University for their last chance to prove that they belong among the nation’s Division III elite. This meant top 15 in the nation for the men, top 17 for women and top 12 in relays. This was the penultimate meet of the indoor season and as the weather continues to get warmer, the outdoor season will begin. 

The men’s team sent three athletes to Tufts with the hope that all three would qualify for the NCAA championships on Friday in Birmingham, Alabama. Scott Grote ’19 impressed all season in the weight throw, so he was a natural choice to send to Tufts. His throw of 14.31m placed him tenth in the meet, but it was not enough to rank him nationally. Not qualifying for the NCAA championships should not take away from the incredible numbers that Grote put up all season long. Churchill Perry ’20 travelled to Tufts to compete in the triple jump. While his 12.60m jump was not enough to qualify him for NCAA’s, he still finished an impressive sixth at the meet overall, capping off a great sophomore campaign. Team captain Ryan Stender ’18 also attended the Tufts meet to compete in the 3000m run. Stender finished the race in 8:41.91, good for seventh at the meet. His 3000m time from earlier in the season was enough to put him at 21st nationally, but it did not qualify him to move on. This should not detract from a dominant four years Stender has spent leaving others in his dust. Graduate student Irie Gourde ’17, who only just joined the team as a senior last year, already had the times necessary to qualify for two events. He did not go to Tufts, but no one beat his times, so he will be Brandeis’ lone male representative in Birmingham. Gourde currently owns the second fastest time in the 400-meter dash, 47.81 seconds, and his time of 22.09 seconds for the 200-meter dash is seeded 10th at nationals after track conversion. This is Gourde’s first trip to nationals for the indoor season after placing 18th in the 400-meter last spring during the outdoor season. 

For the women, the highlight of the day certainly came with the help of their distance medley. The team of Lisbeth Valdez ’21 on the 400m leg, Doyin Ogundiran ’19 taking the 800m leg, Julia Bryson ’19 on the 1200-meter leg, and Emily Bryson ’19 anchoring, already had the eighth ranked time for their event coming into the Tufts meet. However, they did not want to leave anything up to chance, as most schools hadn’t run their best squads for the event. They came to Tufts anyway and won the event with a time of 11:47.36, improving their ranking to second in the nation, trailing the national leaders by less than half a second. Ogundiran and Emily Bryson will forego competing in other events in order to give this medley team the best shot at winning nationals. Ogundiran is currently ranked seventh in the 800-meter run and Bryson’s mile is good for second in the nation. Jordin Carter ’18 definitely showed the most improvement out of anyone on either team. Her weight throwing season ended at the Tufts meet, but not before she had the second-best throw of her career, going 15.69m, placing her fourth at the meet. This performance was the sixth straight competition in which Carter had a throw over 15 meters after having never gone over the mark before the season began. 

The NCAA Division III indoor  track and field national championships  will begin on Friday,  March 9 in Birmingham, Alabama.