By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
On March 4, four of UMass Dartmouth’s most promising track and field athletes took to the Tuft’s Last Chance Qualifier meet.
This wasn’t any old track meet, for the athletes that were there weren’t so much competing with the others, as they were competing for the best qualifying numbers to reach the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships.
The top 15 ranked individuals in each track and field event will take a trip to Illinois on the weekend of March 11, to compete head to head with some of the country’s greatest.
George Papoulis ran the 800 meter race of his life at the meet, posting a personal best time of 1:53:72. He finished second overall, and thanks to his great 800 meter time, he moved up to 11th place nationally for the event.
As long as he isn’t overtaken by other competitors running this week, he’s expected to reach the Division III Championships.
Reme DiGiovanni ran a 5:17 mile to place 11th overall in the meet, but not reaching the top 15 nationwide.
Papoulis wasn’t the only athlete who registered a personal best on the day. Jared Louf-Woods rocked the shot put, beating his previous record by 13 inches.
The throw was 17.65 meters, which landed him at second overall in the event. His ranking jumped up to 21st nationally, which is within strike of the national championships.
Joao Baptista was another second place finisher from the Corsairs crew, posting a 1.97 meter high jump. He’s topped two meters before, but his 1.97 meter leap was enough to beat out nearly every competitor.
Danielle Devine was UMass Dartmouth’s female representative for the high jump, and her mark of 1.50 meters exactly tied her for tenth place on the event.
Every athlete hopes they have what it takes to be ranked 15th or higher overall, and it looks like runner George Papoulis is in a good position to make the trip to Naperville, Ill. The rankings will be announced mid to late this week, and the journey will take place on Saturday.
Tufts University, where the Last Chance qualifiers were just held, was the school that last year’s #1 ranked 800 meter runner came from.
Mitchell Black posted a 1:48.60 in 2016 to make it to the championships as the favorite.
In fact, last year’s 15th ranked 800 meter runner ran a time of 1:50:82 to barely reach the championship. George Papoulis is very fortunate to be ranked 11th this year with a 1:53.
On the other side of things, Jared Louf-Woods’s throw of 17.65 meters on Saturday would have just barely ranked 2nd place overall in the 2016 national event, but this year, it’s ranked 21st. Different years bring much different competition.
Let’s hope our fellow Corsair George Papoulis holds his rank and represents us well in the 2017 Division III Track and Field Championships!