|Hiroto Watanabe qualified for his second straight NCAA indoor 800 final|
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Tufts University distance medley relay (DMR) ran an All-American finish and Jumbo junior Hiroto Watanabe qualified for the finals in the 800 meters on the first day of the NCAA Division III Men's Indoor Track & Field Championships Friday.
The Tufts DMR foursome featured junior Christian Swenson in the lead-off 1,200 meter leg, senior co-captain Drew DiMaiti in the 400 leg, sophomore Matt D'Anieri in the 800 leg and junior Colin Raposo anchoring in the 1,600 leg. Running in a straight final including 12 teams, the Jumbos placed eighth with a 10:00.49 time. They were less than a half-second out of sixth place, where Wartburg finished in 10:00.03.
The eighth-place run earned All-American honors for the Tufts foursome. It's the second All-American award for DiMaiti (2015 indoor 4x4), while Swenson, D'Anieri and Raposo all took home their first national honors. D'Anieri substituted for Watanabe, who was part of the foursome that qualified the DMR for nationals. However, he focused on his individual race for NCAA's.
Watanabe earned the eighth and final qualifying spot in the 800 meters preliminaries on Friday with a 1:53.13 time in the first heat. With the two heat winners and the next four fastest times advancing, he sweated out the second heat before seeing his time was 0.10 faster than the 1:53.23 of regional rival Ryan Wittenberg from WPI, who finished ninth and out of the finals. By virtue of being one of the eight qualifiers, Watanabe earned All-American honors for the second straight season in the 800. Eighth in last year's NCAA indoor 800 final, he will run in the 2018 final tomorrow at 4:40 p.m. ET.
DiMaiti and junior Anthony Kardonsky were also in action for Tufts individually on Friday, but did not qualify for the finals. DiMaiti ran a 49.96 in the 400 meters and Kardonsky timed 22.15 seconds in the 200.
With the one point earned by the DMR, the Jumbos are tied for 28th place with five events scored following one day of action. Watanabe in the 800 and junior Stefan Duviver in the high jump will compete for the Jumbos tomorrow.
The 2018 championship is being held at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Alabama.