For 14 consecutive years, the Williams Ephs have held a monopoly on NESCAC titles. Every year since 2003, Williams has taken first place at the NESCAC Championships. Needless to say, the rest of the field will be looking to take down the defending champions, including the 2016 runners-up, the Tufts Jumbos.
The Jumbos will travel to Wesleyan to take part in the annual NESCAC tournament from today to Sunday. Tufts goes into this tournament ranked 14th in the country in Div. III. In those rankings, the team sits behind only two of its NESCAC rivals, as Amherst is ranked 11th and Williams is ranked eighth in the nation.
“We don’t put too much stock in that ranking,” coach Adam Hoyt said. “However, it is nice when your team’s performing well to be recognized for that performance. That’s why I think we’re ranked 14th in the country.”
The Jumbos last competed on Jan. 28 against Middlebury. Hoyt believes that the weeks of rest have helped his athletes prepare physically for the NESCAC tournament.
“Having a couple weeks to rest up, mentally it can be challenging, but physically it is extremely beneficial,” Hoyt said. “Managing your expectations during that period is very important, so that your body and your mind can be ready to go.”
The coach seemed optimistic in his team’s chances in the NESCAC tournament, while he did acknowledge that winning would be no easy task.
“We need to be great. We need to be great in all aspects,” Hoyt said. “We’re competing against a lot of tough competition and it’s not just Williams. It’s Connecticut College, it’s Amherst, it’s all the NESCAC schools.”
Standout junior Zachary Wallace echoed Hoyt’s sentiments regarding what the Jumbos need to do to take home the championship. Wallace added that having the right attitude going into the meet is vital.
“The number one thing we have to do is, as soon as we walk on that pool deck, we need to walk with confidence,” Wallace said. “We need to stand tall, we need to walk like champions, and we need to act like champions.”
While this is an important meet for every Jumbo on the swimming and diving squad, perhaps it carries even more weight for the team’s seniors. The Jumbos’ six seniors, including all three captains, will be competing in their last meet with the team.
Senior tri-captain Luca Guadagno was reflective talking about his final meet, but said he is excited for one last run with his teammates.
“It’s surreal for me,” Guadagno said. “It’s the end of my swimming career, which is crazy to say, but I couldn’t be more excited to do it with this team. I wouldn’t have continued swimming this long if it weren’t for my teammates, and I’m really excited to see how these guys swim this weekend.”
Tufts holds several of the top NESCAC qualifying times in the events that will take place this weekend. This includes two entries from first-year Roger Gu, in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events. Wallace also owns two of the conference’s top entries, in the 200-yard and 400-yard individual medleys.
In the 2016 NESCAC Tournament, Tufts finished in second place behind Williams, and was followed by Conn. College and Amherst, which took third and fourth places respectively.
Those three schools, Amherst, Conn. College and Williams, appear to be the toughest competition for the Jumbos in this year’s tournament. Williams, of course, is the perennial NESCAC Champion, and Tufts will be looking to unseat them.
The NESCAC Tournament kicks off today at 10 a.m.