Spring sports season recaps

Graduating senior outfielder Casey Santos-Ocampo sprints towards home plate during Tufts' 24-6 win over Mass. Maritime on March 27. (Evan Slack / The Tufts Daily)

Baseball

Men’s baseball had another impressive regular season, going 29–9 overall and 10–2 in conference en route to the team’s sixth NESCAC title. The Tufts Jumbos clinched the title in a seven-game thriller against the Middlebury Panthers, after securing their 11th NESCAC East Pennant on May 4 in a doubleheader against the Bates Bobcats. On May 17, Tufts will face off against Penn. St.-Harrisburg in the NCAA regional round for its eighth national tournament berth as the team looks to carry its NESCAC success to the national scale.

The Jumbos started off their season at home with a 17–15 victory over the Brandeis Judges before heading to Virginia for a nine-game spring break road trip. Tufts went 7–2 during the stretch, including an impressive 7–3 win over then-No. 19 Randolph-Macon. Coach John Casey tweaked the lineup throughout the week, looking to determine the starting nine for the first conference weekend.

“Our goal, honestly, when we are done with that trip, our goal is to say ‘okay, here is our lineup going into the first league weekend,’” Casey said. “That’s what we are shooting for. Hopefully we get there, but that doesn’t mean [the lineup] stays static either, so that changes a little bit as the year goes on.”

Following the trip to Virginia, the Jumbos returned home to play 14 consecutive games at Huskins Field. The Jumbos went 11–3 in the home stand, including two separate three-game winning streaks and a four-game winning streak to end the home stretch. The Jumbos then began a 10-game road stretch where they went 7–3, losing to Endicott, Trinity and the University of Southern Maine.

As of the NESCAC championship on May 12, the Jumbos have scored 324 runs in 38 games for an average of 8.5 runs per game and have batted .310 overall throughout the season. The team has also amassed a .429 on-base percentage and 26 home runs to boot. Rising junior infielder Kyle Cortese spoke to the Daily about the team’s approach when at the plate.

“No matter how many outs there are in the inning, what the situation is, your goal is just to get on base so the next guy has the opportunity to do the same thing,” Cortese said. “Just hitting the ball hard, forcing the defense to make a play, getting guys on base. [You’re] trying to do your job as a hitter and pass the bat to the next guy in line.”

Cortese also explained that part of the team’s success is because of its mentality to never give up in a ballgame, perhaps best illustrated when rising junior J.P. Knight hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning with one strike left to raise Tufts over Middlebury and earn the team one of two places in the NESCAC tournament.

“We are a team that never gives up, [as seen] in the Trinity game,” Cortese said. “We get to choose when the game ends. As hitters, as long as we are working quality at-bats and trying to get on [base] anyway possible, we can drag the game on as long as possible. [We] play a solid nine innings of baseball and just do anything in our power that is going to put us in the best position to win.”

On the pitching side, the Jumbos maintained a 3.80 ERA throughout the season, with a 2.91 ERA in NESCAC games. With the loss of their two senior co-captains from the previous season, the Jumbos relied on new talent to step onto the mound. Rising sophomore pitcher Aidan Tucker went 6–0 with two saves and 39 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched.

As of May 13, rising sophomore infielder Peter DeMaria started in 35 games so far this season, and of the seven players with over 100 at-bats on the team, DeMaria’s .346 batting average is the third highest behind only rising senior outfielder Justin Mills’ .359 and rising senior infielder Elias Varinos’ .361. DeMaria’s .577 slugging percentage is accompanied with two homeruns so far this season.

Senior pitcher and co-captain RJ Hall emphasized the impact that the first-years have had on their success this season.

“[First-years] stepped in. Pete DeMaria stepped in at first base, and he’s been having a lights-out season,” Hall said. “Aidan Tucker has turned into a weekend starter for us, which has been crucial to the success of the team. The senior class is kind of relentless and allows nothing but everyone’s best, and the [first-year] class has bought into that and has been performing for us.”

Men’s crew

The Jumbos started their championship season this month, participating in the New England Rowing Championships on May 4 and the National Invitational Rowing Championships on May 12.

In the team’s final competition of the season, the first varsity eight (1V8) placed fourth in the NESCAC championship, which was part of the National Invite in Worcester, Mass. After finishing third in the second heat with a time of 6:10.168, the Jumbos continued into the petite final where they finished second.

The 2V8 finished fifth in the petite final, posting a 6:30.92 finish after finishing its heat with a 6:22.669 time. After finishing fifth in the second heat, the 3V8 finished as the runner-up in the petite final.

On May 4, the Jumbos took part in the New England Rowing Championships hosted at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. In the 2V8 race, Tufts placed third, a mere 1.2 seconds behind the Coast Guard Academy and barely missed the chance to move on to the grand final.

Tufts responded with a resounding win in its petite final with a time of 6:33.88. The 3V8 team placed seventh in its time trial, from which it advanced to beat the Coast Guard Academy by just under 25 seconds in the petite final. With its times, the team exited the Championship in seventh place behind NESCAC rivals Williams, Bates, Wesleyan and Trinity.

This spring season was a relatively successful one for the Jumbos, and perhaps part of the reason for that was consistency among the boating lineups, as graduating senior Nick Hartman explained.

“In past years, the boat lineups have moved around a lot from race to race in the spring,” he said. “This year, the lineups haven’t changed too much which has allowed the different groups to have more time to find their rhythm together.”

With their newfound rhythm, the Jumbos finished off their regular season with two regattas at Lake Quinsigamond. The final race of the regular season was hosted by Holy Cross and included three NESCAC visitors consisting of Tufts, Bates and Williams.

In the Holy Cross regatta, Tufts’ 3V8 came in second in its race for Tufts’ best placement result on the day. The boat was a hair under four seconds behind first-place Williams. Holy Cross won the 1V8 race, while Bates finished in second and Tufts finished in third. The Jumbos were just over six seconds behind the victorious Crusaders. Tufts’ 2V8 came in fourth place in its race, which Holy Cross also won.

In the Baker Cup, hosted annually by the WPI Engineers on the same lake, Tufts’ boats had one of its most successful team performances of the regular season. The Jumbos came out on top in all three of the races they participated in, handily defeating the Engineers and the Skidmore College Thoroughbreds to win the regatta.

During the successful April 21 Baker Cup, the Jumbos’ 1V8 squad finished with a comfortable lead over the Engineers and the third-place Thoroughbreds, winning the race by over seven seconds. Tufts finished the 2k course in just 6:13.0. The 2V8 team followed with a solid performance of its own, defeating WPI by just under five seconds, 6:31.8 to 6:36.57. The 3V8, which had been undefeated up to the Baker Cup, defeated WPI for the third time on the day by the largest margin of the three races at nine seconds.

The second regatta of the season was hosted by the Jumbos at the Malden River in Medford, Mass., on April 13, where the team celebrated Senior Day with the families of many of the graduating rowers. Coach Noel Wanner gave an emotional speech, which graduating senior Tamas Takata gave his perspective on.

“Coach Noel [is] always a great speaker,” he said. “But [on Saturday] you could see his emotions come out when he was talking about the seniors. You could tell he really cares about each and every one of us. He was getting teared up, and I was getting emotional myself.”

Following the ceremony, Tufts faced off against Bates, Wesleyan and UMass. The team won four out of its six races on the day, with the 3V8 winning both of its races to stay undefeated on the season. The 1V8 and 2V8 for the Jumbos each won their respective semifinal races, but both lost in the finals to the Wesleyan Cardinals’ boat in each category.

Eleven rowers were honored as part of the senior festivities, including graduating senior co-captains Ryan Bell and Isaac Mudge. Hartman, Takata, Jordan Bacher, Samson Braun, Rich Gilland, James Grant, Ted Midthun, James Miller and Alec Whipple round out the rest of the senior class.

Hartman reflected on his four years on the team, speaking about some of the memories that he and his fellow seniors have shared together.

“I think my best experiences on the team have come from the group I got to share them with,” Hartman explained. “We have a very strong team dynamic of people who can fully trust each other. It takes a good group of people to motivate you to wake up at 5 a.m. every day and fully exert yourself.”

Rising senior co-captain Paul Gelhaus noted that his graduating teammates have meant a lot to the rowers and the program as a whole.

“Those guys have presided over one of the biggest changes in any Tufts sports team,” Gelhaus said. “When I was a [first-year], and a little bit before that, we were in the doldrums of the NESCAC. We started trending upwards when [the Class of 2019] came into the fold, and now we’re pretty close to the top. Those guys have led the charge.”

Women’s crew

The women’s crew team finished second out of a field of 18 teams at the National Invitational Rowing Championships (NIRC) on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., on May 12. It was the team’s last competition of the season. The 1V8’s 7:05.204 mark in the grand final was just over three seconds faster than WPI’s and just under seven seconds slower than Bates’ championship time.

In the NESCAC championship portion of the NIRC, Tufts finished third in its heat and then fourth in the petite final to finish fifth overall, based in part on Tufts’ performances from over boats.

“It’s been a long season partly because we have a drive to be super competitive and train really hard,” graduating senior co-captain Libby Lichter said. There’s also a lot of really cool things happening in Div. III women’s rowing right now. There’s so much speed and competition, and that has pushed us to be even better than we thought we could be.”

In the New England Championship regatta on May 4 hosted at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., the team’s first four varsity eight boats all fared well. In the 2V8 race, the team won its heat over the likes of Williams and Colby by just under three seconds, advancing to the grand final where they placed fourth out of six.

The team also placed fourth in the women’s 3V8 grand final. Tufts closed out the day with a first-place finish in the petite final of the 1V8 and exited the tournament with an admirable fifth place out of 28 competing teams.

Just before championship season, the Jumbos held the 11th-best rank in the nation in Div. III women’s rowing. The team closed out the regular season by participating in the Brown Cup, which, like its men’s counterpart, the Baker Cup, was hosted by WPI in Worcester, Mass., and featured visits from Tufts, Clark, Skidmore and William Smith.

Tufts put four boats in the water at the Brown Cup. The Jumbos won three times in the regatta, with the 2V8, 3V8 and 4V8 teams all winning their respective races. The 1V8 participated in the largest race of the day, which consisted of all five teams attending the regatta. In that race, the WPI Engineers came out on top with a time of 7:00.0; the Jumbos finished in third place, 18.54 seconds behind the victors.

A week prior, on April 13, the team had its last home regatta of the season on the Malden River. This was the team’s senior day, and the team celebrated its six graduating rowers. For the competition, Bates, Wesleyan and Wellesley — all of which were ranked within the nation’s top 10 — visited Tufts’ home river.

The Jumbos participated in seven races on the day, with the first three varsity eight boats all losing to Bates in their respective semifinal races and also dropping all three consolation races. The 4V8 lost its single race against Wellesley, so Tufts ended up winless on the day.

The team’s prior competitions were more successful for the Jumbos. In the opening weekend of the spring campaign on the Malden River, Tufts faced off against Trinity and the Coast Guard Academy on April 6, followed by races against Amherst and Smith on April 7. Lichter spoke about the success of the less-experienced boats this season.

“I think we’ve demonstrated a lot more depth that we’ve been able to show in the past,” Lichter said. “We have significantly more speed throughout the entire team. I like to say your top boat is only as fast as your second boat, [which] is only as fast as your third boat, [which] is only as fast as your fourth boat. So those groups have really been pushing each other.”

As the spring season comes to a close, several Jumbos have finished their rowing careers. The team will graduate senior co-captains Miranda Finestone and Lichter, as well as Lauren Drohosky, Bibi Lichauco, Erika Madrian and Miriam Weiss.

“So much of ourselves and our entire experience in college has been invested in this team,” Lichter said. “Everything has gone by really fast. It feels like we were just at Head of the Charles, New England’s [our first] year. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.”

Golf

As spring arrived in Medford, the Tufts men’s golf team, energized by its success in the fall, opened the second leg of its season with an emphasis on development and preparation. After qualifying for only the second NESCAC championship in school history in the fall, the team toted heightened expectations.

The team began the spring with a strong showing at the Rhode Island College Invitational. The Jumbos finished day one tied for third place with a total score of 313, led by admirable finishes from rising junior Harry Theodore and graduating senior Justin Feldman. Both carded a 76 for the day, good for a fourth place tie overall and only two strokes behind the round-leading score of 74.

Day two saw a jump to second place for the Jumbos behind strong finishes from rising senior Brandon Karr and rising sophomore Travis Clauson, who scored 77 and 78 points, respectively. Karr and Feldman both finished in the top 10 of the invitational. While Tufts scored five more strokes on day two than on the previous day, it left the tournament in second place, tied with Endicott College and a mere four strokes behind invitational leaders Johnson and Wales University.

“We came out of thinking, ‘oh, we should have won that tournament,’” Feldman said. “Even as early as last year, we would have been jumping off the walls coming in second in a tournament. It was really cool to see everyone on the same page, driven toward success.”

The following two tournaments for the Jumbos did not reach the same heights: Tufts tied for seventh out of 20 at the JWU invitational and finished 10th at the LaFrance Hospitality Invitational. Nonetheless, there were plenty of bright spots that shed optimism for the Jumbos going into the NESCAC championship.

Leading up to the weekend of April 27 and 28, Tufts continued to look onwards toward the looming NESCAC championship. When tournament day finally came, play was delayed due to rain, and players took to the soggy course with nine holes to define their day one performances later in the day. Confidence was high, as the team prides itself on its ability to post strong scores in the midst of difficult conditions.

Three of four Tufts scorers sat at 40 by the end of the day, a less than ideal spot for the Jumbos. Rising junior Alex Honigford managed to break the team’s day-one spell with a team-leading 39 strokes. With nine fewer holes to prove themselves, the margin for error was thin going into the second round of the tournament.

Day two saw the tournament play out with a full 18 holes. The Jumbos were ultimately unable to properly recover from their performance in day one. Honigford managed to lead the team once more, this time posting an admirable score of 74. His overall finish was tied for 16th best in the tournament. Rising junior Henry Hughes also managed to card a 74 on the day, and both players were in the thick of things for day two. The team was unable to string together enough performances to make a comeback. Instead, the focus turned more toward gaining experience in the tournament atmosphere.

“We wound up treating the tournament less like the last game of this season and more like the first game of the next season,” Feldman said.

The team ended up placing fourth out of four teams competing in the NESCAC championship. Looking ahead, the future is bright for the Tufts golf team. Throughout the tournaments, the Jumbos always managed to maintain a strong sense of consistency and drive. Rarely did the Jumbos let errors and slip-ups bother them. And as noted by coach George Pendergast, there was a strong sense of camaraderie between the members of the team.

“The team is very cohesive, and everyone gets along very well. We compete pretty hard,” Pendergast said. “I give this season an A.”

Pendergast also explained that moving forward, the team will look to tweak its game and practices to continue to drive home the its ultimate goal of making every stroke count.

“We drive the ball pretty well, almost as good as anybody else,” Pendergast said. “Our chipping and putting game suffered a bit. We will be sure to emphasize that for next year.”

The Jumbos only graduate two seniors this year, so four out of five players who competed in the NESCAC tournament will return, demonstrating the team’s promise next year. The five first-years on the team, who now have some sizeable experience under their belts, will continue to hone and sharpen their games as well. The team also expects a slew of new first-years to compete for spots on the team in the upcoming fall season.

Men’s lacrosse

This spring, the No. 3 Tufts men’s lacrosse team demonstrated the fierce, unyielding talent that has earned it the reputation as one of the top teams in the NESCAC and the nation. The team continued its quest for its first NCAA title since 2015 after making five NCAA championship appearances since 2010 when it faced familiar NESCAC foe Amherst in the NCAA quarterfinal on May 15 at home, but narrowly fell by a score of 13–11 to end a season full of success.

On Saturday, April 27, the Jumbos (19–1) competed in their last regular-season match of the season against their NESCAC rivals, the Trinity College Bantams (8–8). With the 17–8 victory, the nationally ranked Jumbos put an explosive cap on an impressive 15–1 regular season.

This momentum established by the Jumbos during their outstanding regular season carried over into the postseason, where they won their ninth NESCAC title after winning two back-to-back sudden death overtime victories against the Middlebury Panthers and the Williams Ephs in the semifinals and championship match, respectively.

Although the Jumbos have had their share of tight, down-to-the-wire games this season, the two NESCAC tournament wins brought forth the Jumbos’ first overtime situations since April 2018.

Fittingly, the hero of the NESCAC tournament was this season’s breakout star, rising junior attacker Max Waldbaum. Waldbaum — who leads the team in goals with a whopping 67 goals and has already solidified himself as the fifth-highest single season scorer in program history as of May 13 — saved the Jumbos in both the Middlebury and Williams games. On May 4 in the NESCAC semifinal, he miraculously sunk the Jumbos 14th and final goal with a mere six seconds remaining in the first overtime period, sending the Jumbos to the championship game against Williams.

It was at the championship game that Waldbaum was given yet another gleaming opportunity to demonstrate the raw talent and ferocity that he has shown on the field all season. A Williams’ comeback from a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter tied the game at 16 to force sudden-death overtime. For almost three minutes, both teams were unable to put in the 33rd total goal of the game. But following a near-perfectly executed cradle-and-spin move, Waldbaum launched the ball towards the goal with the full force of his 6’2”, 225-pound frame.

Every fan in attendance followed the path of the little, white ball as it passed the left shoulder of Williams rising sophomore goalie Harry Gahagan, and as the ball crossed the goal line to seal the Jumbos’ right as NESCAC champions, Waldbaum turned to the stands. As his teammates processed their victory and rushed to bound atop the shoulders of their clutch compatriot, Waldbaum calmly gave a salute towards the roaring spectators and fans that undoubtedly help propel the team to performance on the afternoon.

In the regular season, the Jumbos’ sole loss came at the hands of the No. 9 Wesleyan Cardinals (12–3), who upset the Jumbos with a close 10–9 victory. The Cardinals also defeated the Jumbos in a heartbreaking last-second 12–11 victory in the 2018 NCAA championship quarterfinal.

Despite the lone conference loss this year, Tufts still ranked as one of the three single-loss teams in the top 20 Div. III men’s lacrosse rankings as of May 15. Additionally, Tufts’ almost-perfect record sets them at a conference record of 9–1, good for the best record in the NESCAC directly atop Wesleyan (8–2), Amherst (8–2) and Williams (8–2).

The Jumbos’ dominance in the regular season in the NESCAC did not go unrecognized, as a record-breaking eight Jumbos were selected onto the all-conference team, the most out of any team in the NESCAC.

The Jumbos started the season on a high note, and by the end of spring break, the team held an undefeated 8–0 record heading into its NESCAC conference-game stretch. By this point, the relentless Jumbo offense was flawlessly executing its dominating style of play, scoring an average of 18.4 goals and outscoring its opponents by an average margin of 7.9 goals. Tufts solidified the end of this eight-game stretch with a convincing 25–12 win over Trinity.

Though fans and pundits alike focused on Tufts’ high-powered offense, graduating senior defenseman Arend Broekmate, who was named as a first-team all-NESCAC player, pointed out that the focus of the team wasn’t the high score but rather the aggressive play style of the team.

“We try and judge our play not by a final scoreboard but by what we could have done better as well as [considering] what we did do well,” Broekmate said following the team’s first win against Trinity. “What’s going to drive us forward for the rest of the year is our will to improve on what we do to win those games.”

Although the Jumbos soundly defeated the Connecticut College Camels — who finished the season in the second-to-last slot in the NESCAC — by a whopping score of 24–6 on March 30 to mark the largest margin of victory win for the team under coach Casey D’Annolfo, the Jumbos soon entered their most difficult stretch of the season as they faced five teams in the nation’s top 15, starting with the then-No. 13 Williams College Ephs.

The Jumbos survived a 15–14 contest against the Williams Ephs on April 3, only to be upset three days later by the Wesleyan Cardinals in a similarly close 10–9 bout, ending the Jumbos season-long win streak of 10 games.

Following the defeat at Wesleyan, Tufts bounced back in spectacular fashion, closing out their regular season with five straight NESCAC wins. Tufts emerged from its NESCAC battles with a 3–1 record against the other top 20 nationally ranked NESCAC teams, consisting of Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan and Bates. Three out of these four battles were determined by a single point.

D’Annolfo explained what the mindset of the team is in performing in these tight situations, and how experience in these situations may help the team in the future.

“I think the more you [perform in the clutch], the more you feel comfortable doing it, especially when you come out on the right side of it,” D’Annolfo said. “But I think as we start to get closer to playoff time, I think our guys are starting to get more mentally locked in.”

Now, the Jumbos must focus on preparing to meet their goal of returning to and dominating in the NCAA tournament. Following a 24–7 blowout over New England College in the second round of the tournament after receiving an initial bye, Tufts demolished unranked Stevenson 19–4 on Saturday, May 11. Tufts faced No. 7 Amherst in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday, falling to the Mammoths 13–11 in what could only be defined as a proboscidean affair.

Women’s lacrosse

This spring, the Tufts women’s lacrosse team capped off one of its most decorated regular seasons in a decade. Boasting a 16–2 record and holding steady at a national rank of No. 4, the Jumbos received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, including a first-round bye. The team faced Plymouth State on May 12, which it dominated in an 18–0 annihilation. Tufts will face The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on May 18 in the third round.

Earlier in May, Tufts made one of its deepest runs in the NESCAC tournament in recent years, though it fell just one point short of winning its first ever conference title. On May 5, the Jumbos faced the Middlebury Panthers — the only team that had previously beaten them this season — in the NESCAC championship game. In the second half of the game, Tufts jumped out to a three-goal lead, and with just over five minutes left in regulation, the Jumbos held a 9–8 lead. The Panthers pulled out a scrappy win in the final minutes of the game, scoring a pair of goals to end the game at 10–9 and trouncing the Jumbos’ title hopes.

“Middlebury is a tough team to beat, and coming off of our loss to them in the regular season, we had a new game plan and we were ready to go,” senior defender Maddy Schwartz said. “We actually played a lot better than the first time despite not having the outcome we wanted.”

In order to reach the NESCAC championship final, the Jumbos had to pull out two wins over the Trinity Bantams and the Wesleyan Cardinals. Last season, the Bantams downed the Jumbos in the NESCAC quarterfinals, but the team made sure that it got its revenge this year, dominating the Bantams in a convincing 12–5 win.

The entire regular season was a stream of impressive victories with dominant scorelines. One of Tufts’ closest games came against TCNJ — which reached the final four in the 2018 NCAA tournament — where Tufts escaped with a 8–7 victory. Later in the season, the Jumbos hosted the Amherst Mammoths, who they lost to last season, and managed to hold them off for a close 14–12 win. In the second to last game of the regular season, Tufts hosted Bowdoin and came back from behind to push the game to overtime, where junior attacker Emily Games nailed the sudden death goal for a thrilling 14–13 victory.

“The collective buy-in from the team has really shifted to process-driven motivation versus outcome driven,” graduating senior Courtney Grygiel said. “The people on the team are intrinsically motivated to go out and get better versus having to be asked to do something, which is definitely something that has shifted between when I was a [first-year] and now.”

The Jumbos’ performance did not go unnoticed, with the team sweeping all four available all-conference accolades. Beyond that, the Jumbos have set a new team record for the most goals scored in a season with 297 as of May 12, which was previously set by the 279 goals completed by the 2009 team that earned the team the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC championship that year. They have also exceeded the most number of wins in a season with 17 so far.

Ten seniors graduate this month, all of whom have provided significant leadership to the rest of the team and left their mark on the program over the last four years. Graduating senior attacker Dakota Adamec will go down as the 10th highest point scorer in the team’s history with 174. The Katonah, N.Y. native has amassed 138 goals and 36 assists over 62 games as of print.

Also in the attack, Grygiel anchored the offensive unit from behind the net, resulting in her leading the team in assists with 16 this season. In the midfield, graduating senior Annie Sullivan was a force to be reckoned with, providing solid defense while also catching her opponents by surprise with long-range shots on goal. She has tallied 73 goals and 13 assists over her career.

Graduating senior defenders Hedy Veith and Schwartz commanded the defensive unit, causing 61 and 21 turnovers, respectively, in their careers. Veith, Adamec and Sullivan are repeat all-NESCAC honorees, and Schwartz was named as a Div. III finalist for the 2019 One Love Foundation YRL Unsung Hero Award. In goal, Audrey Evers played in 69 games for the Jumbos, and this year was Evers’ best yet, with an 8.20 goals against average and a 100% win rate.

The team is stronger than it has ever been before, largely due to its immense depth. Despite the large graduating class, there are waves of underclassmen who are more than ready to step up to the challenge next spring.

Sailing

The Tufts coed and women’s sailing teams have had very successful seasons with many team highlights to cherish and various accomplishments to look back on in regard to the 2018–2019 year.

In the fall, the coed team placed 15th overall at the Fiske-Harriman-Sleigh Trophy Coed Showcase at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. Despite the weather proving to be unfriendly to the sailors on the second day of competition, the team still had a rewarding finish to its season. Another season highlight was rising sophomore Abbie Carlson’s talented finish in Michigan at the Women’s Singlehanded Nationals, where she placed 13th.

The spring season of the Tufts coed sailing team culminated at the New England Dinghy Coed Championship, a NEISA district championship, hosted at NESCAC rival Bowdoin. The Jumbos earned seventh place overall with 105 points, just a point above the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s 104 points. Both Jumbo squadrons qualified for nationals, with the women’s team qualifying for the second time in as many years.  

Rising junior Lindsay Powers described how hard it is for both coed and women’s teams to enter into nationals.

“Sailing is not a division sport, and there are few schools with the resources to build a sailing team,” Powers said. “Our district by nature is extremely competitive because the schools in it have very competitive sailing teams. Qualifying for women’s [nationals] was sick because on the qualifier it was very breezy — we were seeing puffs up to 25 knots and lows at 15 knots — and the shifts were complicating.”

Rising junior Jacob Whitney explained how the team selects those who will compete at nationals.  

“Not everyone will compete at nationals. I think only 10 people are going to compete,” Whitney said. “This past weekend, we sent our best sailors to the regatta, and we also accommodated for the forecasted conditions of that regatta. For example, if light winds are forecasted, we send in the lightweights, and if stronger winds are forecasted, we send in the heavyweights. The team plans to send the same people to nationals. I could be there, but it depends if they need another heavyweight or not.”

This past weekend, graduating senior co-captain Ian Morgan’s fellow senior sailors chose him for the Senior Award,, which praises the sailor who has demonstrated the most skill and sportsmanship over the past four years. To many of the sailors, Morgan is considered as one of the most valuable sailors on the team, as explained by rising junior Evan Robison.  

“In my personal opinion, the standout player overall is Ian Morgan,” Robison said. “He’s been competing at a high level for all four years, and he did super well this year.”

To Powers, Morgan’s award was a season highlight. In addition to Morgan’s impressive skill as a sailor, Morgan was also a natural team leader.

“Morgan was one of the most talented sailors coming in and one of the most dedicated sailors on the team,” Powers said. “He radiated positivity, inspired the team to do better, and has led by example. It was definitely a highlight for the team. He has been sailing A-level events all four years here, which shows his talent. It was great that he was acknowledged for his efforts.”

The rising sophomores are deserving of attention as well, as they comprise 29 of the total 63 sailors on the team. Whitney gave praise to their efforts over the season.

“I think [a] year in college has helped the first-years.” Whitney said. “They are some of the best first-years in the country at the moment. We recruited them knowing that they were the best high school sailors. The prospects of the team look really, really good over the next two years.”

The women’s and coed sailing teams will be back on the water at the National Championships in Newport, R.I. from May 20–31, following graduation.

Softball

The Tufts softball team had another successful season in spring 2019, dominating its way to an impressive 32–10 record. In its NCAA Regional final against Eastern Conn. State on May 13, Tufts fell 5–1, ending a season that included a NESCAC East Pennant and the NESCAC title. It was the team’s second NCAA Regional final appearance in as many years.

The Jumbos faced the Williams Ephs in the last hurdle for the NESCAC title on May 5. While the Jumbos hadn’t faced the Ephs in the regular season, they came out swinging with a three-run first inning. This hot start was all the action the Jumbos’ bats would see throughout the rest of the game, going hitless for the remaining six innings and relying on the pitching of their perennial ace, rising junior pitcher Kristi Van Meter, to protect the lead. Van Meter allowed two earned runs on seven hits through seven dominant frames to win the NESCAC title by a 3–2 scoreline.

On their annual spring break trip to Florida, the Jumbos went 13–2, and in the Northeast portion of their schedule, they captured an impressive 14–6 record.

The Jumbos didn’t lose a series until their regular-season-closing doubleheader against local rival MIT, who wore down the Jumbos for two, tightly contested 2–1 and 2–0 victories. Entering NESCACs, however, the Jumbos showed no sign of letting these last two defeats slow the momentum that they had been building all season.

Tufts earned a hardfought 2–0 victory over a tough Middlebury team in the quarterfinals before dispatching Trinity 6–2 in the semifinals. The Trinity win brought Tufts against fellow NESCAC rivals Williams, a school that had beat Tufts’ graduating seniors when they were first-years in the 2016 NESCAC final. For this group of girls, who had earned the nickname “The Funk,” nothing was more exciting than getting a chance to take revenge, as their story came full circle four years later.

“This team has been special. We have such a dominant pitching staff and such depth in the hitting lineup,” graduating senior infielder/catcher Christian Cain said. “What’s great about our team is that if one person isn’t having their best day at the plate, someone else is going to pick them up. It’s really a team effort.”

While the Jumbos featured a balanced attack on both sides of the ball, rising senior third baseman Jamie Stevens and Van Meter consistently stood out, with Van Meter earning first-team all-NESCAC honors following the Jumbos’ NESCAC title, the 14th in program history.

Ranked as the sixth-best pitcher in the NESCAC, Van Meter has posted a league-high 13 wins with a dominant 1.55 ERA. Hitters who faced her this season could only muster a .165 batting average, which helped earn Van Meter two NESCAC Player of the Week awards.

Men’s tennis

The No. 19 Tufts men’s tennis team’s season culminated in securing a spot in the NESCAC tournament for the first time in two years. The Jumbos rallied hard against No. 6 Middlebury in the NESCAC tournament quarterfinals, but ultimately fell 5–3. Tufts split its final two regular season matches against No. 8 Bowdoin, losing 7–2, and Bates, winning 8–1, registering an 8–9 overall record and 4–5 NESCAC conference mark.

Coach Karl Gregor detailed the team’s improvement and focus on improving its doubles game as crucial to this year’s success.

“The biggest thing I was focusing on ways to improve our doubles,” Gregor said. “We spent a considerable amount of time on doubles and were way over .500 in doubles this year. It really helped in getting us momentum.”

The Jumbos were a young, talented squad this season lead by lone graduating senior and co-captain Ross Kamin. Ten out of the 16 players are rising sophomores or juniors. Though showing promise, Tufts was unable to break past in its matches against top 10 opponents, going 0–7 against the est teams in the country. Among those matches, the Jumbos suffered two close losses to then-No. 7 Wesleyan and then-No. 10 Williams, falling 5–4 in the final sets in both matchups.

After being so close to pulling off the upset several times, Gregor voiced some of his disappointment.

“Just the way the conference shaped up — we didn’t beat anyone above us, and we didn’t lose to anyone below us,” Gregor said. “So, I look at it as a bit of down year. I think we really should have had three more wins this season over [California Institute of Technology], Williams and Wesleyan.”

In the NESCAC tournament quarterfinals on May 3, the No. 6 seeded Jumbos built a 2–0 lead after notching victories at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles against the No. 3 seeded Middlebury Panthers. Middlebury responded with a victory at No. 1 doubles and by winning four of the five next singles matches to hand the Jumbos a 5–3 loss. Tufts lost to Middlebury by a similar scoreline, 6–3, earlier in the regular season on April 13.

On April 24, Tufts beat Bates 8–1 at home to claim the last spot in the NESCAC tournament. After Tufts tallied wins at No. 1 doubles and No. 3 doubles, the duo of rising sophomore Paris Pentousis and rising senior Zach Shaff rallied for an 8–4 win at No. 2 doubles.

Shaff revealed the challenge of dealing with high winds and the key tactics behind their win.

“The biggest thing today was dealing with the wind,” Shaff said, commenting on the Bates win. “That was a big factor. It was also my first time playing with Paris, so … doing the little things like serves and returns were a big part of our win today. Then we just stayed strong mentally and got that break to go up 5–3, and we just finished it out from there.”

After Tufts established a 3–0 lead, rising junior Boris Sorkin, the No. 3 ranked singles player in Div. III, swept Josh Quijano 6–0, 6–0 at No. 1 singles to extend Tufts’ advantage to 4–0.

Shortly after, rising junior Carl-Herman Grant clinched the win and postseason berth for the Jumbos in straight sets at No. 4 singles against Jacob Eisenberg, 6–2, 6–1. Grant stayed tight to the baseline and struck the ball early to push his opponent off the court throughout the match.

The Oslo, Norway, native later reflected back on the victory.

“It feels awesome,” Grant said. “Last year we were in a similar position with playing Bates for a position in the NESCACs. We didn’t have our day last year, but this year was different. It was on our courts, and we came out knowing what we had to do, and we executed perfectly. It feels amazing.”

Nearly the entirety of this season’s starting lineup consisted of talented, yet young, underclassmen. Sorkin anchored the team at the top of the lineup, while Pentousis and Gorelik have also stepped up at No. 2 singles and No. 3 singles, respectively. Rising sophomore Jack Moldenhauer also starred in the No. 5 and No. 6 singles spots throughout the season.

Looking ahead to next season, it will be exciting to spectate as this wave of talented underclassmen matures with more experience and practice.

Still, the team will miss the leadership of Kamin, the squad’s sole senior, who left everything on the court after going 2–0 on his Senior Day against Conn. College on April 20. The team will likely look toward rising senior Ethan Bershtein, who co-captained the team alongside Kamin as a junior, as this season comes to a close.

Women’s tennis

The Tufts women’s tennis team broke even in the 2018–19 season, finishing in ninth place in Div. III with an overall record of 8–9 and a 5–4 record in NESCAC play. Though the Jumbos lost to the Amherst Mammoths in the first round of the NESCAC Championship, the team managed to qualify for NCAAs with a 5–0 victory over the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks. Tufts’ season came to a close in the second round, however, when it lost to Middlebury by the same 5–0 scoreline.

“This year we’ve really grown together as a team,” rising senior Kat Wiley said, before NCAA play began. “I’m personally looking forward to seeing everything that each member is able to accomplish. We have a lot of talent, and I think we have a good shot at finishing the season on a strong note. Most importantly, this year has been so much fun, and we really enjoy playing and competing together.”

The addition of four talented first-years to the squad immediately bolstered the team’s potency. Rising sophomore Maggie Dorr started and ended the year playing No. 1 singles and doubles, having an immediate impact in her first season with the Jumbos. Rising sophomore Caroline Garrido paired up with Dorr to create a competitive No. 1 doubles team. Rising sophomore Nicole Frankel claimed the No. 6 singles spot for many of the matches of her first season, and rising sophomore Anna Lowy contributed to No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles.

“My first season with the team has been amazing,” Dorr said. “We are all super supportive of each other and have a great dynamic as a team. I’m very excited to see what the end of our season has in store.”

The Jumbos had two major wins this season that helped secure their spot in the top 10 teams in the country. At the end of March, No. 9 Tufts matched up against No. 10 Williams at Whittier College. The Jumbos beat the Ephs by a close measure of 5–4, defeating Williams for the first time since 1991 and ending a 35-match losing streak.

Tufts’ second decisive win over a top-10 opponent came over No. 8 Brandeis at home in early April. Garrido played phenomenally, dropping only one game while playing No. 4 singles. In addition, Tufts won all three doubles matches. Rising junior Patricia Obeid, playing No. 3 singles, also had an impressive performance, beating graduating senior Keren Khromchenko 6–4, 6–2 to secure the win for Tufts.

Tufts ended its regular season on a tough note, losing to Amherst and MIT 6–3 and 5–4, respectively. Although the team was eager for revenge, it lost against Amherst at Middlebury in the first round of the NESCAC tournament on May 3.

Prior to the NESCAC tournament, Wiley mentioned the team’s excitement heading into the postseason.

“We’ve had a strong season so far,” Wiley said. “We are all super excited to head into NESCACs and hopefully make it to NCAAs. This team has come so far this season, and we really build each other up. I have a good feeling about this one.”

Looking forward to their 2019–20 season, the Jumbos will be graduating two valuable seniors, Tomo Iwasaki and Otilia Popa. Luckily, the team is comprised almost entirely of rising sophomores and juniors, a major strength for the Jumbos’ future.

“I have no doubt that the underclassmen will step up to the plate next season,” Wiley said. “All of our new players have had amazing seasons, and we’re all super excited to see them continue progressing next year.”

Men’s track and field

This spring, the Tufts men’s track and field team had another impressive season littered with incredible individual performances and high-placing team finishes.

On May 11, the second and final day of the All-New England championships, Tufts finished ninth amongst a field of Div I, Div. II and Div. III teams. The Jumbos’ 33 points were only one shy of the highest-placed Div. III team, the Middlebury Panthers. The event served as a jumping-off point for the NCAA Championships, where multiple athletes will compete between May 23–25 in Geneva, Ohio.

On May 4, the team concluded its New England Div. III championship performance hosted at Williams College. After a series of strong finishes, including a first-place finish in the 4×800-meter relay, Tufts left the tournament with a total of 89.5 points, good for second place. Tufts’ only other first-place finish of the meet came in the men’s long jump decathlon, where rising sophomore Ben Stein won the event with a 6.61-meter leap.

Tufts had a similarly great showing in the NESCAC Championships, hosted by Middlebury on April 26, where the Jumbos clinched second. Graduating senior Josh Etkind, rising senior Kevin Quisumbing and rising junior Matt Manteiga all took home conference titles in their events.

At the NESCAC championships, Etkind won the 110-meter hurdles for the third consecutive year in 14.82 seconds, Quisumbing won the shot put with a 14.44-meter effort and Manteiga won the long jump with a 6.95-meter mark. Along with these first-place finishes, graduating senior Anthony Kardonsky broke the school record in the 100 meters with a time of 10.70, beating the time of 10.71 set by Blake Coolidge (LA ’17) in 2017.

In total, Tufts accumulated 143 points at the meet and finished behind host Middlebury, who earned 201. This was the third time in four years that Tufts has finished second at the NESCAC Championships, a testament to the consistency the team has developed over the past few years.

The Jumbos started their outdoor season over spring break in California, where they competed in a number of meets across San Diego, including the Ross and Sharon Irwin Collegiate Scoring Meet, the 41st Annual Aztec Invitational and the Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) Collegiate Invitational.

The team placed fifth at the Ross and Sharon Irwin Collegiate Scoring Meet and second at the PLNU Collegiate Invitational. The Aztec Invitational, a decathlon, was the next competition, in which only Stein competed, finishing in an impressive fifth place.

After spring break, the Jumbos returned back to Medford to compete in the Snowflake Classic at Tufts on March 30. Tufts finished in second place at the meet, just behind RPI. Tufts earned 151 points on the day while RPI had 171.5.

Continuing their streak of good finishes, the team then came in second place at the MIT quad meet against MIT, Bates and RPI on April 6, again narrowly being edged out by the first-place team. MIT earned 190.5 points while Tufts earned 185. The team finished out the regular season by placing fifth at the Silfen Invitational at Connecticut College and first at the Sunshine Classic held at Tufts’ Dussault Track.

The Jumbos were satisfied with how their season went as a whole.

“I think it’s safe to add this year to a list of successful seasons,” graduating senior Henry Hintermeister said. “We did not accomplish all of our goals, but I think at the end of the day, we enjoyed even the disappointments because we were out doing what we loved with people we respect and care about, and that’s all you can really ask from a season.”

Though many athletes’ seasons are done, many members of the team will continue their quest for NCAA glory in Geneva, Ohio, on May 23–25.

Women’s track and field

The 2019 women’s track and field team’s outdoor season was characterized by the hard work and dedication that each individual member brought to the table, improving the overall performance of the team. While the 60-person team is divided among its respective events, the team is united under coach Kristen Morwick.

Morwick has been with the program for 19 seasons. Apart from the extensive coaching staff, the team benefits from the leadership of graduating senior co-captains Trisha Blumeris, Brita Dawson, Evelyn Drake, Kelsey Tierney and Jennifer Jackson, who work to make sure that the team functions as a cohesive unit. Although track and field is a highly individual sport, the team’s strong sense of community keeps athletes motivated and driven to succeed.

Following the success of the indoor season, which saw Tufts finish third at the New England Div. III Championships behind Williams and MIT, the team looked toward a prosperous outdoor season, which culminated in a long championship season.

On May 10 and 11, the team finished 29th among a field of Div. I, Div. II and Div. III teams in preparation for the NCAA Championships.

On May 3 and 4, the team competed in the New England Div. III championships hosted at Williams College. Tufts finished 13th at the meet, with a victory in the 4×800 meter relay. The 4×800-meter relay team of rising senior Lauren Diaz, graduating senior Julia Noble, rising sophomore Hannah Neilon and rising senior Rhemi Toth finished with a 9:09.79 time, more than five seconds faster than runner-up Bates, setting a new school record in the event.

The team finished fourth at the NESCAC championships held on April 27 at Middlebury College, landing just outside of its goal of finishing in the top three. With a team score of 93.5, Tufts was edged out by third place Bowdoin who finished with 109 points, second-place Middlebury with 145.5 points and first-place Williams, who collected 165 points at the meet.

Tufts braved rainy weather and high winds at the Sunshine Classic on April 20 to emerge victorious, as rising senior Alina Strileckis posted the season’s top performance in the 100 meters, graduating senior Sydney Ladner swept the pole vault competition, rising junior Olivia Schwern, rising senior Raquel Whiting, graduating senior Kylene DeSmith and Strileckis topped the leaderboard in the 4×100 relay, and rising junior Jacqueline Kirk set a PR in the high jump.

On April 12 and 13, the team forged through the Silfen Invitational at Conn. College with a third-place finish, closing the week with a first-place victory at the Sunshine Classic on April 20. The Silfen Invitational and the Sunshine Classic brought forth numerous season-best performances, with Tierney, Toth and DeSmith each achieving national top-15 marks in their events.

The team carried its momentum from the Snowflake Classic on March 30, where it placed first out of 20 teams, into the following weekend, where it faced MIT, Bates and RPI in the MIT-hosted quad meet. Tufts won the meet, beating runner-up MIT by a narrow four points. The Jumbo victory brought an end to MIT’s four consecutive victories at the quad meet in as many years.

For some members of the team, the outdoor season began on March 15 with the Alan Connie Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The meet continued the team’s trend of opening the outdoor season in the South, having opened the 2017–18 outdoor season at the Sheraton UNF Spring Break Invitational in Florida.

The Shamrock Invitational showcased the strength of the first-year class, with standout performances from rising sophomore Hannah Neilon in the 400 meters and the 4×400-meter relay, where she competed with a rising-sophomore squad of Tara Lowensohn, Luana Machado and Julia Worden.

The first-year class was important to the team’s success in the outdoor season, making key contributions across the board.  

“The [first-years are] some of our best athletes in a lot of events,” Toth, who was presented with All-NESCAC honors for her performance in the 4×800 relay, said. She will represent the Jumbos at the NCAA championships  in Geneva, Ohio, on May 23–25.


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