Top 10 moments of 2018–19 year

Jumbo the Elephant mascot poses for a picture at the Jumbo Days activities fair on April 20th, 2018. Alexis Serino/The Tufts Daily Archives

It has been a stellar year for sports at Tufts. Through the fall and winter of the 2018–19 season, Tufts stands at No. 8 in the Learfield IMG College Director’s Cup competition, which ranks all Div. III schools by their sporting success across all varsity programs. With numerous spring sports still in contention for national titles, Tufts looks to continue its reputation as a Div. III sports powerhouse. Here are 10 of the Tufts Daily Sports staff’s favorite sports moments across the academic year.

  1. Roger Gu wins the National Championship

Rising senior Roger Gu won Tufts’ first swimming title since 1982 at the 2019 NCAA Div. III national championships when he outswam all of his competitors in the 50-yard freestyle on March 20 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C.

Gu entered nationals with a seed time of 19.77 seconds and improved upon it by .08 seconds in the preliminaries for a 19.69 time. Emory University graduating senior Trey Kolleck was hot on his tail, boasting a 19.84 time in the preliminaries. In the finals, though, Gu posted an astounding 19.49 time, while Kolleck could only muster a 19.69. Gu’s 19.49 time eclipsed his previous personal record, the Tufts record and the NESCAC record for the 50-yard freestyle in one of Tufts’ most impressive athletic feats of all time.

  1. Boris Sorkin proves to be the best tennis player in Div. III

For the first time in history, the Tufts men’s tennis team has a national champion singles player. Rising junior Boris Sorkin claimed the 2018 Div. III ITA Cup on Oct. 13, 2018 in Rome, Ga. Sorkin, No. 4 going into the tournament, achieved a three-set victory over second-seeded graduating senior Chad LeDuff of UC Santa Cruz by a score of 2–6, 6–4, 6–2. Despite being undersized compared to many other top singles players in the country, Sorkin has used his mental acuity to wear opponents down in long matches.

  1. Men’s soccer wins national championship

For the third time in five years, the men’s soccer team was the last team standing in the entire Div. III field. On Dec. 1, 2018, at the University of North Carolina, Tufts scored two early goals — one in the second minute and another in the 30th — and held on against Calvin College’s prodigious attack in the second half to lift the trophy.

Rising junior midfielder Calvin Aroh scored off of a deflected shot for Tufts’ first. The second goal was from rising senior midfielder Zach Lane, who headed the ball into the net after a long throw by rising sophomore defender Ian Daly to double the Jumbo lead.

In the second half, Calvin pulled one back after rising junior Biagio Paoletta committed a foul in the box, but it was too little, too late for a team that’s played in four championship games and lost all four of them. Tufts stayed organized and disciplined for the rest of the affair, holding Calvin, the highest-scoring college team in Div. III, to seven shots after it scored the penalty kick.

Its final 18–0–3 unbeaten record is also Tufts’ only undefeated season since the program started to record statistics in 1946. Tufts is only the third school ever to win three national championships in five years, cementing its place as Div. III’s preeminent soccer dynasty.

  1. Field hockey finishes second at NCAAs

After posting 19 wins, appearing in the NESCAC championship and stomping out Hopkins 3–1 in the NCAA Div. III semifinal, Tufts fell 2–0 in heartbreaking fashion to its NESCAC foe, the Middlebury Panthers, in the finals. The Panthers were the Jumbos’ kryptonite all season long: Tufts lost two games all season, both of them to Middlebury. Hoping for redemption after losing to Middlebury in the NESCAC title game, Tufts faltered on the neutral site in Manheim, Pa. in its fourth national championship game in 10 years. With four first-year starters in the 2018 season, the Jumbos are locked and loaded to trample any of their opponents next year.

  1. Women’s swimming dazzles in its best finish since 1990

The Tufts women’s swimming and diving team’s performance in the NCAA championships this year was its best finish since 1990. The team ended the first day of competition in 20th place, but it climbed its way up to reach 16th place on the final day of the tournament to match the team’s finish from 1990. Over the course of the tournament, the team also earned seven All-American finishes and broke six of the school’s records — the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard individual medley (IM), the 400-yard IM, the 100-yard butterfly, the 400-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

  1. Women’s squash makes best finish since 2008

Tufts women’s squash earned its best overall finish since 2008 in the 2018–19 season, largely because of its run in the College Squash Invitational. The Jumbos ultimately fell to the Bates College Bobcats in the Walker Cup championship match 6–3, but they still had a largely successful season. To reach the final, Tufts overcame St. Lawrence College and Franklin & Marshall College, crushing both teams 9–0 and 7–2, respectively. The Jumbos finished the season 12–7 overall and No. 18 in the nation, only two places behind their 2008 No. 16 finish.

  1. Women’s basketball defeats Amherst with buzzer-beater en route to NESCAC title

Tufts’ march to the NESCAC title was marked by a dramatic finish in its semi-final matchup against traditional arch-rival Amherst. As the two teams traded baskets heading into the fourth quarter, Amherst emerged with a 46–45 lead with 24 seconds left on the clock. On the ensuing possession, the Jumbos worked the ball around, and they finally found its way to rising sophomore guard Janette Wadolowski. With just 1.8 seconds left on the clock, Wadolowski sunk her fadeaway jump shot to give Tufts the lead. In doing so, Wadolowski ended Tufts’ seven-game losing streak against Amherst and sent her team to the conference championship.

  1. Women’s lacrosse starts 13–0, sweeps all four All-NESCAC accolades

In an unprecedented performance, the women’s lacrosse team has won all four of the top accolades available in the NESCAC conference. Graduating senior attacker Dakota Adamec repeats as the NESCAC Player of the Year after guiding the Jumbos to their strongest regular season performance in a decade. Graduating senior defender Hedy Veith won Defensive Player of the Year thanks to her leadership and command of the Jumbo defensive unit. Meanwhile, rising sophomore attacker Colette Smith, who only played in 11 games before being sidelined by a hamstring injury, provided such a dominant performance to start the season that she captured the Rookie of the Year award. Finally, coach Courtney Shute, now in her sixth season, shares the Coach of the Year title with Middlebury coach Kate Livesay.

Much of these accolades can be attributed to the team’s tremendous 13–0 start to the 2019 season. The 13 consecutive victories tied the program record which was set by the Hall of Fame team of 1985. The team wrapped up its season with an excruciating 10–9 loss to the Middlebury Panthers in the NESCAC final — the Jumbos fell to the Panthers by the same scoreline in the regular season.

  1. McDonald scores five touchdowns in a game, ties Tufts record

The Tufts football team bears farewell to one of its most prolific offensive players of all time, graduating senior quarterback and co-captain Ryan McDonald, who accumulated more career combined yards than any other player in team history with 6,004 combined passing and rushing yards (4,177 and 1,827, respectively). McDonald capped off his historic career on Nov. 11, 2018, in a game against the Middlebury Panthers. Although the Jumbos held a miniscule 14–13 lead going into the half, McDonald exploded in the third quarter, where he passed for an incredible three touchdowns. McDonald passed for an astounding five touchdowns on the day, tying the school record for the most passing touchdowns in a single game.

  1. Benji Wallace’s 16th-in-the-nation pole vault

On April 6 at MIT, Wisconsin native Benji Wallace pole vaulted his way to a remarkable opening height of 4.45 meters. The graduating senior jumped three heights after that: 4.6, 4.7 and 4.8 meters. The latter height was his personal record, and still good for No. 16 in the nation at press time. He was the last Jumbo to compete, and upon obtaining his personal record, he was met with a lot of support from family, teammates, coaches and friends alike. His dad even flew out from Wisconsin to watch his son perform. At the Div. III New England championships on May 4, Wallace finished fifth in his efforts to qualify for nationals that take place from May 23–25 in Geneva, Ohio.


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