Tufts Daily Sports’ senior profiles

Senior Dakota Ademac, member of the women's lacrosse team, poses for a portrait on Bello Field on May 14. (Ben Kim / The Tufts Daily)

The Daily’s sports section caught up with some of the school’s most prolific senior athletes across the fall, winter and spring seasons.

Dakota Adamec

Dakota Adamec is a Jumbo athlete not to be underestimated. A back-to-back NESCAC Player of the Year and women’s lacrosse’s 10th highest point scorer of all time, Adamec has secured a legacy for herself and the nickname “Lax-y Dax-y” to go with it.

Adamec has been at the forefront of the Jumbos’ ascension to a No. 4 national rank this season. She has started all 51 games that she has played in since her sophomore year, playing in 62 total over the last four years. Adamec has amassed 138 goals and 36 assists as of May 17.

The 2018 season was truly a breakout season for Adamec. She had always been a prominent scorer for the Jumbos, but it wasn’t until her junior season that she reached her pinnacle, scoring 51 goals and adding 16 assists to propel Tufts to NESCAC and NCAA tournament berths. This season, Adamec has scored 40 goals in 17 games so far.

“My junior year all around [was a highlight of my career],” Adamec said. “I came off of a very hard sophomore year. I was very hard on myself. I was in hard classes, and I wasn’t doing well in those or in lacrosse. Long story short: I had a total mindset shift junior year. Getting NESCAC Player of the Year [junior] year and the other awards showed me that if I put in the work … I could do whatever I wanted to do.”

What Adamec wants to leave behind when she graduates is her mentality of always putting in the extra work. She cites a team-wide mentality change over the course of the last four seasons as the main reason for the team’s improvement. Part of her role as one of the team’s senior leaders was to instill that attitude in the younger members, and it has clearly paid off.

“The mentality of what hard work looks like has changed,” Adamec said. “My [first] year, me and one other [first-year] were the only ones putting in extra time every week. The upperclassmen did do that, but not to the extent that all of us are doing now. The team has undergone a mental and leadership change … because there are more seniors, and there’s been a talent shift too.”

While not playing lacrosse, Adamec, who is a biology major, prepared to take the MCAT and did so in March while juggling lacrosse preseason and a full course load. Despite her collegiate career being over, Adamec does not doubt that she will continue to find places to play lacrosse in the future.

Kingsley Bowen

Kingsley Bowen, Tufts men’s swimming and diving’s first-ever NESCAC Swimmer of the Year, wrapped up a decorated four-year career at the NCAA championships in March. The backstroke specialist is a 13-time All-American winner and seven-time All-American honorable mention recipient. He started off his Tufts swimming career with Tufts’ first-ever NESCAC Rookie of the Year award in 2016 after claiming two first-place finishes, two-second places and a third-place finish at his first NESCAC Championship meet.

Three seasons later, Bowen swept all three backstroke races — the 50-yard, 100-yard and 200-yard — becoming a three-time NESCAC Champion in March. He led the Jumbos to a second-place NESCAC finish. Though these three performances weren’t Bowen’s fastest times in any race, he does boast the Tufts record for all three backstroke races, which he set in the 2018 season. Bowen also holds the Tufts record in the 100-yard butterfly, with a time of 48.47, and the 100-yard individual medley, with a time of 52.77.

As one of the team’s captains this season, Bowen took on a more significant leadership role. The team took second at the NESCAC meet and 10th at Nationals.

“A lot of the highlights of my career weren’t the accolades that I won,” Bowen said. “One highlight of my season was leading a super talented team against many other talented teams at NESCACs. That was an experience that I’ve never had before.”

Bowen has also contributed to team relays with staggering success: He took part in the record-holding relay quads for the 200-yard and 400-yard medley relays as well as the 200-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays.

“I would hope that my legacy would be as someone who cares for people outside of just swimming and who is invested in their teammates,” Bowen said.

Ryan McDonald

This year, the men’s football team will lose one of its most prolific offensive players of all time in the form of graduating senior quarterback and co-captain Ryan McDonald. In his three years playing for the Jumbos, the Annandale, N.J., native played in 26 games, where he held an impressive record of 22–4.

By the time McDonald played the last game of his career, he had shattered the Jumbos’ record for the most total offensive yards in a career, with an astonishing 6,004 combined passing and rushing yards (4,177 passing, 1,827 rushing). As a result of his offensive prowess, McDonald leaves Tufts as the Jumbos all-time leading passer with a career efficiency rating of 127.5.

McDonald found his first playing minutes as a sophomore in the 2016 season, where he played in eight games and totaled up to a combined 487 passing yards and 647 rushing yards alongside then-senior quarterback Alex Snyder (LA ‘18).

As a result of the dominating performances by the duo, the Jumbos closed out their 2016 season with a 7–1 record, the Jumbos’ best since 1998.

Following his breakout performance in the 2016 season, McDonald thrived as a leader at the starting quarterback position. As a junior, he broke the Tufts record for the most offensive yards by a player in a season with 2,601 all-purpose yards, including 1,879 passing yards and 722 rushing yards. Over the season, McDonald compiled a total of 15 touchdowns — 11 passing and four rushing.

In his senior year, McDonald led the team as a co-captain alongside graduating senior defensive back/punter Alex LaPiana and rising senior linebacker Greg Holt.

Throughout the course of the 2018 season, McDonald showed no remorse as he tore NESCAC defenses apart, passing for 1,811 yards and holding a jaw-dropping 133.33 passer rating.

On Nov. 11, 2018, McDonald closed out his electric career with a historic five-touchdown performance in a 35–13 takeaway victory for the Jumbos against the Middlebury Panthers, tying the Tufts record for the most passing touchdowns in a game. With his multiple touchdowns, McDonald also tied the record for the most passing touchdowns in a season with 17.

McDonald leaves Tufts as the Jumbos all-time leading passer, completing 369 out of his 622 attempted passes for a 59.3 completion percentage. Accompanying his passing talents, McDonald also possessed an impressive running game, ranking sixth among Tufts’ all-time rushing leaders with 1,827 yards. Coach Jay Civetti, who is going into his eighth season leading the Jumbos, spoke in the fall about the advantages that come with having a running quarterback like McDonald.

“[McDonald] is a tough kid. He’s a great competitor,” Civetti said. “When you have a running quarterback, you feel a little bit of a different kind of pressure on the defensive side of the ball, just because he’s capable of … so many different things.”

McDonald’s historic career was recognized on Dec. 19, 2018, when he was presented with the 23rd annual Joe Zabilski award by the Gridiron Club, cementing his reputation as one of the top offensive players in the NESCAC.

Connor Mieth and Sterling Weatherbie

Graduating seniors goalkeeper Connor Mieth and defender Sterling Weatherbie captained the men’s soccer team to an NCAA title and an undefeated season in 2018. The pair leaves Tufts with an impressive four-year record under their belts, boasting a dominant 59–12–12 run, including four-straight NCAA tournament appearances, the team’s first ever NESCAC title in 2017 and two national championships.

Weatherbie, who started his career at Tufts as a midfielder before eventually moving to right back, provided superb speed, tackling, and aerial prowess on defense. The ex-hockey player marauded into the attack as well: In 79 total appearances and 59 starts, Weatherbie recorded six goals and three assists. After an injury sidelined the team’s veteran starter Matt Zinner (LA ’17) only a few games into the 2016 season, Weatherbie had the chance to step into the defensive role.

Mieth had his breakout season during his junior campaign; he started 12 games, allowing only two goals. One of Mieth’s standout moments was during the 2017 NCAA tournament when he carried the Jumbos through two consecutive penalty shootouts in the second and third rounds. In 35 career games, Mieth recorded 22 shutouts and boasted a 26–2–5 record.

The hard work and humbleness that Mieth, Weatherbie and the rest of the class of 2019 brought to the team will be missed, and the duo hopes that this attitude will remain as part of their legacy. The class of 2019 was the last class that committed to play soccer at Tufts before the team had won any NCAA or NESCAC titles, as they would have committed in 2013 or early 2014. They have experienced the drastic shift from being a middling NESCAC team to the undisputed reigning dynasty of Div. III soccer.

“As we’re leaving, it’s easy to realize that we were by far the least-talented class,” Mieth said. “We make the joke that the team is cutting [its] dead weight this year because the guys coming up underneath us are so talented. Our legacy is that we made sure the team didn’t lose [its] grit or [its] work ethic. We came from a different era than these guys, so we knew it was important to put in extra work rather than resting on our laurels and assuming that we were the best team.”

As co-captains this year, Mieth and Weatherbie took it upon themselves to cement a culture of hard work and grit that made a third NCAA title in five years possible.

“I hope that we’ve left the team with a sense of staying grounded,” Weatherbie said. “We may not have been the best class ever, but we brought something that all of the other classes are going to need to have in order to win again. We brought a will to refuse to lose, which is something that other teams don’t have.”

Neither will be traveling too far away, with Mieth working for Standard Chartered Bank in New York City, and Weatherbie staying locally in Boston to work in commercial leasing for real-estate company CBRE. Both plan to return regularly to support the team through the 2019 season and beyond.

Jac Knapp

Graduating senior guard and co-captain Jac Knapp leaves an impressive legacy behind her, having been integral to Tufts women’s basketball’s glorious recent history. Knapp’s success with the program is multi-fold: She was part of the 2016 and 2017 teams that made a run for the NCAA Championship, and she will leave Tufts with a NESCAC championship to her name. Individually, Knapp also became just the 15th member of an elite 1,000-point club and the first ever Jumbo to be named to the Div. III Women’s All-Star Team.

One of Knapp’s greatest moments with the program is the go-ahead clutch 3-pointer with 32 seconds to go in the Final Four game against St. Thomas in 2017. Coach Carla Berube described Knapp, whose basket allowed Tufts to overturn a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, as having “ice running through her veins.” Knapp also led with a game-high 25 points to end a three-year losing streak in the NESCAC Championship match with a victory over Bowdoin this season, where, according to Berube, Knapp led her team by putting “her body on the line.”

Berube praised Knapp’s commitment and work ethic as well as her love for the game, teammates and program as her defining legacy.

“She’s leaving an incredible legacy of how you go about all those things — your schoolwork, how you treat other people,” Berube said. “You just never had to worry about [Knapp]. She always represented us in the utmost, positive way … She was a terrific leader, someone that any of the younger players could always go to, but just sort of personified what we’re all about: Playing every single practice and drill and game as hard as she could and with great passion and with ‘Jac’ style, which is [with] a smile on her on her face.”

For rising sophomore guard Molly Ryan, having her cousin around helped make her transition to college smoother.

“It was honestly amazing [having Knapp here],” Ryan said. “She made my adjustment here, as well as my teammates, so much easier. She was always there for me, and she’s like an older sister. We grew up in the same town, so she just really helped me with almost everything.”

While Knapp looks forward to giving back to the program as an alumna, it is the bonds she’s formed with her teammates that she’ll miss the most.

“They’re some of my absolute best friends,” Knapp said. “It’s a bit weird thinking that next year I’m not going to be with them nearly as much. I’m definitely going to come back and visit, but I really think, especially after this year, [that] the bonds I’ve made with people [are what I’m] going to miss … the most.”