This Week in Tufts Athletics: February 15-21

MEDFORD – It’s a big week for Tufts Athletics with many teams entering championship season.  Both men’s and women’s basketball will host first round NESCAC Tournament games at Cousens Gym on Saturday.  The men’s swimming and diving team will head to Williams for the NESCAC Championships Friday through Sunday.

Men’s hockey wraps up their regular season schedule with two games at home this weekend and will be fighting for a spot in the NESCAC Tournament.  Men’s and women’s track and field will head to the New England Division III Indoor Championships, the men at MIT and the women at Middlebury.  Men’s and women’s squash will both compete in the College Squash Team Nationals this Friday through Sunday.  

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--The Tufts men’s swimming and diving team will head to Williams this weekend for the NESCAC Championships.  The Jumbos have finished fourth at the conference meet for the past three years, and will be looking to break back into the top three this weekend.  The Jumbos finished second for four years in a row between 2008-2011 and then followed that with a 3rd place in finish in 2012.  Williams has won 14 consecutive NESCAC Championships.

--The Jumbos have many top times heading into the conference meet, and should be in a good place to improve on their finish from the last three seasons.  In the freestyle, freshman Brandon Jinn is a top seed in many distance events.  Heading into the conference meet, he has the top time in the 500 yard free, 1000 yard free and 1650 yard free.  Senior Michael Winget has the best time in the conference in the 200 yard free and the Jumbos 800 yard free relay team enters the conference meet with the best time in the country.  The Jumbos also have the second best time in the 200 yard freestyle relay and the third best time in the 400 yard free relay.   

--Sophomore Zachary Wallace has the best time in the 400 yard IM and the Jumbos have the second best time in the 400 yard medley relay and 200 yard medley relay heading into the weekend. Senior Michael Winget has the best time in the conference in the 200 backstroke, rounding out the Jumbos top tops.

--As far as second best times in the conference go, freshman Kingsley Bowen has the runner-up time in the 50 yard butterfly and the 100 yard butterfly, Winget in the 50 yard backstroke and 100 yard backstroke, senior Cam Simko in the 500 yard free and sophomore Lorenzo Lau in the 100 yard free.  

--Junior Matt Rohrer has won a NESCAC title in each of his previous two seasons.  He won the three-meter in 2014 and then the one-meter in 2015.  Sophomore Aaron Idelson will be adding to the mix in the diving events again this year.

WOMEN'S SQUASH at College Squash Association Team Nationals

--The Tufts women’s squash team has been on a roll lately, and they will look to keep that up this coming weekend.   This past weekend the Jumbos topped Wesleyan for the second time in as many weeks, helping them move up to No. 24 in the national rankings which moved them up a division in the College Squash Association’s Team Nationals this coming weekend.  

--This past week the women collected three wins as they topped Boston University 9-0, Wesleyan 5-4 and Vassar 7-2.  The Jumbos have won their last five matches and six of their last seven matches with that lone loss coming to Bates in the opening round of the NESCAC Championships at the beginning of February.

--The Jumbos will be playing for the Howe Cup in the C Division for the first time since the 2011-12 season.  The C Division features teams that are ranked 17th through 24th in the nation.  That would include No. 17 Amherst, No. 18 Bowdoin, No. 19 Bates, No. 20 Hamilton, No. 21 Colby, No. 22 St. Lawrence, No. 23 Wellesley and the Jumbos who are ranked No. 24.

--First up for the Jumbos in the tournament will be No. 17 Amherst. The Jumbos and the Purple and White haven’t faced off since the 2011-12 season when Amherst earned a 9-0 victory.  The Purple and White are 9-5 overall this season, most recently having beaten Bowdoin in the opening round of the NESCAC Tournament but then fell to Trinity and Middlebury.

--If the Jumbos win their match against Amherst, they will play the winner of the Colby and Hamilton match.  If they are not able to beat the Purple and White, they will play the loser of that same match. Bates and St. Lawrence and Wellesley and Bowdoin are facing off on the other side of the bracket.

MBBALL: The last time the men’s basketball team took the court they defeated Williams, and the next time they take the court again they will be facing off with Williams again.  The Jumbos topped Williams, 77-73, last Friday to wrap up their regular season schedule.  With the win the Jumbos secured the No. 3 seed in the NESCAC Tournament and will now host No. 6 seeded Williams on Saturday at 4 pm in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC Tournament in Cousens Gym. The third seed is the highest seed for the Jumbos since 2006 and on Tuesday the Jumbos won their 18th game of the season, which is the most for the Jumbos since the 2005-06 season.

Senior tri-captain Stephen Haladyna led the Jumbos with a season-high 22 points last Friday in Williamstown.  Earlier that week junior tri-captain Tom Palleschi and sophomore Vincent Pace helped the Jumbos earn an 105-98 overtime win over Pine Manor on the road on Tuesday.  Pace is leading the Jumbos with 17.8 points per game (third in the conference ranks) and 6.4 rebounds per game as Palleschi is averaging 14.8 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game (second most in the conference standings) and 3.5 blocks per game this year, a mark that leads the conference by more than a block per game.

The Ephs finished the regular season tied with Wesleyan for fifth place in the conference standings, but a Cardinal win (66-63) earlier in the year gave them the fifth seed and the Ephs the sixth seed. The Ephs will be looking for their fifth conference title, but their first since 2010.  Making their 16th consecutive quarterfinal appearance, the Ephs and Jumbos last faced off in the tournament playoffs in 2014 when the Ephs earned an 87-77 overtime win over the Jumbos in the quarterfinal round.

Daniel Aronowitz is leading the Eph offense with 17.6 points per game, just behind Pace in the conference ranks, and adds 7.6 rebounds per game. Kyle Scadlock is helping with 11.3 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game and Cole Teal has been adding 10.7 points per game.

WBBALL: The women’s basketball team finished their third straight perfect NESCAC season with a win over Williams at home on Friday night.  The Jumbos had earned the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC Tournament, their fourth consecutive No. 1 seed, and have won 16 in a row after falling to Connecticut College in non-league play in early December.  The Jumbos are two-time defending conference champions.

This past Friday against Williams sophomore Melissa Baptista was the point leader with 15 points.  The Jumbos have one player averaging more than 10 points per game this year and that is junior Michela North who is turning in 13.9 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game.  But, it’s the Jumbos defense that has gotten them so far, holding opponents to just 44.3 points per game and making them shoot 32.1 percent from the floor.  Senior tri-captain Emma Roberson is averaging 9.4 points per game and Baptista helps with 9.0 points per game.  As a team the Jumbos are averaging 10.2 steals per game and 5.3 blocks per game.

On Saturday the top seeded Jumbos will face off with eighth seeded Middlebury.  The Jumbos topped the Panthers, 57-37, earlier this season.  And in fact, the last two times the teams have played the score has been the same, 57-37 in the Jumbos advantage. The Panthers are 11-12 this season with a 3-7 conference record.  Recently they have struggled a bit, losing their last five, including a 77-24 loss to Amherst.  The Panthers will have a chance to get back in the win column before taking on the Jumbos as they have a Tuesday night match up against Colby-Sawyer on the schedule. Sarah Kaufman is leading the Panthers with 15 points per game and Catherine Harrison is averaging 11.7 points per game and 11 rebounds per game and 1.5 blocks per game.

HOCKEY: The men’s hockey team has a big weekend coming up.  The Jumbos host Bowdoin and Colby and in addition to celebrating Senior Day this weekend, the Jumbos will be fighting for a spot in the NESCAC Tournament.  The Jumbos could still earn a seed as high as five, but also could be out of the tournament, so this weekend will be important.  The Jumbos will host Bowdoin on Friday night for a 7 pm contest and will then face off with Colby on Saturday at 4 pm.  

This past weekend the Jumbos split a NESCAC weekend, getting edged, 2-1, by Amherst on Saturday night, but then topping Hamilton, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon.  The Jumbos are currently in seventh place in the conference standings, and will be looking to move up in the standings this weekend with a couple of wins.  On Saturday against Amherst, senior co-captain Stewart Bell was the lone goal scorer for the Jumbos with his seventh of the season.  On Sunday against Hamilton rookie David Lackner scored twice to bring his season total up to a team-leading eight goals.  Junior goaltender Mason Pulde played both contests in net for the Jumbos, and Pulde still has the best save percentage in the conference with a .948 mark this season.

First up for the Jumbos will be Bowdoin, a team they beat 2-0 earlier this year.  The Polar Bears season started off a bit rough, as they were 4-5-1 during the first semester of play.  But, recently the Polar Bears have been on fire, winning their last eight and outscoring their opponents 30-11 in that span.  They are currently in third place in the conference standings with an 8-5-3 conference mark and a 12-7-3 record overall this season.  The Polar Bears have clinched a spot in the NESCAC Tournament, but will be playing for the chance to host a quarterfinal game. Most recently they knocked off No. 7 Trinity, and the Polar Bears received some votes in the most recent US Hockey Coaches Online national poll.  Even with the Jumbo win earlier this year, the Polar Bears still have the advantage in the series, 12-5-2, dating back to 1999.

Freshman Cody Todesco is the offensive leader for the Polar Bears with a team-high ten goals and 11 assists for 21 points.  Sophomore Matthew Lison has scored eight times, and freshman Chris Wallace had tallied five scores and 11 assists this season.  In net for Bowdoin sophomore Peter Cronin has gotten the nod in a majority of the games and he has a .945 save percentage, a 1.85 goals against average and a 11-5-2 record this season.

After the contest with the Polar Bears the Jumbos will honor their seniors on Saturday when they host Colby for a 4 pm puck drop.  The Mules are 8-10-4 overall this season with a 5-9-2 mark in NESCAC contests.  The Jumbos and the Mules tied, 2-2, when the two teams faced off earlier this year.   Currently in eighth place in the conference standings and will be fighting for a spot in the tournament this weekend.  The Mules could be a seven or eight seed, or be out of the tournament following this weekend.  The tie between the two teams earlier this year was the third time in the series they have tied, and the Mules have a slight advantage in the series, 10-7-3, dating back to 1999.

Junior Devin Albert is the offensive leader for the Mules with 11 goals and seven assists this season.  Sophomore Cam MacDonald has added six scores as 12 assists while junior RJ Rauseo has scored four times and helped on 11 others.   Sophomore Emerson Verrier has played every single game in net for the Mules and has a .915 save percentage and a 2.60 goals against average this season.

MSQUASH: The men’s squash won four of their five matches last week, and will look to carry that momentum into the College Squash Association’s Team Nationals this weekend.  The men are ranked No. 33 in the College Squash Association’s rankings and will be playing in the for the Chaffe Cup in the E Division.  Playing in that division are the 33rd through 40th ranked teams.   

The Jumbos are No. 33 in the College Squash Association rankings, No. 34 is Connecticut College, No. 35 Haverford, No. 36 New York University, No. 37 Georgetown, No. 38 Fordham, No. 39 University of Chicago and No. 40 Lehigh.  With the Jumbos being the No. 33 ranked team, they will face off with No. 40 Lehigh in the opening round of play on Friday.  The winner of the Tufts and Lehigh match will face off with the winner of the Georgetown and NYU and the losers of those two matches will play as well.  The other two opening matches have Haverford facing off with Fordham and Chicago taking on Connecticut College.  This will be the first time in program history, dating back to 1999, that the Jumbos are facing off with Lehigh.  

MTRACK: The men’s track and field team will begin their championship season this weekend, heading to MIT for the New England Division III Indoor Championships.  The Jumbos have ran some top national times individually this season, and will now look for a team performance this weekend at the indoor championships.

Seniors Mitchell Black and Veer Bhalla have been a force in the 800 meters as Black has the fastest time in the country and Bhalla has the third fastest time in the country.  Black also has the ninth fastest time in the mile, with a 4:12.97 mark. Junior Luke O’Connor has the ninth fastest time in the nation in the 3,000 meters, which he ran at the Cupid Challenge earlier in February.  Classmate Tim Nichols is seventh on the list for the 5,000 meters, and O’Connor is on that list as well with the 12th fastest time in the nation. The 4x400 relay team of sophomore Andrew DiMaiti, freshman Nico Agosti, senior Alex Kasemir and senior Francis Goins has the tenth fastest time, with a 3:20.81 mark ran this past weekend at BU.  The distance medley team of freshman Hiroto Wantanabe, DiMaiti, senior Alex Apostolides and O’Connor ran a 10:18.39 at the end of January at BU, which is the 11th fastest time in the nation.

This weekend at MIT the Jumbos will look to put all of those top performances together to finish at the top of the team standings of the indoor championships.  In the most recent US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rankings, the Jumbos were in ninth place, just ahead of tenth ranked Williams.  The Jumbos were the highest ranked team in New England.  

WTRACK: The women’s track and field team has a similar weekend ahead of them, heading to Middlebury for the Division III Indoor Championships. The Jumbos have also had some stellar individual performances this indoor season, and will look to put that together this weekend for the team championships.

Senior Alexis Harrison ran the seventh fastest time in the nation in the 60 meter dash earlier this season at the Bowdoin Invitational. Harrison also has the 28th fastest time in the 200 meters which she ran last weekend at BU. Classmate Sydney Smith has put herself on the national list as well, with the 21st fastest time in the 800 meters and the 23rd fastest time in the mile. Senior Audrey Gould owns the 12th fastest time in the 5,000 meters as sophomore Brittany Bowman is just behind her with the 17th fastest time.  Gould is also 29th on the list for the 3,000 meters. Senior Marilyn Allen is 23rd on the list for the 60 meter hurdles.

The Jumbos will face some tough competition this weekend as MIT is the top team in the country according to the most recent US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national poll.  Williams was eighth in the poll, as those were the two New England teams that made the top 25.

FENCING: After a small break, the women’s fencing team will get back to action this week in the NEIFC Championships hosted by Wellesley on Saturday.  The Jumbos most recently competed in the Northeast Fencing Conference Meet #3 at Smith on February 6th where they beat Boston University, UMass, New Hampshire and Wellesley, only falling to Sacred Heart.

This Saturday the Jumbos will travel to Wellesley to compete in the NEIFC Championships.  Joining the Jumbos at Wellesley will be Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis, Dartmouth, MIT, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, University of Connecticut, UMass, University of Rhode Island, University of Vermont, Vassar and the host, Wellesley. The Jumbos will be looking to qualify for the NCAA tournament.  

Stephen Haladyna, Senior, Men’s Basketball

Senior tri-captain Stephen Haladyna turned in a season-high 22 points on Friday night to help the men’s basketball team edge Williams and earn home court advantage in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Tournament this weekend.  Haladyna finished the Williams game with 22 points and six rebounds.  On Tuesday the Jumbos edged Pine Manor in overtime, and Haladyna helped with 12 points in that contest.

Mitchell Black, Senior, Men’s Track and Field

We like to spread the wealth with the Player of the Week awards with This Week In Tufts Athletics, but it would be impossible not to acknowledge senior Mitchell Black’s performance in the 800 meters at Boston University’s David Hemery Valentine Invitational this past weekend.  Black was competing in a field of 246 professional and collegiate runners and he won the race with a time of 1:49.32, which edged James Gilreath’s 1:49.33 who ran collegiately at Baylor. Black’s time was converted to 1:50.89 because it was run on a banked track, but with the converted time is still the fastest in the nation by over one second. Black is the defending NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 800 champion in Division III.

Amanda Gottschalk, Junior, Women’s Swimming and Diving

Junior Amanda Gottschalk was the leading performer for the women’s swimming and diving team this past weekend at the NESCAC Championships.  Gottschalk broke a school record and was the runner-up in the 200 breaststroke, finishing with a time of 2:19.05 on Sunday which is an NCAA B cut mark.  On Saturday, her time of 4:29.79 in the 400 individual medley final was a school record and a NCAA B cut time which placed fourth at the meet.  She broke the 13-year old school record of 4:30.58 set by Mika Sumiyoshi in 2003.  Gottschalk’s performance earned her All-Conference accolades.

A win over Williams on Friday night for the men’s basketball team helped them earn home court advantage in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Tournament his coming weekend. Senior tri-captain Stephen Haladyna scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Jumbos in the 77-73 win over the Ephs.  The Jumbos opened the week with a 105-98 overtime win over Pine Manor on Tuesday night.  Sophomore Vincent Pace scored five points in the last 16 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime, and junior tri-captain Tom Palleschi finished with 26 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks in the win.

The women’s basketball team earned their third consecutive perfect NESCAC season with a 62-37 win over Williams on Friday night.  The Jumbos have now won 31 straight conference games overall dating back to 2013.  Sophomore Melissa Baptista led the Jumbos with 15 points on Friday night against the Ephs.

Competing in a field of 246 professional and collegiate runners, senior tri-captain Mitchell Black of the Tufts men’s track and field team won the 800 meters at Boston Unviersity’s David Hemery Valentine Invitational on Saturday.  Black’s 1:49.32 time was run on a banked track, so it was converted to 1:50.89.  Also impressive on Saturday for the Jumbos was junior Luke O’Connor in 5,000 meters as he ran a 14:28.68, which broke the Tufts record of 14:30.47.  The Jumbos also had runners at MIT’s Gordon Kelly Invitational on Satuday, and senior Bryson Hoover-Hankerson broke his own school record in the 60-meter dash.  His time of 7.14 seconds shaved 0.01 seconds off his previous career best which he established as a school record last season.

On Friday at Boston University’s David Hemery Valentine Invitational senior captains Alexis Harrison, Audrey Gould and Sydney Smith all posted times which fall in the range of national top 20.  On Saturday at BU the distance medley relay team ran one of the top times in the country.  The team of sophomore Margot Rashba, senior Marilyn Allen, junior Samantha Cox and senior Sydney Smith combined for a 12:22.18. 

The men’s hockey team split a NESCAC weekend this past weekend.  On Saturday the Jumbos were edged by Amherst, 2-1, as senior co-captain Stewart Bell scored the lone goal for the Jumbos.  On Saturday the Jumbos topped Hamilton, 4-3, using two goals from freshman David Lackner and surviving a late Hamilton come back.  The Jumbos are in seventh place in the conference standings heading into the final weekend of the regular season and will look to secure a place in the playoffs this weekend as they host Bowdoin and Colby.

The men’s squash team won two of three over the weekend, and the Jumbos have now won four of their last five heading into a big weekend at the College Squash Association’s Team Nationals.  The Jumbos had a busy week this week, opening the week with a 9-0 win over Brandeis, adding an 8-1 win over Boston University on Thursday and picking up wins over Vassar and Bard on Saturday.  The lone set back during the week for the Jumbos was a loss to Wesleyan on Saturday.

The women’s squash team has won six of their last seven matches, and picked up three wins this past week.  The Jumbos opened their week with a 9-0 win over Boston University on Thursday.  On Saturday the Jumbos topped Wesleyan, 5-4, for the second time this season, helping them move up in the national rankings and move into a higher division for the College Squash Association Team Nationals this coming weekend.  On Saturday the Jumbos also topped Vassar, 7-2.

Tufts junior Amanda Gottschalk and freshman Colleen Doolan both broke school records, earned runner-up finishes and had NCAA B cut times on the final day of the NESCAC Championships this past weekend at Middlebury.  Gottschalk’s 2:19.05 in the 200 breaststroke smashed the year-old Tufts record of 2:21.94 set by teammate Anna Kimura last season.  Doolan followed in the next event with a 2:03.77 in the 200 butterfly to break a mark of 2:04.74 from 2013.  The second-place finishes earned by both were the best for Tufts at the 2016 conference meet and earned both Jumbos All-Conference accolades. The Jumbos finished seventh overall at the conference championships.