This Week in Tufts Athletics: March 14 - 20

MEDFORD – It was a big week for Tufts Athletics, and more spring teams are joining the fun this week.  Women’s basketball will be playing in their third consecutive Final Four this weekend.  Men’s and women’s swimming and diving will compete at the NCAA Championships. Men’s and women’s lacrosse are both in action again with NESCAC contests on the schedule.

Softball and baseball open their spring 2016 campaigns on their spring break trips down south this weekend.  Men’s and women’s tennis head west to California to start their spring portion of the schedule.  Coed and women’s sailing will be on the water again this weekend.

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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Saturday vs. Wartburg at 5:00 pm -- NCAA Final Four

--The women’s basketball team will be making its third consecutive trip to the Final Four looking to make program history and bring home a national championship.  The Jumbos topped Albright and Scranton this past weekend to punch their ticket to the Final Four.  This years semifinals will be held at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio on Satuday, March 19.  

--Saturday’s winners will advance to the NCAA Final which will be part of a larger 35th anniversary NCAA women’s basketball championship celebration at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.  Championship week will culminate with five championship basketball games and three national titles decided within a 48-hour period.  It will be the first time in the history of NCAA women’s basketball that all three divisional championships will be decided in the same city and venue.  The Division III national championship game will be played on Monday, April 4 ay 6 pm.    

--Joining the Jumbos in the Final Four are Wartburg (23-7), who the Jumbos will face off with in the national semi-finals on Saturday at 5 pm.  The other semifinal game features a match up between defending national champion Thomas More (31-0) and Amherst (30-1).

--This past weekend the Jumbos first picked up a win over Albright in the “Sweet 16” on Friday night.  Junior Michela North led the Jumbos down low with 17 points and 19 rebounds while senior Maura Folliard turned in 11 points off the bench for the Jumbos.  

--The Jumbos advanced to the “Elite 8” to face of with host and previously undefeated Scranton on Saturday.  After establishing a good lead at the half, the home team came back and tied the score at 45, but the Jumbos showed their guts and pulled away for a nine-point win to get back to the Final Four. Sophomore Melissa Baptista was clutch for the Jumbos, scoring 23 points including an including an incredible five-for-five shooting from three-point territory.

--Wartburg is currently 23-7, was not ranked in the most recent national poll.  But, they didn’t let that stop them.  After falling to Coe in the Iowa Conference Tournament, the Knights received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.  They topped Wisconsin Lutheran College in the first round and then knocked off No. 11 Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the second round of play.  The following weekend the Knights punched their ticket to the Final Four with wins over No. 8 St. Thomas and No. 6 Texas Tyler.  

--Kailey Kladivo is the offensive leader for the Knights, averaging 14.6 points per game and adding 7.6 rebounds per game.  Kladivo hasn’t started a game in the NCAA tournament but turned in 23 points off the bench in the win over Wisconsin-Oshkosh and then 22 points off the bench in the win over Texas-Tyler.  Katie Sommer is helping with 11.4 points per game while Morgan Neuendorf turns in 9.3 points per game for the Knights.

--The other semifinal game pits Thomas More against Amherst.  Leading the Thomas More offense is Sydney Moss, who is averaging 21.8 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game this year, while Abby Owings helps with 15.2 points per game and Nikki Kiernan is averaging 13.5 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 2.8 blocks per game. Thomas More is averaging 92.7 points per game against their opponents this year.  

--But, on Saturday that potent offense will be put to work, as they face the best scoring defense in the country.  Amherst is allowing opponents just 41.9 points per game to lead the nation, with the Jumbos right behind them, holding opponents to 44.6 points per game. The lone loss Amherst has this season came back during the regular season of NESCA play, when the Jumbos edged the Purple and White and broke a 121-game home winning streak.  


--Members of the Tufts men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will compete at the 2016 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships March 16 to 19 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  The women’s team has two swimmers competing, while the men have three swimmer and a diver looking to win a national title this week.

--The four for men’s swimming and diving is the most the men have sent since the 2011 season.  Seniors Michael Winget and Anthony DeBenedetto, along with junior diver Matt Rohrer and freshman Kingsley Bowen all qualified to represent the Jumbos nationally this week.

--Tufts’ trio of swimmers will all compete in both the 100 butterfly and 200 backstroke. Winget and Bowen are both entered in the 100 backstroke, while DeBenedetto will participate in the 200 butterfly as well.  Rohrer is entered in the one-and three-meter diving events.  

--Winget is making his third consecutive trip the NCAA’s.  He placed fifth in the finals of the NCAA 200 backstroke last season, the best finish by a Jumbo in an NCAA swimming event since 1985.  Including that All-American (top eight) performance, he also has two honorable mention All-American finishes (ninth through 16th) in the 100 backstroke last season and the 100 back in 2014.  

--Rohrer also earned his third consecutive berth into the NCAA Championships.  He is a two-timer All-American and two-time honorable mention All-American.  He was sixth in the three-meter and eighth in one-meter at the 2015 NCAA meet.  In 2014, he placed 10th in both events.

--For DeBenedetto and Bowen this will be the first NCAA competition of their careers.  Swimmers are allowed to compete in as many as three events at NCAA’s overall.  For events in which they were not selected as qualifiers, they need to have posted an NCAA B qualifying time during the season.  Bowen made the qualifying list in all three events.  Winget qualified in the100 and 200 backstrokes.  DeBenedetto earned his invitation in the 200 fly.

--Winget and Bowen are seeded third and fourth, respectively, in the 200 backstroke.  Winget won the conference championship with his 1:47.30 time and Bowen was second right behind him at 1:47.34.  DeBenedetto is ranked 32nd in the event (2:00.76), which will take place on Saturday.  On each of the four days of competition at the NCAA meet, the trials begin at 10 am and the finals start at 6 pm.

--Based on their seeds the Jumbos also have the potential to come home with multiple All-American awards in Friday (March 18) 100 backstroke.  Winget is the eighth seed with a 49.13 time from the NESCAC preliminaries.  Bowed is No. 15 in the event with a 49.55 season best. DeBenedetto ranks 15th in the 200 butterfly, where his 1:49.77 qualifying mark was notched in the NESCAC prelims.  That event will go off also on Friday.

--For the 100 butterfly on Thursday (March 17), Bowedn enters as the 16th seed on the strength of a 48.92 finish in the NESCAC prelims. DeBenedetto (50.75) and Winget (51.30) are 41st and 43rd seeds in the 100 fly, respectively.

--Rohrer won his second straight NCAA Regional three-meter diving title this season and was second off the one-meter board at the Regional.  He will compete in the three-meter competition on Wednesday and in one-meter on Friday.

--On the women’s side junior Amanda Gottschalk and freshman Colleen Doolan will swim at the national meet.  Gottschalk will swim in the 200 and 400 individual medley’s as well as the 200 breaststroke.  Doolan will be entered in the 100 butterfly, the 200 butterfly and the 100 freestyle.

--Gottschalk qualified in both the 200 breaststroke and 400 individual medley with her times at the NESCAC Championship meet.  She will be the 11th seed in the NCAA 300 breaststroke with her 2:19.05 time that was runner-up at NESCAC’s.  In the 400 IM, she is seeded 20th with a 4:29.79 time that was fourth at NESCAC’s.  Gottschalk is ranked 42nd in the 200 IM with a 2:07.54 mark from the conference meet.

--Doolan qualified for the NCAA meet in the 200 butterfly.  Her 2:03.77 time which was second at the NESCAC meet is seeded eighth nationally.  She will also swim in the 100 butterfly (57.93) and the 100 freestyle (54.82).

--This is the first year that the women’s team will send team members to the NCAA’s since 2013.  These are the first national berths for both Gottschalk and Doolan.

--On each of the four days of competition at the NCAA meet, the trials begin at 10 am and the finals are at 6 pm.  Gottschalk will start NCAA competition for the Jumbos on Wednesday in the 200 IM.  On Thursday, Gottschalk will swim in the 400 IM and Doolan will be in the 100 butterfly.  Friday will see Doolan in the 200 fly.  In Saturday’s final events, Doolan competes in the 100 freestyle and Gottschalk will swim the 200 breaststroke.  

MLAX: Saturday vs. Colby at 1 pm
What you need to know: The men’s lacrosse team has picked up three wins so far this season, and all three of those have come against nationally ranked opponents.  This past week the Jumbos picked up wins over Keene State and Middlebury, and will look to remain undefeated this weekend with a win over Colby on Saturday.  The Jumbos will host the Mules for their home opener on Saturday at 1 pm.  Seniors Jake Gillespie and Kyle Howard-Johnson both have eight goals and junior Austin Carbone and senior John Uppgren have each scored seven times for the Jumbos.  Colby opened their season with a 11-10 loss to Hamilton, but then picked up a win over University of New England (17-9), before falling to Trinity (9-6) this past weekend.  Michael Colton is the offensive leader for the Mules with nine goals while Kevin Seiler has scored six times.  The Jumbos edged the Mules, 11-9, last year and the last Mule win came back in 2006.

WLAX: Wednesday vs. Cortland State at 4 pm and Friday at Colby at 7 pm
What you need to know: The Jumbos opened their season this past week with a 2-1 mark.  They are currently ranked No. 9 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association national poll, and topped non-ranked Castleton and MIT but fell to No. 4 Middlebury.  Senior tri-captains Caroline Ross and Brigid Bowser have been the offensive leaders for the Jumbos with 12 and 10 goals, respectively, through three games.  Sophomore Taylor Meek has added eight scores to help the Jumbos so far this year.  Rookie Audrey Evers is 2-1 in goal for the Jumbos so far.  The biggest test of the young season will be on Wednesday when the Jumbos host top-ranked Cortland State.  The Red Dragons are off to a 4-0 start this season and during those four games have outscored their opponents 71-24.  Last year when the two teams faced off the Red Dragons picked up a 14-8 win. The Jumbos will look for a strong defensive effort combined with their potent offense to knock off the top-ranked Red Dragons at home on Bello Field.  After the midweek contest, the Jumbos hit the road for their first road game of the season with a trip up to Colby for a night game on Friday.  The Mules are ranked No. 10 in the national poll, just behind the Jumbos, and are 1-1 so far this season.  They edged No. 11 Hamilton, 10-9, but then fell to No. 2 Trinity, 13-3, this past weekend.  Colby won 11-6 when the two teams played last year, and the Mules have a 12-7 advantage in the series. Dana Swaffield has led the Mule offense so far this year with four goals.

BASEBALL: Friday vs. Castleton at 3 pm, Saturday vs. Castleton at 12 pm and vs. MIT at 3 pm, Sunday vs. St. Joseph (VT) at 12 pm
What you need to know: The baseball team kicks off their spring 2016 campaign with the start of their spring trip this weekend.  With four games in three days, the Jumbos will be tested early.  Returning for the Jumbos are sophomore Tommy O’Hara who hit .405 with 42 RBI’s last year for the Jumbos.  Senior Matt Moser hit .345 last season with 39 RBI’s and five homeruns for the Jumbos and classmate Cody McCallum hit .320 last year and will look for a strong senior campaign. On the mound the Jumbos return Andrew David and Tim Superko, two big starts for the Jumbos last year.  David picked up six wins while Superko won five games and both had ERA’s under four. Castleton opened their season at the end of February, and after losing their first three, they rattled off three wins to even their record, 3-3.  They will face off with the Apprentice School on Thursday before facing the Jumbos for two games on Friday and Saturday.  MIT has also started play this season, dropping a game to UMass Boston and then two to Stevens Institute of Technology for an 0-3 start.   The Engineers will face off with Castleton on Friday before taking on the Jumbos on Saturday.  Tufts will round out the weekend with a Sunday contest against St. Joseph (VT).  The Saints are off to a 4-8 start this spring, having started playing games in the middle of February.  They will also face off with the Apprentice School before taking on the Jumbos on Sunday.

SBALL:  Saturday vs. Whitworth at 9 am and Concordia at 11 am and Sunday vs. Whitworth at 9 am and Worcester State at 11 am
What you need to know:  The three-time defending national champions will open their 2016 campaign on their spring break trip this weekend.  The Jumbos have 14 games scheduled for the eight-day trip, starting with a Saturday and Sunday double header this weekend.  The Jumbos lost four-time All-American pitcher Allyson Fournier to graduation but return senior Erica County who was 15-0 with a 1.68 ERA.  Offensively, junior All-American Cassie Ruscz who hit .446 with 13 homeruns returns to lead the Jumbos offense.  Sophomore All-American Raven Fournier will anchor the team behind the plate and add offense as she hit .391 in her rookie campaign.  First up for the Jumbos will be Whitworth, who is off to a 9-3 start this year.  The losses have come against Redlands, and twice against George Fox.  The have six games scheduled before they face off with the Jumbos on Saturday.  The Jumbos will also take on Concordia University on their opening day of play on Saturday.  The Cardinals are 11-5 so far this season, and will have another seven games under their belts before the two teams face off on Saturday. On Sunday after facing Whitworth for the second time, the Jumbos will take on Worcester State.  Sunday will be the Lancers first day of competition, as they will take on NESCAC foe Bates before facing off with the Jumbos.   

MTEN: Saturday vs. Vassar and Sunday vs. Whitman and UC Santa Cruz
What you need to know: The men’s tennis team will open up their 2016 spring schedule this week on spring break.  The Jumbos have seven matches scheduled for the weeklong spring break.  This week, they open with a dual with Vassar on Saturday followed by two matches on Sunday, one with Whitman at 9 am followed by a match up with UC Santa Cruz at 6 pm.  The Jumbos welcome back seniors Nick Cary, Jay Glickman, Rob Jacobson, Roy Peleg and Nik Telkedzhiev this spring, and those seniors are joined by juniors Kevin Kelly, Austen Bendetson and Ben Battle.  But, the Jumbos are young with ten sophomores and freshmen on the roster this year.  Vassar is off to a 2-5 start this spring, most recently falling to NESCAC foe Amherst, 9-0.  Matches with Chapman and Trinity are on the schedule before the Saturday faceoff with the Jumbos.  Whitman is 9-3 so far this spring, with three more matches on the schedule before they face off with the Jumbos. UC Santa Cruz also has a good number of matches under their belts with a 3-3 schedule this spring.  The next time the Banana Slugs take the court will be against the Jumbos.

WTEN: Sunday vs. Pacific @ Malibu, Calif. at 1 pm ET
What you need to know: The women’s tennis team will open their 2016 spring campaign this weekend.  The Jumbos welcome back four key contributors that were abroad this fall in juniors Jacqueline Baum, Conner Calabro, Chelsea Hayashi and Alexa Meltzer.  With four rookies on the team this spring, joined by two sophomores with a year of college tennis under their belts, the Jumbos are young, but do have some experience. The Jumbos didn’t play any dual matches this fall, but played in the ITA Regional Championships and the Bowdoin Invitational. The Jumbos open up spring break play with a Sunday match against Pacific at 1:00 pm eastern standard time.  The match with the Boxers is the first of four matches for the Jumbos over the week long break.  The Boxers are 3-4 so far this spring, and have two matches on the schedule before they face off with the Jumbos.


Mitchell Black, Senior, Men’s Track and Field

Senior Mitchell Black won his third consecutive 800 meter national championship on Saturday at the 2016 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships hosted by Grinnell College.  Black won the race with a 1:52.48 for a 1.19-second margin of victory over Washington University’s Deko Ricketts (1:53.661).  The Jumbo All-American repeated as NCAA Indoor 800 champ, including last year’s 1:51.94 victory, he also added it to his 2015 NCAA Outdoor 800 crown (1:52.57).  


Alexis Harrison, Senior, Women’s Track and Field

Senior Alexis Harrison finished second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.57 seconds at the 2016 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships.  She was the runner-up to Illinois Wesleyan’s Nia Joiner, whose 7.49 winning time is the fastest ever in the Division III 60 meters.  In the preliminaries on Friday, Harrison won by edging Joiner with a 7.55 time to Joiner’s 7.56.  With that time Harrison improved on her own school record and earned the fourth-best 60 meters time in DIII history.


The women’s basketball team picked up two wins this weekend to advance to their third consecutive Final Four.  On Friday night behind 17 points and 19 rebounds from junior Michela North the Jumbos downed Albright, 62-49.  On Saturday, the Jumbos knocked off undefeated host Scranton, 57-48, as sophomore Melissa Baptista scored a game high 23 points.  The Jumbos will now face off with Wartburg in the Final Four this coming Saturday.

The men’s basketball team had a historic weekend at Cousens Gym, as the men hosted NCAA Tournament Third and Fourth round games for the first time in program history.  The Jumbos knocked off Johnson and Wales on Friday night, 101-85, as senior tri-captain Stephen Haladyna and junior Tarik Smith both turned in career-highs in points.  Haladyna finished with 30 points while Smith helped the Jumbos with 25 points in the win.  On Saturday the Jumbos faced off with Amherst for a chance to go to the Final Four, but the Purple and White edged the Jumbos, 86-73.  The Jumbos had one of their best season’s in program history, finishing with a 23-7 mark and an appearance in the Elite Eight.

Senior tri-captain Mitchell Black of the Tufts men’s track and field team won his third consecutive 800 meters national championship at the 2016 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships hosted by Grinnell College this past weekend.  Black’s time of 1:52.48 won the race with a 1.19-second margin of victory. Black won last year’s indoor title and also added an outdoor 800 meter title this past spring.  Classmate Veer Bhalla was also running in the 800 meters on Saturday, but Bhalla fell during the race and finished eighth (2:04.10).  He was running fifth with about 200 meters to go, in a good position to move up, when the runner behind him caught his legs and he went to the ground.  Bhalla was the sixth seed entering the 800 with a 1:52.32 time.  He did earn All-American accolades with the eighth place finish.  It is the second of his career.

Tufts women’s track and field senior co-captains Alexis Harrison and Syndey Smith both earned All-American honors (top eight) at the 2016 Division III Indoor Championships this past weekend hosted by Grinnell College.  Harrison finished second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.57 seconds.  In the preliminaries on Friday, Harrison won with a time of 7.55 which is the fourth-best 60 meters time in DIII history.  Smith placed eighth in the mile run with a 4:56.59 time to take the final All-American spot.  

The No. 9 women’s lacrosse team had a busy week to open their 2016 campaign.  The Jumbos topped Castleton, 23-5, and MIT, 13-9, but fell to No. 4 Middlebury.  Senior tri-captain Brigid Bowser scored six goals against Castleton and senior tri-captain Caroline Ross added five goals and three assists for eight points. Against MIT, sophomore Taylor Meek scored four times, two in each half.

The men’s lacrosse team picked up two wins over nationally ranked opponents this past week.  On Wednesday the Jumbos earned a 21-13 win over No. 19 Keene State behind 15 second-half goals including four by senior co-captain John Uppgren. On Saturday the Jumbos got two fourth quarter goals less than a minute a part to break a 10-10 tie and topped No. 7 Middlebury, 12-10.  Seniors Jake Gillespie and Ben Andreycak were the two fourth quarter game winning goal scorers for the Jumbos.

Junior Juliet Hewes reached the third round in the foil competition to lead the Tufts women’s fencing team’s performance at the 2016 NCAA Regional Championships this past Sunday at Vassar College.  Eight Jumbos overall qualified to compete at the Regional. In addition to Hewes’ efforts, senior Alexandra Boden in saber, senior Julia Malleck in epee, junior Anna Gooch in epee, sophomore Nayab Ajaz in saber, sophomore Bridget Marturano in saber and sophomore Julia O’Gara in foil all reached the second rounds in their weapons.   

CSAILING: With a 16-3 record in all races, the Tufts coed sailing team captured first place at the eight-team Arctic Circle Team Race hosted by the Jumbos on the Charles River over the weekend.  The Jumbos were a perfect 7-0 in the first round with victories over Boston University, Salve Regina, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, MIT, Roger Williams, Rhode Island and Vermont.  Tufts had a perfect 1-2-3 finishes against BU, Mass Maritime and Vermont. All eight teams then sailed another round and Tufts was nearly perfect again with a 6-1 mark.  MIT was the only team to beat them.  The Jumbos had another 1-2-3 finish against Rhode Island. The Jumbos used several combinations amongst nine sailors who competed at the event.  Skippering were junior Scott Barbano, senior James Moody, junior Griffin Rolander and senior Casey Gowrie.  The crews were freshman Ian Morgan, senior Amanda Sommi, junior Liz Fletcher, sophomore Emily Shanley-Roberts and junior Caroline Ambros.

The Jumbos will be back in action this weekend on Saturday and Sunday as they race in the Geiger Trophy Team Race hosted by MIT.  

WSAILING: The women’s sailing team has this last weekend off, but the weekend before they took third of five teams at the NEISA Team Race hosted by Yale.  Tufts had a 9-6 record at the regatta.  Yale won with a 13-2 mark, Bowdoin was second at 11-4, while Connecticut College and Brown were fourth and fifth, respectively.  Sailing for Tufts in three dinghies were junior skipper MaryClaire Kiernan with senior crew Amanda Sommi, junior skipper Kate Shaner with junior crew Julia Fuller and sophomore skipper Molly Pleskus with freshman crew Sabrina van Mell.  

This weekend the women will be back in action this Saturday and Sunday when they race at St. Mary’s in FJ’s and 420’s.