MEDFORD – The continued success of the Tufts Athletics programs was once again apparent on Thursday as the Jumbos varsity athletics program finished a best-ever third in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Division III standings for 2016-17. Sixteen teams earned NCAA berths this year and scored points for the Jumbos.
The final point totals were released on Thursday. The Jumbos were second at the conclusion of the fall season, and moved back to third place after the winter sports finished. With five different spring teams making NCAA runs, the Jumbos maintained their third place standing in the final standings.
This year’s third place improved upon last year’s fourth place finish, which was the best in program history. The Jumbos finished in sixth-place in 2005-06 and 2009-10, which prior to the last two years, was the best since the Directors’ Cup began in 1995-96. This marks Tufts’ fifth straight year in the top ten and ninth overall.
The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s NCAA finish in up to 18 sports—nine women’s and nine men’s. The NCAA’s Division III includes more than 400 schools.
The men’s soccer team’s second national championship this fall led the Jumbos this year, as they collected 100 points for the win. Field hockey and women’s basketball’s runner-up finishes collected 90 points apiece for Tufts.
Five fall teams scored 365.50 points for the Jumbos this year. In the winter the Jumbos had six teams add 333.50 points, and 227.75 points in the spring came from five different Jumbo teams. The Jumbos finished with 926.75 points behind second-place Washington-St. Louis (1227) and first-place Williams (1335.25).
In the fall the Jumbos got points from head coach Josh Shapiro’s national championship men’s soccer squad. Head Coach Tina McDavitt-Mattera’s field hockey team fell in a double overtime thriller that went to penalty strokes to finish as the second best team in the nation. Volleyball was led by head coach Cora Thompson, and the Jumbos hosted and won an NCAA Regional to advance to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time since 2009 and collect fifth place points. Head coach Kristen Morwick’s women’s cross country finished eighth at the NCAA Championship meet and men’s cross country, led by head coach Joel Williams, collected points for a 33rd place finish.
The winter was just as exciting, with head coach Carla Berube taking her team to the “Final Four” for the fourth straight year, and collecting second place points after falling to Amherst in the national championship. Head coach Bob Sheldon was back in the NCAA Tournament again, guiding his team to a ninth place finish, as the Jumbos ended up falling to eventual national champion Babson in NCAA Tournament play. Williams’ men’s indoor track and field team picked up an 18th place finish on the national stage, which was highlighted by senior Tim Nichol’s national championship run in the 5k. Head coach Adam Hoyt led a pair swimming teams to national finishes, as the men finished in tenth place and the women collected points for a 46th place finish. Morwick’s indoor track and field team also collected points in the winter for the Jumbos.
First-year head coach Casey D’Annolfo led the men’s lacrosse team to a ninth place finish in the spring. That was matched by head coach Kate Bayard’s women’s tennis team, who also collected ninth place points in the spring season. Men’s track and field ended up 16th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, while Morwick’s women’s track and field team was led by junior Brittany Bowman who was an All-American all three seasons this year. Head coach John Casey’s baseball team played in an NCAA Regional in Syracuse, N.Y. making them the fifth spring team to collect points for the Jumbos.