MEDFORD – On the heels of their best-ever second place finish at the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championships, the Tufts University women's swimming team had 10 competitors qualify for the 2019 NCAA Division III Championships coming up in March.
Symbolic of the young talent in the program, it's the first NCAA appearance for each of the Jumbos except senior Colleen Doolan. Making their first national trip will be junior Grace Goetcheus, sophomores Abby Claus, Sasha Fong, Lily Kurtz and Amy Socha, and freshmen Emma Donchi, Mary Hufziger, Jeanette Khowong and Hannah Spencer.
The national championship meet is scheduled for March 20-23 in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Given the amount of qualifiers, the Jumbos could contend for the program's first top-20 finish at Nationals since 1990 when they were 16th.
Socha is the top Jumbo seed entering the meet with the #2 mark in the 200 butterfly (2:01.83). She's also ranked in the top 20 for the 100 butterfly (56.09) and the 500 freestyle (4:58.64). Her time in the 200 fly won NESCAC's, the Jumbos' first conference title since 2014.
The 800 freestyle relay foursome of Goetcheus, Hufziger, Claus and Doolan has the Jumbos' top relay seed of sixth with a 7:28.71 season-best. Tufts is also top 10 in the 200 medley relay where the 1:43.93 mark by Khowong, Kurtz, Fong and Spencer is ranked 10th. The 400 medley relay group of Donchi, Kurtz, Socha and Hufziger is right outside of the top 10 with a #12 ranking (3:48.90). Based on qualifying for those three relays, the Jumbos are also eligible to compete in the 200 and 400 free relays. Relay foursomes are subject to change at the NCAA meet.
Kurtz and Hufziger join Socha as Jumbos to qualify in three individual events each. Both also have individual top 20 rankings for the brown and blue. Kurtz is 17th in the 200 breaststroke field with her 2:20.57 mark. Hufziger is also 17th in the 200 freestyle (1:51.27). Kurtz will swim in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.49) and the 200 individual medley (2:11.62) too, while Hufziger also has the 100 free (51.84) and the 500 free (5:01.84).
Three Jumbos qualified in the 200 individual medley (IM), with Goetcheus (2:05.95) and Claus (2:06.17) joining Kurtz. Fong has a 56.29 seed time in the 100 butterfly, while Claus is also in the 400 IM where she's ranked 21st with a 4:29.19 time.
Doolan, the lone Jumbo All-American on the team's NCAA roster, joins Socha in the 200 butterfly. An honorable mention All-American (12th place) in the event for her freshman season, Doolan has a 2:05.69 qualifying mark in the 200 fly this year.
Sophomore diver Amber Chong has a chance to join her teammates at NCAA's when she competes at the NCAA Diving Regional held at MIT this weekend.