Men's Winter Break Preview | Squads prepare for serious tests over break
Published: Friday, December 7, 2012
Updated: Friday, December 7, 2012 00:12
While the majority of the Tufts student body will be relaxing at home for the holidays, the members of the men’s sports teams will be coupling that relaxation with a serious period of conditioning and improvement. For most winter athletes, the month-long break is abbreviated by practice and games that start in early 2013.
While many of the teams are looking to use the time off from classes as a stepping-stone to better results come the new year, the break presents a unique opportunity for unity both in and outside of the gym, rink, pool or court.
“For January, we have practice basically every week day from around 11 to 12,” Kyle Gallegos, a junior forward on the hockey team, said. “There are local guys [on the team] around here with houses where we can all hang out. We all get a little bit closer over break with that free time together.”
By the time classes end, the hockey team will have had two weekends of difficult NESCAC play in a row. The vacation will serve as a time to refocus and reorganize, as well as a chance for a team plagued by injuries to recuperate.
The squad currently sits at 3-3-1 with an in-conference record of 1-2-1. The Jumbos, however, are coming off tough losses to powerhouses Williams and No. 11 Middlebury over a weekend during which Tufts allowed 14 total goals and rotated through three different goalies over three periods.
This weekend, they may not get any respite, as the Jumbos will face two more NESCAC opponents — No. 8 Bowdoin tonight and Colby on Saturday.
The team will then return to the rink for its 2013 season on Jan. 5 against SUNY-Canton, which will be followed by a two-week stretch of away games, four of which are against NESCAC opponents, including No. 12 Amherst.
“We’re just continuing to work on improving,” Gallegos said. “We’re working hard in practice and watching a lot of film to see the mistakes we made in the previous weekend to see what we can improve.”
On the other hand, the swimming and diving team will be out of the cold New England snow and into the warm Floridian climate in Fort Lauderdale for the break — though the trip is by no means a vacation. From Jan. 2 to 14, the team will be on a training trip in the Sunshine State, preparing for the rapidly approaching NESCAC and NCAA tournaments.
“We train really hard during this time,” freshman standout Anthony DeBenedetto said. “That’s kind of our peak conditioning.”
DeBenedetto has made quite the impact thus far in his debut season, winning three events at the first meet of the season at Connecticut College, garnering a NESCAC Performer of the Week award in his first week as a Tufts swimmer, and, most impressively, breaking the seven-year-old team record for the 200-meter butterfly with an NCAA “B” qualifying time of 1:52.09. Seth Baron held the previous record for his 1:54.27 mark at the 2005 New England Championships.
Bolstered by DeBenedetto’s strong performance, Tufts has done well in recent meets. The team defeated both Conn. College and Middlebury at the season opener, and placed fourth out of seven at the MIT Invitational. But despite strong performances by juniors Drew Berman and Johann Schmidt, a diver, Tufts was unable to capture the victory in a dual meet at Keene State College.
Among the other teams competing during this winter season are squash and track and field. The No. 29 squash team will head into the holiday intermission with an overall record of 5-4 and a NESCAC record of 0-2.
The team started the season 4-0 before dropping four of the next five to difficult opponents including No. 3 Harvard and the No. 17 Naval Academy, along with in-conference opponents No. 15 Bates and No. 23 Wesleyan. First semester standouts include freshman Aditya Advani, sophomore Elliot Kardon, sophomore co-captain Zach Schweitzer and junior co-captain Jeremy Ho. Tufts will next play on Jan. 19 in a NESCAC matchup at No. 26 Conn. College.
Though the women’s track team is already underway with one winter meet under its belt, men’s track is still waiting for its first contest of the season, which will come on Jan. 12 at the Tufts Invitational. The team will then travel to the Dartmouth Relays the day after in what will surely make for a challengingfirst weekend of competition. Practice will also continue over break as the athletes work to solidify and improve in their respective events.