Jumbo Athletes on the Move
Facing the top competition from around the region, Natalie Bettez, A19, of the women’s cross country team won the all-divisions New England Championship 5K race on October 6 at Franklin Park to lead Tufts to eighth place in the team scoring. And Boris Sorkin, A21, of the men’s tennis team is one of nine Division III singles players in the country to qualify for the 2018 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Cup to be held this week in Georgia.
Bettez recorded the best time of all 168 runners representing Division I, II, and III teams in the race. She clocked a 17:57.85 time, which was four seconds better than Division I Boston College’s Fian Sullivan Sweeney. Bettez is the second Tufts runner to win the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association race. Kathy Whitcomb from Tufts won the inaugural NEICAAA 5K for women in 1975.
According to Tufts coach Kristen Morwick, Bettez was trailing a large pack of D1 runners from BC, Northeastern, and others going into the third mile. However, when they came out of the woods with about 500 meters to go Bettez was first with about a 30-meter gap.
“We were stunned,” Morwick said. “It was awesome!”
Based on her experience with this race in the past, never knowing what kind of competition there will be, Bettez didn’t have any expectations going into the race. Her mindset, she said, was more about the team performance.
“I certainly did not expect to win, given that there are many Division I schools at the meet,” she said. “Even during the race, the possibility of taking the lead didn’t even occur to me until the last mile or so. I went in with an open mind, hoping to race my best. I was thinking of it as practice for later big meets. There is some good competition, so as a team we wanted to get in a good performance.”
The race went out hard, and after the first mile she was in about 20th place. She let the lead pack take it out for a bit, but as the race wore on she saw an opportunity that she was able to capitalize on.
“I was worried about going out too fast, but I felt good so stayed where I was,” she said. “More runners dropped back in the second mile with the big hill, and going into the last mile I was around eighth place. At that point I was feeling pretty good, but I didn’t really think about taking the lead until I found that I was gaining on the lead runners. I passed the front runner with about 1,000 meters to go, and I did my best to hold the lead to the finish. We had a lot of fans come out to Franklin Park, so there was a great cheering squad coming around the finish.”
This was the third race that Bettez has taken part in this fall and she has won all three.
“It is very exciting, and definitely not something I ever would have thought possible when I first started running for Tufts,” she said about winning the All-New England title. “It was a great way to end my last collegiate 5K, and it’s really reflective I think of the improvement we see with so many runners on the team.”
Tufts scored a 222 as a team and accumulated a total time of 1:35:18.67 in the five-kilometer event for their eight-place showing out of twenty-four teams.
Heading to the ITA Cup
Sophomore Boris Sorkin of the men’s tennis team became one of nine Division III singles players in the country to qualify for the 2018 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Cup to be held this week in Georgia.
Four divisions of collegiate tennis (II, III, NAIA, JUCO) will converge on the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, to take part in the 2018 ITA Cup starting on October 11. Sorkin is competing in the Division III singles bracket.
The players will be challenging for the ITA Division III singles national championship. Seeded fourth in the tournament after winning the ITA New England singles title on September 30, Sorkin will face Jack Trondson of Hamline University in the quarterfinals on October 11 at 11 a.m. Trondson defeated Carleton’s Leo Vithoontien, 7-5, 7-6 (9) in the championship match of the ITA Midwest Tournament in St. Peter, Minnesota.
The winner of the Sorkin-Trondson match will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the opening match between number one seed Jonathan Jemison from Emory University and Ethan Hillis of Washington-St. Louis. The loser will drop into a consolation bracket.
Sorkin is enjoying an outstanding fall season for head coach Karl Gregor’s Jumbos. He defeated Bowdoin College’s Jerry Jiang 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the ITA New England final. He also won the A singles title at the Middlebury Invitational.
As a freshman in 2017-18, Sorkin was a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Conference second team selection for the Jumbos.
Director of Athletic Communications Paul Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com.