Amherst Set to Kick Off NESCAC Championships This Weekend

From a NESCAC Release

AMHERST, MA - The 2008 NESCAC Championships get underway this weekend, with Amherst College set to begin title runs in men's and women's basketball and women's swimming and diving. The swimming conference championships begin Friday at Wesleyan University, while both Amherst basketball teams will host Colby College in quarterfinal action Saturday afternoon. 

Senior Brittany Sasser led the Amherst women's
swimming and diving team to another 8-0 record
in dual meets.
Women’s Swimming and Diving
The 2008 NESCAC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship three-day event begins on Friday, Feb. 22 at the Wesleyan Natatorium with preliminary heats in the morning and championship races in the evening. Williams won last year’s NESCAC crown at home by the slimmest margin in championship history - only 156.5 points - over Amherst, but the Jeffs may be poised to unseat the seven-time defending champ Ephs at this weekend’s meet thanks in large part to the efforts of senior Brittany Sasser (Belmont, MA).

Sasser, who earned Swimmer of the Meet honors for the first time in her career at the 2007 championship, has won the 100-yard and 200-yard Backstroke races at every championship she has participated in. Sasser also owns the championship records for all Backstroke events, and currently holds the top time in the nation in both the 100 and 200. Classmate Lisa Pritchard (Saratoga Springs, NY) will also look to earn valuable points for Amherst in the Backstroke, after winning the 50-yard race at last February’s championship and placing second to Sasser in the 100.

The short-distance Freestyle events will feature a plethora of young talent this weekend, including Amherst rookie Kendra Stern (Albuquereque, NM), who is making her first NESCAC championship appearances in the 50-yard and 100-yard Freestyle races. Kendra, the sister to senior teammate Meaghan Stern, holds the top time in the conference in every Freestyle event she has raced in this season and will be one of many to challenge Meaghan’s two-time defense of the 200-yard and 500-yard titles.

The relay events could play a major factor in deciding the NESCAC championship. Amherst took four of the five championship relays in 2007, missing out on a perfect 5-for-5 after finishing second in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay by 0.14 seconds to Middlebury. The Jeffs and the Panthers were among the top three teams in all five relay events, while Williams placed in the top three in four of five relays.

Competition will get underway each day with preliminary heats at 10:00 a.m. Finals will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, 5:50 p.m. Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $6 per session or $10 for a day pass for adults and $1 per session for children and students. Doors will open two hours prior to the heats and finals. A complete championship schedule along with real-time results will be available at the NESCAC Website.

The Amherst men's basketball team is ready to
claim the fifth NESCAC title in program history.
Men’s Basketball
The 2008 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship begins Saturday with quarterfinal action at the top four seeds. Amherst earned the number-one seed for the fourth year in a row, as the Lord Jeffs will begin their quest for a record fifth NESCAC crown and third in the last four years.

Top-seeded Amherst (22-2, 9-0 NESCAC) locked up the number-one seed a week ago with victories at Connecticut College and Wesleyan. The Lord Jeffs completed the perfect conference slate for the first time since 2004-05 with a 69-58 win over Trinity on Saturday afternoon, snapping a two-game losing streak to the Bantams in the process. Amherst will host eighth-seeded Colby (13-11, 3-6 NESCAC) in first round action.

Colby raced out to a 7-2 start before faltering in the New Year, going 3-6 in the month of January. The Mules have won three of their last four games, including their final two league matches with victories over Bates and Tufts. The lone meeting between these two teams came on Feb. 1 in Amherst, a game where Amherst led by as many as 16 in the first half but had to hold off a late charge by Colby for a 72-66 victory. Saturday’s quarterfinal contest will be a rematch of two semifinalists from the 2007 championship, as the Lord Jeffs cruised to an 82-55 win over the Mules last year. This will be the third playoff meeting between the two teams, with Amherst holding a 2-0 edge.

Quarterfinals - Saturday, Feb. 23 at Higher Seeds
No. 7 Connecticut College at No. 2 Trinity - 3:00 p.m.
No. 6 Williams at No. 3 Middlebury - 3:00 p.m.
No. 8 Colby at No. 1 Amherst - 4:00 p.m.
No. 5 Bates at No. 4 Bowdoin - 4:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, March 1 at Highest Remaining Seed
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed - 2:00 p.m.
Remaining first round winners - 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 2 at Highest Remaining Seed
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.

At 22-2, the Amherst women's basketball team
has had plenty to cheer about this season.

Women’s Basketball
There was plenty of excitement around the NESCAC during the final weekend of the 2007-08 regular season. When the dust settled Saturday afternoon, Amherst College emerged as the top seed in the 2008 NESCAC Women’s Basketball Championship. The Jeffs got the help they needed from Bates and Wesleyan, as both the Bobcats and Cardinals were winners in their respective regular season finales to give Amherst the number-one seed for the first time since the inaugural 2001 championship.

In the midst of the best season in team history, top-seeded Amherst (22-2, 7-2 NESCAC) finished the regular season tied atop the NESCAC standings with Tufts, however the Jeffs have the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Jumbos thanks to a 64-62 win that was the conference opener for both teams on Jan. 18. Amherst stormed out of the gate this season, rolling off a program-best 17-straight victories. Amherst has won three straight games, closing out the regular season on Saturday with a 77-51 victory at Trinity.

Amherst will host eighth-seeded Colby (8-15, 2-7 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals, as the Mules return to the tournament field after missing out on last year’s playoffs. The only meeting this season between the two squads went the way of the Jeffs on Feb. 1, a 71-44 win in Waterville, Maine. Saturday’s quarterfinal meeting will be the first in tournament history for the two teams. Amherst has only reached the conference semifinals on two occasions, most recently in 2005, while Colby has never advanced past the first round.

Both quarterfinal basketball games will feature live statistics and a live audio broadcast. Tickets will be $3 for adults and $1 for students.

Quarterfinals - Saturday, February 23 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Colby at No. 1 Amherst - 2:00 p.m.
No. 5 Bates at No. 4 Bowdoin - 2:00 p.m.
No. 7 Middlebury at No. 2 Tufts - 3:00 p.m.
No. 6 Williams at No. 3 Wesleyan - 3:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, March 1 at Highest Remaining Seed
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed - 2:00 p.m.
Remaining first round winners - 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 2 at Highest Remaining Seed
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.