Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 17
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
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SETTING THE PACE: Princeton High boys’ track distance star Zaid Smart leads the way in a race last spring. This spring, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte bound Smart has been rounding into form by setting the pace for less experienced teammates in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200.

Featuring Core of Veterans, Talented Newcomers, PHS Boys Track Overcoming Graduation Losses

Bill Alden

There are certain sports programs like Ohio State football and Kentucky men’s basketball who rarely have down years, exemplifying the philosophy “we don’t rebuild, we reload.”

Princeton High boys’ track head coach John Woodside is getting that feeling about his 2011 squad.

“We were looking at this as a rebuilding year because we lost so much,” said Woodside, whose squad took fourth last spring in the Central Jersey Group III sectionals led by such senior standouts as pole vaulter Gerhard Gengel, quarter-miler Max Reid, distance runner Sean Pradhan, and throwers Omar Yousef and Drew Reifinger.

“But even under those circumstances, this team is good. If it is a rebuilding year, it is the best rebuilding year we have had. There is not a big dip.”

Last Wednesday, the Little Tigers gave a glimpse of their potential as they topped Hamilton.

“We were a bit shorthanded due to vacation and some injuries but we were able to win 83-53,” said Woodside in reflecting on the victory.

“One of our standouts was junior Kevin Ivanov who won the 400 hurdles and 1,600 and was also on the winning 4x400 relay. Eric Shorter won the 100, high jump, and long jump. Bruce Robertson won the 800 and was on the 4x400 relay. Nick Gillette did 124’8 to win the javelin.”

Even though senior star Zaid Smart didn’t win any events in the Hamilton meet, he did yeoman’s work in a leadership capacity.

“Zaid helped Bruce win the 800, he took second,” said Woodside of Smart, who will be competing for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte next year.

“He helped one of our guys take second in the 3,200. He has been a big part of things. He has been very unselfish, helping the other guys and letting them get some wins. He will be peaking for the championship meets.”

Smart’s efforts have helped freshman Kevin Vahdat make big strides. “When Kevin won the two-mile in the WW/P-S meet, Zaid paced him,” said Woodside. “Kevin passed the WW/P-S kid and ran a 10:11 which is a great time for a freshman.”

Woodside is looking for some great things from senior sprinter Garrett Keyes.

“Garrett is our top sprinter in the 100 and 200,” added Woodside, whose team fell 88-52 to Hightstown last Monday to drop to 1-2 on the season.

“He has stretched it out to the 400. He has run on the 4x400 relay. He has been instrumental to the season.”

Sophomore thrower Tim Brennan is proving to be instrumental for the Little Tigers.

“Tim is really throwing well,” said Woodside. “He threw 42 on the shot at the Mercer Relays. He has thrown 125 feet on the discus. He is also throwing the javelin well.”

While Woodside believes PHS can do well this spring, he sees even bigger things on the horizon.

“We have a lot of good young kids,” said Woodside, citing such newcomers as Sabar Dasgupta, Connor Donahue, and Sage Healy in addition to Vahdat.

“The sophomores are strong and the freshmen are ridiculously strong. We have some great athletes.”

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