Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 17
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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DAVIS CUP: Princeton High’s Hannah Davis races up the field during her Little Tiger soccer career. This spring, senior star Davis has been achieving goals as a top performer for the PHS girls’ track team, starring in the 400-meter run, the 400 hurdles and the 4 x 400 relay.

PHS Girls’ Track Makes Statement in Posting Rare Win Over Trenton

Bill Alden

For the Princeton High girls’ track team, its annual meet with Trenton High has generally been a losing proposition.

With a tradition of champion sprinters and good athletes throughout the lineup, Trenton has topped the Little Tigers year in, year out.

But earlier this month, PHS made a statement about its balance and competitiveness as it edged Trenton 76-63.

“It was a good meet, it definitely spoke to our mental toughness,” said PHS head coach Jim Smirk in reflecting on the rare triumph over the Tornadoes.

“We relied more on everybody; we knew we would be challenged. We got a lot of third places.”

The victory, however, was highlighted by some first-place performances by senior star Hannah Davis, who won the 400-meter hurdles, the 400 run, and anchored PHS’s winning 4 x 400 relay team.

“Hannah was injured last year; she had a bad hip abductor injury,” said Smirk of his senior standout who also starred for the PHS girls’ soccer team.

“We talked about what she needed to do over the summer and in the winter to stay healthy. She is benefitting now from four years worth of consistent training. In the 400 hurdles, she has really come along. She is much more aggressive right through the last hurdle. She knocked down the ninth hurdle in Trenton and ran through it. She kept coming hard; she is showing all the right signs.”

Davis is also setting the right example for her teammates. “She is the guts of the team,” asserted Smirk. “She is the one we hold up as the example of practicing and competing with intensity. Without her leadership, we wouldn’t be the same team.”

Freshman sprinting star Bryell Wheeler is also making PHS a different team.

“Bryell has great physical talent; she is really young and is still working on understanding about competing,” added Smirk.

“We need to keep her working in the 100; learning technique on the starts has really helped. There is a lot more there; she is learning what it means to push and what is required to compete at a higher level.”

Senior distance runner Molly Lynch is helping her teammates learn what it means to compete at a high level.

“Molly is doing a great job; she has taken Jenna Cody under her wing,” said Smirk.

“It is the case of a senior stepping up to the occasion. She is doing it all — the half mile, the mile, and the two-mile. She never balks; she just says OK, I will go out and do the best I can. She has a great work ethic in training. She is a great example to the younger runners as to what it takes.”

Another Little Tiger who has set a great example is late-blooming senior thrower Tamara Curtis.

“Tamara has plugged away; she is flirting with the idea of becoming a top thrower,” said Smirk.

“Coach [Greg] Hand has worked hard with her. She is a grind-it-out kid. She had a physical setback before the season; she hurt her back and had six weeks of rehab. It seems to have renewed her mental focus. She is physically not 100 percent but she is competing with more focus.”

Senior jumper Rosa Vuojolainen is also fighting through some pain. “Rosa bruised a bone in her foot; it is hurting her in the triple jump,” said Smirk.

“She said before the Trenton meet, I am not 100 percent but I am jumping. She has also been doing the long jump and the pole vault. She is just putting it out there.”

Smirk is hoping that his team will be there with the contenders in county and state competition.

“The talent on this team is split between the seniors and freshmen; the sophomores and the juniors are the workhorses,” said Smirk.

“If everybody does well on the day, we could do well. We have a lot of people in the seventh-place range. We need to find a way to get them to up to fifth place. We will see if we can take that step.”

In Smirk’s view, his team has the right mindset to make that leap. “After beating Ewing and Robbinsville in the first meet, they were saying that was a lot of fun,” recalled Smirk, whose team has a meet at Lawrence on April 29.

“Everybody is really into it. We have a positive vibe to the team, last year it took us a while to find our way as a team.”

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