July 3, 2013
FAST LEARNER: Katie Reilly races up the field during her career with the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team. This spring, Reilly got her first taste of college lax action, seeing time as a reserve defender for the Amherst College women’s squad. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FAST LEARNER: Katie Reilly races up the field during her career with the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team. This spring, Reilly got her first taste of college lax action, seeing time as a reserve defender for the Amherst College women’s squad.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Katie Reilly pondered her athletic future early in her Princeton High career, she made a critical decision.

“I knew I wanted to play either college lacrosse or college soccer,” said Reilly.

“In my sophomore year, I decided to focus on college lacrosse. I realized that there was a lot of competition in soccer; it is a sport that has been around longer. I realized that I was really passionate about lacrosse.”

Reilly’s passionate play during her PHS career helped her earn a spot on Amherst College women’s lacrosse team.

“I narrowed it down to the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference] I thought it was a really exciting league,” said Reilly, who kept playing soccer at PHS and was a star defender for the program.

“There is no team that dominates, the games are really close. I did a one-day clinic at Amherst. It wasn’t really on my radar at the time; I really liked the campus and the coaches. The clinic was mainly coached by players and they talked to us a lot. I really liked them and I could see they had goals similar to mine.”

On March 19, Reilly achieved a major goal as she made her first college appearance, coming on as a substitute defender for Amherst in its 11-8 win at Swarthmore.

“It was so exciting; it was so different from high school,” recalled Reilly. “I was thinking I am an NCAA college athlete now. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off for a few minutes and then I realized it is just a lacrosse game. The first game I played was a night game; I never played one at Princeton so that was a little different.”

For Reilly, getting ready for her debut entailed more than a little adjustment, starting with fall ball training.

“We had a few meetings with the coach but she was not allowed to be on the field with us,” said Reilly.

“We practiced two or three times a week, usually Tuesday or Thursday and sometimes on Saturday because we could get the turf field when soccer or field hockey was away. We did sprinting and lifting three times a week. There is a smaller group in the fall because some juniors were on a semester abroad and others play soccer or field hockey. It was a good chance to get to know my classmates and the captains.”

Once preseason practices rolled around, Reilly had to lift the level of her game.

“It started in February, it was nice and cold,” said Reilly with a laugh.

“It was a whole new ballgame; the practices were longer and the coaches were there. The game was a lot faster. There was a lot to learn, especially on defense. We had one defense in high school; we have five defensive patterns at Amherst. There are three coaches so you can work on your game individually and stay after practice to do extra work. The older players helped so much, they were talking to you on the field.”

Having former PHS teammate and longtime friend Mia Haughton also going through her freshman season at Amherst was a big help for Reilly.

“It is nice to have someone to talk to,” said Reilly. “We have played together so long, since fourth or fifth grade in soccer and sixth grade in lacrosse. It was good to have someone who I can always find on the field.”

In reflecting on her five appearances this spring for Amherst, Reilly pointed to the team’s 18-8 win over Elizabethtown College (Pa.) as a highlight.

“When we played against Elizabethtown, we got a bigger lead and I got in earlier,” said Reilly, who was credited with one ground ball and one shot on the season.

“The defensive line was all freshmen at one point. One of the other freshmen scored her first goal; I felt like the freshmen really made their mark.”

While Amherst went 9-6 and didn’t make the NCAA tournament, Reilly believes the squad can make a mark next spring.

“We talked about it after the season; we wished we could have gone further,” said Reilly.

“We wished we could have won some of the close NESCAC games that we lost but it was still a very happy year. We are such a young team; I am really excited about next year. We had 12 freshmen so that was about half the team. We have eight freshmen coming in and we know all of them.”

As Reilly looks ahead to her sophomore season, she is bringing some hard-earned knowledge to the table.

“I learned a lot; it is so humbling,” said Reilly, who is currently playing in a summer league and is coaching at Tri-State Lacrosse in addition to doing her Amherst off-season workouts.

“I had been a starter as a freshman in high school. It is good for freshmen to learn their place.”

IN FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS: Princeton University football’s all-time leading rusher and former NFL player Keith Elias, left, poses with a participant during last year’s New York Giants Youth Football Camp at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart. This year’s camp is slated for July 8-12 at the Academy. (Photo Courtesy of NY Giants Youth Football Camps)

IN FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS: Princeton University football’s all-time leading rusher and former NFL player Keith Elias, left, poses with a participant during last year’s New York Giants Youth Football Camp at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart. This year’s camp is slated for July 8-12 at the Academy.
(Photo Courtesy of NY Giants Youth Football Camps)

Later this month, the New York Giants will open their training camp at the Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford as they prepare to kick off the 2013 campaign.

But next week, the organization is running a camp in Princeton as it holds its New York Giants Youth Football Camp at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart from July 8-12.

In the view of Tom Finks, the camp’s executive director, the program has helped grow the game in the region.

“This is the seventh year of the camps; we run anywhere from 18 to 25 camps in the tri-state area,” said Finks, noting that the program draws 1,200-1,500 children overall each summer and features such former Giant stars as Bill Ard, Stephen Baker, Rodney Hampton, Eric Dorsey, Curtis McGriff, Charles Way, and former Princeton University standout Keith Elias.

“All the camps are non-contact. The motivation is to expose the game to kids who are interested in trying the game and further training the ambitious players. We have access to great coaches and the New York Giants heroes.”

The camp includes three program options: a Comprehensive Skills Camp for newcomers ages 6-14; an Accelerated Skills Camp for league experienced players ages 9-14; and Private Instruction for students requiring position-specific football training from a specific coach. There are three New York Giants heroes present at each site. The camp costs $459 and registration is available at www.NYGiants
Camps.com.

In Finks’ view, Princeton has been proven to be an excellent venue for the program.

“We have been there all seven years,” said Finks, noting that legendary Tiger running back Elias has been a fixture at the Princeton site as one of the Giant alums on hand.

“It is a great location. There is a strong New York Giants fan base and the kids are athletic. There are lots of hockey, lacrosse, and soccer players in the area. We have been drawing 60-100 kids there each year.”

The camps offer something for all levels of experience and interest. “We draw an interesting mix of kids; we have the ambitious player to the entry level player,” explained Finks.

“We also have kids who love football but use the camp as cross training for lacrosse, hockey, or basketball. For the ambitious player, we can do more reps and progress with each drill. For others, we start from scratch, explaining this is a football; here are the laces. The great thing is that we have football coaches who are really good at teaching. The kids need strong training images.”

Awards and prizes are given to campers to help motivate and inspire them.

“At the end of the day, it has to be fun and the kids have to be rewarded and build self esteem,” said Finks, noting that two players per camp are singled out with Leadership Awards at each camp with a series of other awards passed out to recognize campers who hustle, display the spirit of the game, and make big plays. “The Giants heroes have loved the game because it is fun.”

Finks, for his part, sees the program as helping players with much more than just the game.

“We are trying to develop athletic skills but the values we learn from sports are what we carry with us,” asserted Finks.

“Parents may be excited to see their son throw a spiral after being at the camp but they are ecstatic when their son wants to go right upstairs and do his homework or is taking the trash out without being asked. The kids learn to do things the Giants Way on and off the field.”

ON A TEAR: Terrance Bailey lofts a shot in recent action for Winberie’s in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Monday, former Lawrence High standout Bailey scored a game-high 26 points to help Winberie’s edge previously undefeated Dr. Palmer 59-56. The victory lifted defending champion Winberie’s to a 6-1 record this summer. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON A TEAR: Terrance Bailey lofts a shot in recent action for Winberie’s in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Monday, former Lawrence High standout Bailey scored a game-high 26 points to help Winberie’s edge previously undefeated Dr. Palmer 59-56. The victory lifted defending champion Winberie’s to a 6-1 record this summer.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Terrance Bailey and his teammates on the once-beaten Winberie’s squad were determined to get off to a fast start last Monday as they faced undefeated Dr. Palmer in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

“It was a big game,” said Bailey. “We knew we needed to come in here focused and ready to play because we know this is a great team. They came in undefeated and we already played a big game against Ivy so we had to come in here prepared.”

Sharpshooting guard Bailey, a former Lawrence High standout, took matters into his own hands, scoring 11 points in the first five minutes of the contest as defending league champion Winberie’s roared out to a 13-0 lead.

“I just knew that my team was looking for me to score so I was just ready to go and ball,” said Bailey, who tallied 15 points in the first half as Winberie’s took a 36-26 lead into intermission.

In the second half, Dr. Palmer did some balling of its own as it fought back from a 45-30 deficit to knot the game at 50-50 and turn it into a nailbiter.

“I felt as though we played a little too comfortable,” said Bailey, reflecting on the Dr. Palmer’s rally. “We were playing like everything was under control.”

Winberie’s, though, held off Dr. Palmer and pulled out a 59-56 win, learning a valuable lesson in the process.

“We need to keep the intensity up and keep it going,” said Bailey, who tallied a game-high 26 points on the evening with Chris Hatchell chipping in 18 as Winberie’s improved to 6-1. Greg Ford scored 22 points to lead Dr. Palmer as it moved to 6-1. “Anybody can come back late in the game so we have to stay focused.”

In other action on Monday, Jesse Krasna and Pat Vasturia tallied 12 points apiece as the PA Blue Devils topped Northeast Realty 53-40 and Ivy Inn defeated WTG 58-43 with Mark Aziz scoring 19 points and Lior Levy chipping in 18 to lead the way.

For Bailey, the victory on Monday was especially meaningful since he had played for Dr. Palmer in 2012 before joining Winberie’s this summer.

“It has been great, they have great chemistry,” said Bailey, reflecting on his move to Winberie’s.

“They welcomed me with open arms. As soon as I came in, I thought they were going to look down on me, being the young one and the rookie. I thought they were going to look at me like he’s got to earn respect. But as soon as I came in, they gave me respect, they said we know what you can do, so keep it going.”

Bailey is confident that Winberie’s can go on another big playoff run. “We can never be too comfortable because we won a title last year,” said Bailey.

“We have to be ready to play every time. If we come with that fire and that anger, I don’t think anybody can stop us.”

June 26, 2013
HAPPY ENDING: Michael Franklin smiles as he crosses the finish line after taking fifth in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA championship meet in Eugene, Ore. earlier this month in the final race of his career with the Princeton University men’s track team. The finish earned Franklin, a Mendham N.J. native, first-team All-American honors. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HAPPY ENDING: Michael Franklin smiles as he crosses the finish line after taking fifth in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA championship meet in Eugene, Ore. earlier this month in the final race of his career with the Princeton University men’s track team. The finish earned Franklin, a Mendham N.J. native, first-team All-American honors.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Michael Franklin’s first 10,000 meters race for the Princeton University men’s track team didn’t go very well.

“Coach [Steve] Dolan thought I could hang in there with a slow pace and maybe I could be around at the end,” said Franklin, referring to the 2010 Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonals competition that saw him place 21st of 24 runners. “They ran hard from the start and I quickly dropped off to the back of the pack.”

In the last 10,000 of his Princeton career, Franklin ended the race looking skyward in amazement after placing fifth at the NCAA championship meet in Eugene, Ore. earlier this month to earn first-team All-American honors.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” said Franklin, reflecting on his thoughts as he crossed the finish line.

“I was thinking about all the time spent training, the hard work, and the occasional setbacks, and how it all paid off.”

After a solid but unspectacular high school running career at Mendham (N.J.) High, Franklin had a tough time upon starting his Princeton career in the fall of 2009.

“I think the big adjustment for me was that I was the best guy on my high school team and now I was the 20th guy,” said Franklin. “I was anonymous, in the middle of the pack.”

Franklin did gain inspiration from the runners at the front of the Princeton pack.

“I was the small fish in the big pond but I was getting pushed to be faster by some phenomenal guys,” said Franklin, noting that he was influenced by such standouts as NCAA steeplechase champion Donn Cabral and All-American Brian Leung.

Franklin made gradual improvements as a sophomore and then experienced a major breakthrough when he qualified for the 5,000 in the NCAA outdoor regional meet last spring.

“I did a 14:35 5k as a freshman and a 14:20 5k as a sophomore; I was doing OK but far off from the 13:40s that other guys were doing,” said Franklin.

“As a junior, I did a 14:06 5k. My junior year was a bit of a jump. I had some good races and some bad races before that. I was inconsistent. Coach Dolan said it was time to get the bad races behind me. Every time I stepped to the starting line, I had to be ready for a solid race. It was big to be at the NCAA regionals. There was very tough competition.”

In getting ready for his senior year, Franklin had to show some mental toughness as he juggled a summer job with his training. “I had a 40 hour a week job down in Maryland,” said Franklin. “I did the training on my own but it was tough to run down there. I struggled to stay focused.”

Once he arrived at Princeton for his senior year, Franklin was able to focus more on his running. “I came into the fall in good shape but the summer training was a mental strain,” said Franklin.

“The biggest thing as a senior was that I had fewer distractions. I had done most of my school requirements and I was getting eight to nine hours of sleep a night as opposed to five or six. I had a job offer so that took away some stress.”

In a harbinger of things to come, Franklin made strides during the cross country season.

“I was racing a lot better in the fall,” said Franklin, who won the program’s most improved runner award for the 2012 campaign.

“I was 134th at the NCAAs, that was a great experience. We were 11th, our best finish there, I was consistently solid and the team really jelled.”

At the Indoor Heps, Franklin was better than solid as he took the title in the 5,000 meters.

“That was great, I was super happy about that,” said Franklin, who clocked a 14:18.64 time with teammate Chris Bendsten right behind at 14:18.72.

“It was a real breakthrough. I had a 3k at the Armory meet and I dropped my best by 10 seconds. I realized I could compete on this level. I did the 3k and the 5k at the Indoor Heps. I didn’t have a good run in the 3k. I came into the 5k more relaxed and had a great race. It was a little disappointing since we lost the team title by a point.”

In May, Franklin played a key role in helping the Tigers win the Outdoor Heps for the third straight year, placing first in both the 5,000 and 10,000.

“I personally had a great meet,” said Franklin, who literally dove across the finish line to win the 5k in a time of 14:10.85 and clocked a time of 29:46.77 in leading a 1-2-4-5 finish for Princeton in the 10k.

“Winning the 10k and 5k was more than I could have hoped for. We were sore about what happened at the Indoor Heps so it was great to win the team title.”

Keeping up his great form, Franklin placed fourth in the 10,000 at the NCAA East Regional to punch his ticket to Eugene.

“I had never made nationals; I was confident about making the top 12,” said Franklin.

“No one wants to take up the pace, it comes to control. There are a lot of people making moves and racheting it up when you need to. It was my first real experience with that and it went well.”

While Franklin was pulled in many directions between the regional and leaving for the national meet, he regained his sense of urgency upon arriving in Oregon.

“With reunions and graduation, it is distracting,” said Franklin. “We went out to Eugene on Monday. Getting out there and running on that famous track helped to get my head around the idea that this was it. I was looking to be in the top 8 which would be first team All-American.”

In order to achieve that goal, Franklin realized that he had to bide his time as the race unfolded.

“I knew that Lawi Lalang (of Arizona) was head and shoulders above the field and that if I ran his race, I would not do well,” said Franklin.

“I wanted to stay in the pack and isolate myself from the race and then pick up the pieces at the end.”

Franklin executed his plan brilliantly, running his fastest three laps in the final three laps, clocking a 1:08.17, 1:06.73 and closing with a 1:01.62 — the second-fastest lap of any of the competitors throughout the entire race.

“I didn’t know what the splits were; I wasn’t thinking I had to make a move at a certain point,” said Franklin, who clocked a final time of 29:42.34, just under 13 seconds behind Lalang’s winning time of 29:29.65. “I did pick up the pace a little, I moved up and just picked off guys.”

Franklin recorded Princeton’s best finish at the NCAAs in the 10k, as the program’s previous top finish in the event came from Joe LeMay, who took 8th at 30:05.19 in 1989.

“I really couldn’t be happier; I achieved more than the most ambitious goals that I set,” said Franklin, who noted that he trained 90-100 miles a week in March and was down to around 60-70 miles with increased speedwork down the stretch of the season.

“It took mental fortitude to stick to the race plan, there were a lot of good guys out there who made moves. Competing on the highest stage in college sports and representing Princeton means a lot to me.”

Over the rest of the summer, Franklin is looking to capitalize on his speed by competing in some 5,000 races and plans to keep running in some capacity for years to come.

“I see myself continuing in road races, half marathons and greater distances,” said Franklin, who will be working in software development for the Department of Defense at Fort Meade in Maryland.

“Up to this point racing has been such an important part of my life, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”

And Franklin certainly enjoyed running the race of his life in his final college appearance.

 

LOOKING TO SHINE: Quarterback Zack DiGregorio rolls out in a game last fall during his senior season with the Princeton High football team. DiGregorio, whose leadership helped keep PHS together through a tough 2-8 campaign in 2012, will be capping his high school career by taking part in the 2013 Sunshine Classic all-star football game on July 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LOOKING TO SHINE: Quarterback Zack DiGregorio rolls out in a game last fall during his senior season with the Princeton High football team. DiGregorio, whose leadership helped keep PHS together through a tough 2-8 campaign in 2012, will be capping his high school career by taking part in the 2013 Sunshine Classic all-star football game on July 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Zack DiGregorio experienced a roller-coaster year in 2011, his junior season on the Princeton High football team.

DiGregorio had a knee operation in July but was in uniform as the back-up quarterback for the opening day win over Northern Burlington in early September. A week later, DiGregorio was the starting QB due to an injury to Alex Mitko.

“The first day was a little bit of a transition; I had settled into my role,” said DiGregorio. “Alex was going to be the leader, he was playing well and I was going to be the backup. The seniors were incredibly supportive, that really helped me.”

Growing into the role, DiGregorio completed 4-of-7 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-7 win over WW/P-N but then was benched later in the season.

In reflecting on the topsy-turvy season, DiGregorio said he took some key positives from the experience.

“I gained a lot of leadership experience that I was not expecting to get,” said DiGregorio.

“I gained a lot of trust from my teammates and that helped as a senior. I had such good role models at quarterback in Mike Olentine and Alex Mitko, they established the template for me.”

Applying that experience, DiGregorio led PHS through a tough season last year that saw it prevail against Northern Burlington in the opener and then lose eight straight before topping New Brunswick in the finale.

“When we started losing, I was trying to put it all on my shoulders and I realized that wasn’t the best way to do it,” said the 5’9, 160-pound DiGregorio.

“I started demanding more from the team after they saw I was demanding more of myself.”

For getting the most out of himself and playing hard through adversity, DiGregorio has been chosen to play in the 2013 Sunshine Classic all-star football game, which is taking place on July 2.

“I have gone to the game the last three years,” said DiGregorio, reflecting on his selection.

“When I heard that coach [Joe Gargione] nominated me, I played it cool. I was absolutely elated when I found out that I had been picked.”

In preparing for his senior campaign, DiGregorio picked up a lot from working with former New York Giants star quarterback Phil Simms.

“I went up to northern Jersey four times in late July and August to work with him,” said DiGregorio.

“I worked on not being so tight and be so rigidly fundamental. I needed to use my body in a better way. I learned how to go slower to be stronger.”

After enduring eight straight losses last fall, DiGregorio and his classmates were determined to produce a strong finish as they faced New Brunswick in an NJSIAA consolation contest.

“All the seniors wanted to go out on a high note,” said DiGregorio. “We had to keep the underclassmen going. The season was so long with all the injuries.”

Although PHS ended up prevailing 22-14, DiGregorio had to fight through some more adversity.

“I told my dad [assistant PHS coach Steve DiGregorio] I finished like I started,” said DiGregorio.

“When I was a freshman I had four picks and two fumbles a game. In that New Brunswick game, I had two fumbled snaps and two interceptions. The offensive line did a great job and the defensive line got some turnovers to make up for my mistakes. Javon Pannell had a great game; I think he rushed for around 170 yards.”

After the game, the PHS seniors shared some poignant moments with their New Brunswick counterparts.

“I think the emotions were more sober than I thought they would be; I got most of my tears out of the way before the game,” said DiGregorio.

“It was unspoken. When we went down the line to shake hands with the other team, we didn’t know them but we could tell who the seniors were. They were going through the same thing that we we were and we gave them hugs. It was cool.”

For DiGregorio, going through ups and downs on the gridiron has helped him grow as a person.

“I think that without football, I would not be the hard worker that I am today,” said DiGregorio.

“I wouldn’t have the innate sense of perseverance. I would not be nearly the leader that I am. Going through the turmoil of my senior year helped me execute better as a leader and get in people’s faces when I need to.”

This week, DiGregorio will be honing those qualities as he plays for the West team in the Sunshine game.

“The amount of talent contained on one field is great,” asserted DiGregorio, who is doing a post-graduate year at the Hun School and hopes to play for the Raider football squad.

“The game is very competitive even though it is an all-star game and it is for fun. Everyone is really into being out there; the atmosphere is great. It is impossible not to learn in an environment like that.”

 

TIM TERRIFIC: Tim Brennan fires the discus this spring in action during his senior season on the Princeton High boys track team. In mid-June, the Dartmouth-bound Brennan wrapped up his high school career with an excellent showing in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at Greensboro, N.C. He placed 11th in the hammer throw with a mark of 199’6 and took 12th in the discus with a heave of 172’4. Earlier this month, he pushed his school record in the discus to 180’9 as he took third at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TIM TERRIFIC: Tim Brennan fires the discus this spring in action during his senior season on the Princeton High boys track team. In mid-June, the Dartmouth-bound Brennan wrapped up his high school career with an excellent showing in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at Greensboro, N.C. He placed 11th in the hammer throw with a mark of 199’6 and took 12th in the discus with a heave of 172’4. Earlier this month, he pushed his school record in the discus to 180’9 as he took third at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The link to Tim Brennan’s YouTube channel ends with the words “live2throw”

Brennan exemplified that mantra from the day he joined the Princeton High track team as a freshman to competing in the New Balance national championships earlier this month in his final meet for the Little Tigers.

This fall, he will be taking that theme north with him as he joins the Dartmouth College track team.

Brennan, who caught the bug for throwing as an eighth grader at the Cranbury School, got further encouragement from some veteran teammates when he joined the PHS squad.

“There were two good senior throwers in the team when I came in as a freshman, Drew Reifinger and Omar Yousef,” said Brennan. “They were really good role models.”

After being slowed by appendicitis as a sophomore, Brennan produced a break out season the next year.

“In my junior year in the county meet indoors, I broke the 50-foot mark in the shot and got first,” said Brennan. “In the state meet that spring, I came in 5th in the discus with 151’8.”

One of the secrets to Brennan’s success has been his dedication to learning the craft of the sport.

“Over the past few years I have read a lot of articles and watched a ton of videos,” said Brennan. “I have gotten a better grasp of throwing, both from world class throwers and local athletes.

In addition to soaking up information regarding the fine points of throwing, Brennan has radically changed his approach to strength training over the years.

“Basically I did general lifting until junior year. I went from power lifting to explosive Olympic-style lifting,” explained the 5’11 Brennan, who went from weighing 155 pounds as a freshman to his current 215 pounds.

“In Olympic lifting you do the power clean and snatch. You focus on movement, particularly quick leg movement. You are moving weights quickly. In power lifting, you are try to move the most weight you can. I realized it was more important to see how fast you could move the weight, as opposed to much weight you could move.”

As Brennan approached his senior year, he was looking to move up the ladder, starting with the shot put over the winter.

“In the county meet indoors, I wanted to do 55 feet in the shot and get the county title,” said Brennan. “I won and threw it 53’11 so that was close. In the state I came in third.”

Once track moved outdoors for the spring, Brennan was looking to make a statement in the discus.

“I wanted to break the school record of 158 in the discus,” added Brennan. “I did that early and then I wanted to break 180. I did that on my last throw in the Meet of Champions. I sort of knew I had one heave in me. It came together. I had some throws in the 170s. It came down to the final throw and I hit it and I was praying that it was 180. When I heard that it was 180’9, that was one of the greatest feelings. I worked so hard for that.”

Brennan put in good work for PHS on the national stage last week at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at Greensboro, N.C., placing 11th in the hammer throw with a mark of 199’6 and taking 12th in the discus with a heave of 172’4

“It was a great experience going against some of the best competition in the country,” said Brennan, who wasn’t the only PHS athlete to excel at the meet as the quartet of sophomores Joe Gray and Jacob Rist together with junior Conor Donahue and senior Matt Wong took fifth in the 4×800 in the Emerging Elite division in a time of 8:04.53 while junior Michelle Bazile placed eighth in the discus with a throw of 132’11.

“I saw a lot of New Jersey throwers. I think we had three of the top 12 in the hammer and discus.”

In considering his options regarding throwing in college, Brennan looked at a number of schools before Dartmouth emerged as his top choice.

“The serious recruiting started in the beginning of my junior year; I was looking at a broad range of D-I and D-2 schools,” said Brennan.

“I had my list down to a some of the big ones like LSU and Oregon. Over Thanksgiving, I contacted a few more coaches, including coach [Michelle] Clayton at Dartmouth. I liked the athletics and academics at Dartmouth. She told me I could get a likely letter through athletic support. I went for a visit and I really liked the throwers. It was my last official visit. I went in January and I knew that it was the right place for me.”

As is his custom, Brennan is taking a serious approach in preparing to make the jump to the college level.

“It is going to be an adjustment to heavier events; the hammer goes from 12 pounds to 16 pounds and the discus goes from 1.6 kilograms to 2.0 kilograms,” said Brennan.

“I have to continue to work hard and make a gradual adjustment. It will take a year. The throws programs in the Ivy League and the track teams overall are getting more and more competitive.”

 

ZACH ATTACK: Zach Sibel of the PA Blue Devils looks for an opening last Wednesday against Winberie’s in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League action at the Community Park courts. Sibel scored a game-high 20 points as the Blue Devils knocked off defending champion Winberie’s 64-44.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ZACH ATTACK: Zach Sibel of the PA Blue Devils looks for an opening last Wednesday against Winberie’s in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League action at the Community Park courts. Sibel scored a game-high 20 points as the Blue Devils knocked off defending champion Winberie’s 64-44. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Zach Sibel and the PA Blue Devils started last week’s action in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League on a down note as they fell to Sneakers Plus.

“We couldn’t get anything to fall on Monday and the other team hit a lot of shots,” said Sibel, reflecting on the team’s 58-47 defeat on June 17. “It is always tough when you get into that hole.”

Two nights later, the Blue Devils got off to a sizzling start as they faced defending league champions and undefeated Winberie’s, jumping out to a 16-5 lead.

The team was not only motivated by a desire to bounce back from Monday, they were fired up for the chance to knock off Winberie’s.

“We tried to start off hot, get some layups and stuff like that and you saw that tonight,” said Sibel.

“We got hot and got a little bit of a lead and had to keep it up on defense. We always battle them pretty tough, year in, year out. It is a game we look forward to when we see it on the schedule.”

While Winberie’s narrowed the gap to 29-24 at halftime, the Blue Devils turned up the defensive heat after the break and pulled away to a 64-44 victory.

“We kept up that defensive intensity and kept getting stops,” said Sibel, reflecting on the team’s second half surge.

“Those buckets are going to come, especially when you are getting stops and getting out in transition.”

The Blue Devils also found an offensive rhythm as Sibel scored a game-high 20 points with Zak Kumer and Pat Vasturia scoring 14 apiece.

“We saw everyone getting it clicking,” said Sibel. “Pat was hitting shots, Jesse Krasna was hitting shots. We were getting guys open and they were knocking them down. You can’t really complain when shots are going down.”

Sibel isn’t complaining about taking on increased responsibility for the Blue Devils.

“This is my third year in the league,” said Sibel, a former Pennsbury High standout who just completed his sophomore season for Delaware Valley College where he averaged 2.7 points a game in 23 appearances.”

“My role has kind of increased every year. I am just trying to get active and do my thing on defense and when I get opportunities with the ball, to make the most of them.”

In Sibel’s view, the fact that the PA Blue Devils roster contains several college players, including four from Ursinus (Kevin Janowski, Mike Marciano, in addition to Vasturia and Krasna) gives the team an edge.

“We all know how to play so we all feed off of each other,” said Sibel. “When basketball season ends for school, you look forward to this league.”

The squad is looking forward to making a title run this summer. “To come back after a tough loss and beat the defending champions gets your confidence going,” said Sibel. “I think that after tonight, if we keep playing like this, we have got a good shot.”

 

June 21, 2013
RUNNING WITH THE DEVILS: Mie Graham, right, tracks down a foe in action this spring for the Duke University women’s lacrosse team. Former Princeton High standout Graham ended her Duke career in style as she starred on defense and served as a team captain for the Blue Devils, who went 14-6 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.

RUNNING WITH THE DEVILS: Mie Graham, right, tracks down a foe in action this spring for the Duke University women’s lacrosse team. Former Princeton High standout Graham ended her Duke career in style as she starred on defense and served as a team captain for the Blue Devils, who went 14-6 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.

As Mie Graham starts a job on the Citibank trading desk this summer, she feels uniquely qualified to climb the corporate ladder after enduring a variety of ups and downs during her career with the Duke University women’s lacrosse team.

“I learned so much about sacrifice, respecting other people, and working as a leader,” said former Princeton High star Graham, who graduated from Duke last month.

“It is a huge advantage over other people who didn’t play a sport. Being part of something bigger than yourself and caring so much and putting so much work into it.”

Graham faced some big challenges during her college lacrosse career as she made the transition from high-scoring PHS midfielder to a defensive stalwart for the Blue Devils.

“When I first started in college, I had a lot of work to do,” recalled Graham. “I was a midfielder but the coach [Kerstin Kimel] told me I was going to play more defense. The coach told me it was going to take a couple of years to earn a spot and that it was going to be a process. It takes time to learn how to do it and to learn to play as a unit. During sophomore year, I was getting some minutes during games and I was trying to push people in practice.”

By her junior year, Graham had made it into the starting lineup and this spring she served as a team captain, helping the Blue Devils go 14-6 and advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.

For Graham, being elected as a captain was the culmination of her growth process.

“I was so honored and so proud,” said Graham, who served along with classmates Kaitlin Gaiss and Lauren Martin together with junior Taylor Virden. “I had to work my way up, I didn’t come in as a superstar. I wasn’t on that trajectory and I ended up as a captain; things worked out perfectly for me.”

Things didn’t come any easier, though, for Graham upon assuming the leadership role.

“It is a much harder job than I thought,” said Graham. “It was such a huge responsibility, I learned so much and became so close to the other captains. I learned how much it takes to get through a season. You have to put the team ahead of yourself. I really enjoyed it.”

The defensive unit emerged as a strength of the 2013 Duke team as the Blue Devils allowed 8.95 goals a game this spring, third in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and 24th nationally.

“Lauren [Martin], Taylor [Virden], and I had played together for two years,” said Graham, who scooped up 18 ground balls and had 13 caused turnovers this spring.

“We had the experience and we got to the point where we felt telepathic in the crease. We had the mentality of putting everything into every practice and every game.”

It was a tough loss in a regular season game with North Carolina that showed Graham and her teammates how good they could be.

“We took UNC to two overtimes and lost by one,” said Graham, referring to the 12-11 loss in late March to the eventual national champion.

“It was such a great battle, we showed that we could play with them. It gave us good experience.”

Coming into the postseason, the Blue Devils were ready to battle hard. “Every year the goal is to win the NCAA tournament,” asserted Graham.

“We had a disappointing loss to UVa in the ACC tournament and we had a lot of time before the NCAAs. We were excited about our path, playing Princeton and Navy and then probably going against
Maryland.”

The first-round clash against Princeton in Annapolis, Md. proved to be a very exciting game as Duke prevailed 10-9 in double overtime.

“It is always special when I play in Princeton; it was a little different playing at Navy,” said Graham.

“I wasn’t focused on that; the mentality was it didn’t matter who we were playing. What is so great about this team is that we may not have been the most talented team or had the advantages of other teams but we always believed. We had no doubt that we would win that game, even though Princeton scored late and we had wanted to win in regulation.”

The Blue Devils didn’t need overtime to win 10-5 against Navy in the second round, holding the Midshipmen scoreless for over 40 minutes during one stretch of the contest.

“We had never played Navy; I didn’t know anyone on that team,” said the 5’8 Graham, who contributed a pair of caused turnovers to help Duke stifle Navy.

“We had one day to get our legs back and scout them. We couldn’t have a hard practice. We watched a lot of film. We knew they would be hard-nosed and determined and they were not going to be intimidated about playing Duke. They had Jasmine DePompeo; she was the leading scorer in D-I and we held her scoreless, that was awesome. We played well, we were really in synch. We were riding the momentum off of Friday.”

The ride for Graham ended as Duke fell 14-9 to eventual national runner-up Maryland in the NCAA quarterfinals.

“In the first game against them, we pushed out,” explained Graham, referring to the regular season meeting between ACC rivals in late February which saw the Terps prevail 15-6.

“In the second game, we packed it in more. They have a turf field and it is narrow and that gives them an advantage. They are so fast and athletic. We felt that if we put it together at both ends, we had a good chance to beat them. We had problems clearing; we made too many turnovers. We scored the last four goals. It made me feel better that we played hard to the end.”

It was hard for Graham to say goodbye to her college lacrosse career under such circumstances.

“Being a leader and a captain, I tried to not show too much emotion,” said Graham.

“I was trying to be strong but it was a hard ride home. I couldn’t be more proud of the team because we fought so hard. When I think about all the work we put in, starting last fall, I was proud. I am excited to see the team next year. I think we have laid a good foundation.”

And when Graham thinks about her Duke career, she can be confident of gaining a strong foundation for whatever lies ahead.

TRIGGER POINT: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Cody Triolo unloads the ball in action this spring. The Lehigh-bound midfielder ended his PDS career on a high note, tallying 57 points on 38 goals and 19 assists to help the Panthers go 11-6 and advance to the state Prep B title game and the Mercer County Tournament semis. Triolo finished with 149 career points on 80 goals and 69 assists and earned first-team All-Prep, first-team All-Bianchi, second-team All-State honors this spring.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRIGGER POINT: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Cody Triolo unloads the ball in action this spring. The Lehigh-bound midfielder ended his PDS career on a high note, tallying 57 points on 38 goals and 19 assists to help the Panthers go 11-6 and advance to the state Prep B title game and the Mercer County Tournament semis. Triolo finished with 149 career points on 80 goals and 69 assists and earned first-team All-Prep, first-team All-Bianchi, second-team All-State honors this spring. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2010, Cody Triolo showed promise as a freshman midfielder for a Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team that struggled to a 6-10 record.

A year later, Triolo emerged as a star, helping the Panthers to a winning mark of 10-5.

By his junior season, Triolo was firmly established as one of the more productive players in the area. He tallied 39 points in 24 goals and 15 assists as PDS advanced to the Mercer County Tournament title game and the state Prep B semis.

Coming into this spring, PDS head coach Rob Tuckman was expecting a lot from the Lehigh-bound Triolo.

“Cody is an absolute star, off the field he is an
incredible captain and leader,” asserted Tuckman.

“We have 24 freshmen in the program and to have a guy like Cody setting the tone is great. He creates the rhythm for the rest of the program.”

Cementing his status as one of the greatest players in the program’s history, Triolo helped PDS get in a winning rhythm. After a season-opening loss to eventual prep B champion Rutgers Prep, the Panthers won the next four games to get rolling.

Not letting a sore achilles tendon deter him, Triolo gave a graphic demonstration of his skill and leadership in a 12-11 win over the Hill School (Pa.) in early May, tallying three goals and two assists as the Panthers rallied from an 8-5 deficit to pull out the victory.

In reflecting on his performance that day, Triolo deflected attention from his play.

“I think we all just play together and make our runs together,” said Triolo,

“Everybody takes turns making their dodges. We have a great system with cuts and pops and everything. Honestly our team chemistry on offense right now is unreal. It is spreading the wealth.”

The Panthers displayed their chemistry as they went on to produce another stirring postseason run, advancing to the Prep B title game and playing in the MCT semis where they dropped an overtime heartbreaker to eventual champion Princeton High.

In Triolo’s view, PDS brought a special sense of urgency to the final weeks of the season.

“I think we have definitely got the drive and the want to play for each other and the school,” said Triolo, who ended the season with 57 points on 38 goals and 19 assists to help PDS post a final record of 11-6.

“I am excited to play in the tournaments. Lacrosse is a game of runs and you have to keep your cool when they are on a run and you have to keep pushing when you are on your run.”

Tuckman, for his part, saw Triolo as the engine pushing PDS to excellence.

“He is a leader, both in his style of play and in his intensity,” said Tuckman of Triolo, who ended up with 149 career points on 80 goals and 69 assists and earned first team All-Prep, first team All-Bianchi, and second team All-State honors this spring.

“While I think it is a complete and total team effort, Cody sets the tone for everybody to play to and I think they do. They play up to it.”

For supplying leadership and triggering the offense as PDS solidified its status as one of the premier programs in the area, Triolo is the choice as the Town Topics’ top male performer of the spring season.

Top Female Performer

Emilia Lopez-Ona’s shooting prowess helped the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse standout turn heads well beyond Mercer County.

The attacker committed to join the University of Pennsylvania women’s lacrosse team while she was just a sophomore at PHS.

But coming into this spring, new Little Tiger head coach Kelsey O’Gorman challenged her junior star to diversify her game, looking for more defense and feeding from Lopez-Ona.

The competitive Lopez-Ona responded with aplomb, using her sprinter’s speed and savvy to be a force at both ends of the field. She started the season with a total of 12 goals in the first games and kept rolling.

In an early season 16-12 win at WW/P-S, Lopez-Ona was at her dominating best, forcing turnovers on the defensive end while tallying eight goals and two assists on her offensive forays.

“With my shot, I feel it is a lot about composure and staying with the fundamentals,” said Lopez-Ona in assessing her performance against the Pirates.

“I feel I started out the game pretty focused and I didn’t get frazzled. I was pretty happy I came out strong because they were marking me pretty tight. I have been watching a lot of film when girls are getting marked out and doing stuff like using the crease, popping out, and being physical. They have great defenders on me and I was happy with the way I was rubbing them off.”

Lopez-Ona’s outburst, though, came in the flow of the Little Tiger offense. “Today we were working for good shots and we were working for good possessions,” said Lopez-Ona.

“I feel like after this game we will be pretty confident with how we can play the end of the game on offense with our stall with the whole team getting involved there.”

The Little Tigers got more and more confident as the season went on, advancing to the county semis and then ending the spring by topping Scotch Plains, West Morris, and Sparta on the way to the North Jersey Group III sectional title game where they fell to powerful Mendham.

Lopez-Ona tallied 18 goals and nine assists in the state tourney run, giving her grand total this season of 163 points on 111 goals and 52 assists and making her the No. 2 scorer in the state.

In the process, Lopez-Ona gave PHS a lot more than points in helping it go 18-4.

“Emilia is just a great leader, on and off the field,” asserted O’Gorman. “You know she is always going to be pumping everyone up in the huddle; she is always psyched up for her team.”

Lopez-Ona’s production and intensity in all facets of the game earn her the nod as the top female performer of the spring.

Top Newcomers

It looked like it was going to be another sad spring for the Princeton High baseball team as it started 1-10 coming off a 4-18 campaign in 2012.

But looking to spark the team, PHS head coach Dave Roberts moved freshman Hayden Reyes to shortstop.

Playing solid defense and providing some clutch hitting, Reyes helped the Little Tigers enjoy one of their most positive seasons in recent memory as PHS caught fire down the stretch to finish at 9-15.

In assessing his team’s late surge, Roberts credited Reyes with giving the Little Tigers a big lift.

“The addition of Hayden Reyes as a freshman has been amazing,” said Roberts. “He had a seven-game hitting streak and he is up over .300 as a freshman.”

For emerging as a catalyst for PHS in his debut campaign, Reyes is the pick as the top male newcomer this spring.

Alexis Goeke just started pitching in middle school but she wasn’t fazed to step in as the ace for the Hun School softball team this spring as a freshman.

“It doesn’t feel like I have a lot of pressure on my hands but I have a lot to prove,” said Goeke.

“With the upperclassmen’s help, it makes it much easier on me. All I want is to be in the circle. As a freshman, it feels good to have that opportunity to be out there and pitching.”

Goeke didn’t wait long to make the most of that opportunity in her debut against the Hill School (Pa.), striking out 12 and giving up two hits in a 9-0 win.

As the spring went on, Goeke recorded a number of double-digit strikeout games, pitching Hun to the state Prep A championship game where it fell to Peddie to finish with an 11-7 record.

In addition, Goeke emerged as a solid hitter in the middle of the Raider lineup, helping herself with the bat.

“I like both parts; a lot of people say pitchers can’t bat but I really think the opposite,” said Goeke. “It is a great break. You get off the field and you go hit.”

Hun head coach Kathy Quirk knew it was her great fortune to have a freshman like Goeke in the fold.

“I am very impressed with her,” said Quirk. “I think she is a very composed freshman and she wants to be out there. She knows what her role is, she knows what her job is. She doesn’t say to herself I have to strike everyone out. She knows she has good fielders behind her and she depends on them and if she gets a strikeout, she gets it.”

Goeke’s coolness under fire and her precocious play make her the choice as the top female newcomer of the spring.

Top Coaches

Things were a bit unsettled as the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team hit the field to get ready for the 2013 campaign.

“We have a number of injuries and the kids are involved in a number of activities that overlap, like hockey and soccer tournaments, the lead in the musical, EMT certification, all admirable things,” said PHS head coach Peter Stanton.

“We don’t always have the same group on the field. Once we get the pieces in line, we really hope that when we come to the month of May, we can contend for a county title and win some games in states.”

After an early season loss to Allentown, PHS caught fire, bringing a 10-3 record into the county tournament. Featuring a balanced offense paced by Adam Ainslie, Matt Purdy, Zach Halliday, Kevin Halliday, Patrick McCormick, Matt Corrado, and Will Hare together with a rugged defense spearheaded by Matt DiTosto, Jack Persico, Jackson Andres, Colin Buckley and goalie Gabe MacGregor, the Little Tigers advanced to the MCT title game against Allentown.

Exacting some sweet revenge for the earlier loss, PHS jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the way to a 10-4 victory over the Redbirds and the program’s first-ever county crown.

“If you look at our team you might not be wow those guys are so nasty,” said Stanton, reflecting on the win over Allentown.

“The sum is greater than the parts; the behavior, the attitude, the work ethic, and our guys just always doing the right things. That’s the difference. That is a team of guys that did the right things for a long time.”

The title was a long time coming for Stanton, who hit the 200-win mark in his PHS career with the Little Tigers’ 7-6 overtime victory against Princeton Day School in the county semis.

“It is a fantastic experience for this group of boys,” asserted Stanton. “In high school sports, it’s all about the now. It’s all about where these kids are now. Just look at the faces on these kids, they are ecstatic. It just means a whole bunch of happiness.”

Building on its MCT success, PHS kept rolling in the state tournament as it advanced to the South Jersey Group III sectional semifinals, where it fell to powerful Shawnee 5-4 in overtime.

“If you want to make a deep run, it is really a test of stamina and a test of will,” said Stanton, whose team posted a final record of 16-4.

“It is really challenging, coming down to the end of the school year, prom and all these kinds of things and I am just so pleased that our boys really want to play lacrosse.”

For getting his players to play some great lacrosse as they produced a memorable postseason run, Stanton is the pick as the top coach of a male team this spring.

Kelsey O’Gorman was fired up to become head coach of the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse program this spring.

“I was an assistant coach last year so I already had a relationship with them; I didn’t have to learn who they are,” said O’Gorman, the replacement for Christie Cooper.

“I teach here. The school is my home. I have done the paperwork and the other things to get ready for the season and now it’s time for lacrosse. This is the first time I have been a head coach and I like how it feels. I like the competitive aspect and the girls are highly coachable.”

The former College of New Jersey defender sought to get her players to take a more sophisticated approach to the game as she took the helm.

“I am trying to make it a strong unit, where each player has an important role,” said O’Gorman.

“It is not just strong offense or strong defense; I want them working all over the field. I want the girls to learn to be versatile. I want the low defenders to be able to attack and the attackers to defend. I want to improve their lax IQ.”

Applying O’Gorman’s approach, the Little Tigers displayed a smart and aggressive brand of lacrosse as they rolled through the regular season with just two losses. Although PHS was disappointed to fall to WW/P-N in the MCT semifinals, the Little Tigers were undeterred as they started play in the North Jersey Group III sectional.

PHS topped Scotch Plains 17-5, West Morris 14-11 and Sparta 12-9 as it advanced to the sectional title game at powerful Mendham.

While the second-seeded Little Tigers ended up falling 16-8 to top-seeded Mendham, O’Gorman liked the way her team competed to the end.

“I am so proud of the girls; I really think they did believe in each other,” said O’Gorman, who guided the Little Tigers to an 18-4 record.

“They did have faith in one another and that is what got them this far. Just because we didn’t come out with a win today, it doesn’t take away from the competition we have put forth this far. We really gave teams battles, even Mendham.”

O’Gorman’s influence in getting PHS to raise the level of its play and enjoy a superb campaign earns her the nod as the top coach of a female team this spring.

LIGHT AND FIT: The Mercer Junior Rowing Club (MJRC) women’s youth lightweight 8+ churns through the water in competition earlier this spring. Helped by Princeton High junior ­Beatrice Sclapari, the boat took third at the USRowing’s Youth National Championships earlier this month on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

LIGHT AND FIT: The Mercer Junior Rowing Club (MJRC) women’s youth lightweight 8+ churns through the water in competition earlier this spring. Helped by Princeton High junior ­Beatrice Sclapari, the boat took third at the USRowing’s Youth National Championships earlier this month on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Before entering high school in 2010, Beatrice Sclapari enjoyed performing on the stage, concentrating on singing and acting.

But after going to a Mercer Junior Rowing Club (MJRC) camp weeks before her freshman year at Princeton High, Sclapari ended up deciding that she might enjoy performing on the water.

“I really liked the camp but I didn’t know if I was going to continue,” recalled Sclapari.

“I had not done competitive sports. I rowed in the fall season and I knew it was for me, things really clicked. Your teammates are always around you. Everyone is supporting each other; I had never felt that in any other thing I did.”

Earlier this month, Sclapari excelled for the club on a big stage, helping the MJRC women’s youth lightweight 8+ take third at the USRowing’s Youth National Championships on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

For Sclapari, moving up to varsity as a sophomore helped transform her into a more ambitious competitor.

“As a novice, I did rowing because of fun and being with teammates,” said Sclapari, a junior.

“On varsity, it is more competitive. I had a lot of improvement to make. You get out what you put into it. I saw results when I stayed after practice and did extra work. It didn’t happen right away but I saw the improvements. It was rewarding.”

Sclapari’s hard work as a sophomore was rewarded by her first trip to the nationals.

“I was on the lightweight 8 in the spring; we were second in the regionals and qualified for the nationals,” said Sclapari. “We went to nationals with no expectations and got eighth.”

Being at the nationals raised Sclapari’s expectations of what she could achieve as a rower.

“It was really important for me,” she asserted.  “I saw that there were other rowers who were a lot faster and that wasn’t a negative. It just showed that there is always a next level and that we needed to work hard to get to that level.”

This spring, the lightweight 8 showed early on that it was destined to reach a high level.

“A few days before the regional we put together the lightweight 8,” said Sclapari. “We raced well in the regionals and won by open water. That showed us that we had a chance to do well at the nationals.”

In preparing for the
national regatta, the boat got progressively better. “We clicked from the first practice, we came together and each day we were getting faster,” said Sclapari.

“We looked at the other teams in the regatta; we had the fastest time of any boat in the regionals so we were confident going in. We knew it was going to be a fight.”

The MJRC boat got off to a fast start at the nationals, placing first in both its opening heat and semifinal race.

“We won the heat by open water,” said Sclapari. “In the semis, the Oakland Strokes were in the next lane. We got off to a great start. We got our bow in front. I think we caught them off guard, they didn’t know who Mercer was.”

In the national championship race, the boat started hard but ran out of gas down the stretch. “In the final, we knew we had to get our bow out front and stay ahead,” said Sclapari, who rowed in the 4-seat at the nationals.

“In the first 500 meters, we were trying to keep up with the Oakland Strokes (the eventual champion). We never got settled. We were tired, we couldn’t sprint in the last 500. We were disappointed when we crossed the finish line.”

With some time having passed, Sclapari and her boatmates realize that they have no cause to be disappointed.

“We are so happy,” said Sclapari of the boat, which also included Vicki Jorgenson, Christie Samios, Rena White, Katie Sessa, Angelica Escuadro, Rachel Calabro, Kate Hickey, and coxswain Noa Rothstein.

“Before regionals, we never thought we were going to medal at nationals. We were only together for about four or five weeks and we went from eighth last year to third. We want to do even better next year.”

Sclapari, for her part, will be taking a leading role next year as she was recently elected as one of the MJRC team captains for her senior season.

“I was very excited, I couldn’t be happier,” said Sclapari, who is planning to row in college at the D-I level and will be starting the recruiting process this July.

“It is such a great group of girls. I want to be open and welcoming to the new rowers and push the girls who are coming back.”

FINAL CUT: Princeton Day School baseball player B.J. Dudeck takes a cut in action this spring. Senior center fielder and VMI-bound Dudeck ended his PDS career on a high note, hitting a team-high .406 with 18 RBIs to help the Panthers post a 9-12 record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL CUT: Princeton Day School baseball player B.J. Dudeck takes a cut in action this spring. Senior center fielder and VMI-bound Dudeck ended his PDS career on a high note, hitting a team-high .406 with 18 RBIs to help the Panthers post a 9-12 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton Day School baseball team, its loss to Pennington in the state Prep B semifinals was a microcosm of a season that saw several near misses.

“We scored four runs to get the lead and then they came back with four runs,” said PDS head coach Ray O’Brien, noting that his team clubbed three straight homers in its rally before ultimately succumbing 7-5. “It was a real good game. I am glad that the kids battled like that.”

The Panthers battled hard throughout the season as they went 9-12. “We had an 8-4 start and everybody was hitting the ball well; from that point everyone went cold at the same time,” said O’Brien, whose team ended the season by losing 7-6 to Lawrenceville in extra innings on May 16.

“We had a lot of tight games that could have gone either way. The 9-12 record was not indicative of how we played. We played a lot of tough people. We had wins over Hill and Peddie. We had a great start and it was a little tougher at the end. If we had had a few more hits here or there, things could have been different.”

O’Brien acknowledged that his team may have gotten fatigued down the stretch.

“We had a lot of talented players but we had limited depth,” said O’Brien. “I think we may have gotten worn down a little bit.”

Two of PDS’s most talented players were sophomores Cole McManimon and Jake Alu. The 6’5 right-hander McManimon emerged as one of the best pitchers in the area, going 6-2 with a 1.94 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched while the versatile Alu batted .309 and also picked up two wins on the mound.

“Cole McManimon was incredible, he had six of our nine wins,” said O’Brien.

“He is going to be a real stud. Jake Alu moved to shortstop this year and played great there for us. He had another great year at the plate. When he pitched, he did well.”

O’Brien credited his seniors, Rob Colton, B.J. Dudeck, Brad Freid, Alec Jones, Rob Hrabchak, Greg Auerbach, and Ben Weiner, with giving the team some real stability.

“It was a pretty good senior class; Rob Colton and Brad Freid were good character guys,” said O’Brien.

“They caught, they played the outfield, they did anything we asked of them. They were good leaders; they brought a lot to the table besides their numbers. B.J. Dudeck put everything together. He played a great center field and hit .406. It was good to see him go out with a great year.”

There are good things on the horizon for PDS with such returning players as J.P. Radvany, Dom Gasparro, Ford Schneider, and Sam Guarino, in addition to McManimon and Alu.

“I am excited about the guys who are coming back; the pitching can only get better,” said O’Brien, noting that Radvany and Schneider showed promise on the mound in addition to McManimon and Alu. “We have four or five guys coming in; maybe one of them will be a surprise.”

EYE ON THE BALL: Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball player Jacob Eisenberg shows his focus as he takes a swing last Wednesday in Princeton’s 5-2 win over Hopewell Post 339. Former Princeton Day School standout Eisenberg contributed a two-run single in the victory. On Sunday, ­Eisenberg got the win on the mound as Princeton topped Trenton Post 93/182 12-1 to improve to 2-4. In upcoming action, Post 218 hosts Hamilton Post 31 on June 19 at Smoyer Park before facing Trenton on June 22 and Ewing Post 314 on June 23, with both games to be played at Mercer County Park. Next week, Princeton plays at North Hamilton on June 24 before hosting Allentown on June 25.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

EYE ON THE BALL: Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball player Jacob Eisenberg shows his focus as he takes a swing last Wednesday in Princeton’s 5-2 win over Hopewell Post 339. Former Princeton Day School standout Eisenberg contributed a two-run single in the victory. On Sunday, ­Eisenberg got the win on the mound as Princeton topped Trenton Post 93/182 12-1 to improve to 2-4. In upcoming action, Post 218 hosts Hamilton Post 31 on June 19 at Smoyer Park before facing Trenton on June 22 and Ewing Post 314 on June 23, with both games to be played at Mercer County Park. Next week, Princeton plays at North Hamilton on June 24 before hosting Allentown on June 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last year, it took a while for Tommy Soulias to gain a comfort level as he joined the Ivy Inn team in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Hoops league.

“At first, I was just getting my feet wet and getting used to it; now I know the guys personally and we are all friends.” said Soulias, a former Spotswood High star who played this past winter in his freshman campaign for the Kean University men’s hoops team.

Soulias went on to make an impact in his debut campaign, emerging as a key contributor in helping Ivy Inn make it to the league’s championship round.

“We came extremely close last year,” said Soulias, reflecting on the best-of-three series that saw Winberie’s edge Ivy Inn 2-1 to earn the 2012 title.

“Bobby Davison [Ivy Inn team manager] is like an older brother to me. He coached me in AAU, that’s how I got to know these guys. They are like role models to me, especially Bob.”

Last Friday evening, Soulias was one of the top guys for the squad, scoring 15 points, including four 3-pointers, as Ivy Inn topped Sneakers Plus 57-47 to improve to 2-0. In other action on Friday, Clear View Window Cleaning topped Northeast Realty 69-59 and Winberie’s defeated WRG 61-46.

“This is big for us because TCNJ is a real good team,” said Soulias, referring to Sneakers Plus, which is comprised of current College of New Jersey players including former Princeton High standout Skye Ettin.

“I play at Kean so we play them twice a year. They are always real competitive and a bunch of guys on our team used to play for them so it was a personal thing.”

Soulias is enjoying playing hard for Ivy Inn. “It is a good fit,” said the 6‘2, 180-pound Soulias, who averaged 6.1 points a game in his freshman season for Kean.

“This is a great league, I love coming up here. I think I need to keep knocking down open shots and playing hard defense, just helping out and doing what it takes to win.”

In Soulias’s view, the team has what it takes to win the league title. “We need to do a lot of the same stuff we did last year,” said Soulias of Ivy Inn, which topped Ballerz 56-69 on Monday in moving to 3-0.

“We just want to get this one for the older guys, those guys have won a lot. It starts at the defensive end and then getting guys like Mark [Aziz], Bobby [Davison], and Shahid [Abdul-Karim] in the flow and comfortable. If we can do that, we should end up where we were last year.”

SOUL MAN: Ivy Inn’s Tommy Soulias, left, puts the defensive heat on Aaron Thomas in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Hoops league action last summer. Soulias, who just finished his freshman campaign for the Kean University men’s hoops team, has helped Ivy Inn get off to a hot start in 2013. The team posted a 56-49 win over Ballerz on Monday evening to improve to 3-0. In other games on Monday, Dr. Palmer edged Clear View Window Cleaning 62-61 and Sneakers Plus topped the PA Blue Devils 58-47.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SOUL MAN: Ivy Inn’s Tommy Soulias, left, puts the defensive heat on Aaron Thomas in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Hoops league action last summer. Soulias, who just finished his freshman campaign for the Kean University men’s hoops team, has helped Ivy Inn get off to a hot start in 2013. The team posted a 56-49 win over Ballerz on Monday evening to improve to 3-0. In other games on Monday, Dr. Palmer edged Clear View Window Cleaning 62-61 and Sneakers Plus topped the PA Blue Devils 58-47. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jacob Eisenberg readily acknowledges that he is not one of the top offensive threats for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.

But last Wednesday, Eisenberg knocked in two runs with a line drive single up the middle in the bottom of the third inning to help spark a four-run rally as Post 218 overcame a 2-0 deficit and topped Hopewell Post 339 5-2 to earn its first victory of the summer after three straight losses.

“It felt good,” said a smiling Eisenberg, reflecting on his clutch hit. “I went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the last game and I struck out my first at bat today. I am just there, hacking away. I knew that he was going to come in with a fastball and I was just trying to put good contact on it and luckily it found a hole.”

Eisenberg, a former standout pitcher for Princeton Day School who just finished his freshman year at Princeton University, sensed that his unlikely moment of glory turned the tide for Post 218.

“That did get things going; hits are contagious,” said Eisenberg, who also starred as a soccer goalie at PDS and played club soccer this past fall at Princeton. “You get one hit, especially when I get a hit, and everyone feels they can get a hit. I never hit in high school; it is fun to get up there though.”

With Post 218 starting off the season with three one-run defeats, it was fun for the team to pick up a victory.

“This is our first win; it is definitely nice to get that on the board,” said Eisenberg.

“We knew we were playing well in the first three games so we came out and continued what we were doing. Rohit [Chawla] pitched an amazing game. He fooled their hitters; they were off balance the whole time. They did not know what was coming. They hit two balls hard the whole game.”

Eisenberg was proud of the way Princeton came back from the early two-run hole to pull out the win over Hopewell.

“We don’t panic, we don’t get down on ourselves because we know if we just play the way we can play, we can do good things,” said Eisenberg.

“We started chipping away; we had a great two-out rally there and that also shows some character. We are not folding with two outs; we think we can get a hit every time we get to the plate.”

As the summer unfolds, Eisenberg thinks he can help Post 218 on the mound.

“I threw against Broad Street on Sunday [a 4-3 defeat]; that was a good game,” said Eisenberg, who produced a fine pitching effort on Sunday, getting the win as Princeton topped Trenton 12-1 to improve to 2-4.

“I went six innings. It was a tough loss. I have been throwing. There was one kid at school, Chris Harwood, who pitched at Lawrenceville, and we threw a little bit in the spring. I kind of went right for it, my arm was a little extra sore the day after. I was glad to get back out there and get that first one under my belt. Going forward, I feel pretty good.”

Post 218 manager Tommy Parker was glad to see his team get in the win column.

“Like I told the guys before the game, if we maintain our focus and stay upbeat and aggressive, the wins will come,” said Parker, who is in his 24th summer at the helm of the Princeton program.

“The first three games were great games. I think folks are going to be looking at us coming forward. Tonight they put it all together. There were a couple of missteps but instead of getting down on themselves, they picked it up.”

PHS senior star Chawla picked up Post 218, going the distance on the mound.

“Rohit’s pitching was excellent, it was a good effort,” asserted Parker of Chawla, who had five strikeouts and gave up four hits in seven innings of work.

“I asked him how he feels because it is just his second time out in a couple of weeks and he said ‘I am great coach, I am good to go.’ He had a big spring with the Princeton High team and he is building on that. Even in his first outing [a 2-1 loss to West Windsor-Plainsboro], he pitched a great game.”

Princeton came through with some big hits in the victory over Hopewell. “Everybody’s bats started coming alive and I think that was a difference,” asserted Parker, who got RBIs from Jay Barry, Ben Sacco, and Mike Dunlap in addition to the two-run single from Eisenberg.

“In the first three games, the offense was there but not in a timely manner. Today it was timely.”

In Parker’s view, the squad’s breakthrough came at the right time. “This is the kind of win that I think will pick these guys up; they see what can be done,” said Parker.

“It was a total team win. I like the way the old guys are picking up the young guys. We have some nice depth. It was great. It was a feel-good win.”

Eisenberg, for his part, is looking forward to having a great summer with Post 218.

“We knew we were playing well in the last three games coming into today,” said Eisenberg, noting that this will be his final season of Legion ball.

“I am very confident that we can build on this and keep plugging away. It is so much fun. I love coming out here. Nothing can beat summer baseball.”

June 12, 2013
AUSTIN POWERS: Princeton University men’s track star ­Austin Hollimon heads to victory in the 400 hurdles this spring in the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track Championship. Last week, Hollimon wrapped up his stellar Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4x400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

AUSTIN POWERS: Princeton University men’s track star ­Austin Hollimon heads to victory in the 400 hurdles this spring in the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track Championship. Last week, Hollimon wrapped up his stellar Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4×400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

While Austin Hollimon’s proficiency with musical notes in high school as a trombone player had him thinking about attending the Juilliard School of Music, a letter from a coach took his life in a new direction.

“Coming through high school, I was a classic trombonist,” said Hollimon, a native of Decatur, Ga.

“I studied with one of the best teachers in Atlanta; I had been playing since the fifth grade. I didn’t run track sophomore year. The coach at our school, Napoleon Cobb, who had trained Olympians, sent me a letter. He had seen me running in PE class and said I should come out for track because I could do amazing things.”

It didn’t take long for Hollimon to meet Cobb’s expectations. “My parents were skeptical, I did track my junior year and I ran under 48 seconds in the 400 meters,” said Hollimon.

“If you break 48 seconds in the 400 meters, you get on the radar of college programs. I had schools like Michigan, Georgia, and Georgia Tech reaching out to me.”

The Princeton University men’s track team reached out to Hollimon and he came to New Jersey in 2008.

“I was concerned; I was afraid I would come up here and get worse,” said Hollimon, reflecting on his freshman year at Princeton.

“I had seen superstars in high school who came to college and couldn’t match their PR. Mike Eddy, a 400 runner, was my gold standard for work ethic and getting better in the 400.”

Hollimon ended up winning a lot of gold medals for the Tigers, including six Ivy League Heptagonal titles and an NCAA indoor title in the distance medley relay this past winter. Last week, he culminated his Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4×400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.

For Hollimon, getting better and better at track during his college years became a 24/7 enterprise.

“Track for me went from being an activity that I put a lot into, to being a passion that I was committed to,” said Hollimon.

“I wanted to learn the sport. I didn’t just want to work out my body, I studied the sport and I changed my diet.”

In early 2011, Hollimon produced a breakthrough that showed him he could hang with the best in the sport.

“I think in junior year when I ran a 46.4 and dropped my PR from a 46.8 in the very first meet of the season, that is the moment where I realized I could run with the best in the country,” said Hollimon. “All we had done was strength work with only a week of speed work.”

Over his Princeton career, Hollimon has drawn strength from competing on relays.

“I have never run 45 seconds in an open 400 but I always go 45 seconds in a relay,” said Hollimon, who ran the 400 leg for the NCAA champion DMR team.

“There is something powerful about running with your brothers. We were not expected to be able to compete on the national level and yet we won. Running an individual race is great but it is not as fulfilling as competing with your three brothers.”

During his junior year, Hollimon received another missive from coach Cobb which changed his individual focus to the 400 hurdles from the 400.

“Coach Cobb sent me another letter, these letters are serious,” said Hollimon with a laugh.

“In that letter, he said that in order for me to achieve that greatness, I had to be serious and come home and train with him. He thought that by pursuing the hurdles, I could end up being in the Olympics. It would require a return to home to purse this dream. My parents were not going to let me leave without graduating from Princeton My father asked the simple question, he said you have never run hurdles in your life, how is it that you are going to make it to the Olympics?”

Inspired by the example of Edwin Moses, who had never raced in the hurdles before 1976 but went on to win the Olympic gold medal that year in the Montreal Summer Games, Hollimon took two semesters off from school and went home to learn his new event.

“It came naturally; I did my first hurdles race at the Florida Relays and I ran a 50.6 even though I clipped the eight hurdle,” said Hollimon.

“Bershawn Jackson and Johnny Dutch were in the race and I finished third. It showed me that I have some ability to run that race. At the end of the day, if I made it, my life would be revolutionized. If I didn’t, I would be ready to do well at the college level.”

Hollimon ended up making the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials but suffered a setback as he hit a hurdle on his final turn in his opening heat and fell to end up in last place.

“The experience I had was a confidence builder,” asserted Hollimon. “I was right there; if I didn’t hit the seven hurdle I think I would have won that heat. Even though I fell on a national stage and had to deal with media questions in the toughest moment of my life, it was a good experience. I needed to show grace when they asked me how do you feel. I got an outpouring of support from friends and strangers.”

Upon returning to Princeton in January for his final semester, it took Hollimon a while to get up to speed.

“Things didn’t go as well as I had hoped,” said Hollimon. “It was very cold when I got back. I was trying to do some of the training stuff. I didn’t feel my body was responding. It was a challenge to go to class and do the things that college students have to do. I had gotten used to training all the time.”

Utilizing that training, Hollimon won the 400 hurdles at the Outdoor Heps and then went on to clock a time of 51.02 to win his heat at the NCAA East regional and qualify for the national championship meet.

“I was slightly concerned; in the open 400 at the Heps, I had the slowest time I have had in college,” said Hollimon.

“I ran a 48.1 when I was in the 45.6 range. I was confused. I was defending champion in 400 hurdles and I had a good performance. At the regionals, I had an even better time, I was feeling good about my race execution.”

While Hollimon didn’t execute as well as he hoped at the NCAA meet, placing eighth in his heat in 400 hurdles in 54.82 as he was hampered by the flu and then helping the 4×400 take seventh in its heat, his college experience has involved a lot more than success on the track.

“I like the perspective at Princeton; the athletes here are not glorified or deified,” said Hollimon.

“One of the great lessons is that character always counted more around campus than what I did on the track. Who I am is more important than what I do as an athlete. That is a wonderful lesson for me.

Hollimon is taking some important lessons with him as he leaves Princeton.

“I realize that they are teaching us here to teach ourselves,” said Hollimon, who will be taking part in Teach for America in Washington, D.C. as he trains for a shot at the 2016 Summer Olympics

“When I got into the 400 hurdles, I did film study. It is not just the physical; it is the mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is all encompassing.”

In hitting the right note as he shifted his focus to track at Princeton, Hollimon made his high school coach look like a prophet.

Last year, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew first varsity 8 just missed out on making the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) regatta.

The Tigers fell to Syracuse by less that a second for a place in the national championship race as they took fourth in the semis.

At the 2013 IRAs, the Tigers found themselves in a similar spot as they battled Stanford in the semis for third place and the last spot in the grand final.

Learning from last year’s disappointment, Princeton roared past the Cardinals in the last 500 meters and secured third by more than four seconds.

Princeton head coach Greg Hughes was proud of how his top boat responded when the chips were down.

“The semis at the IRAs are some of the most exciting racing at any level of rowing; there are nine or 10 boats fast enough to make the finals and only six spots,” said Hughes.

“We knew we were going to have a real race on our hands and we prepared for that kind of race. Both semis were tough; we were going against some of the Pac 12 boats. They knew each other. Our guys had never raced against them and were excited to test themselves. They rose to the occasion of the race. They really had a gutsy race.”

The Tiger second varsity 8 also took care of business in its semifinal, taking second in a tight race that saw the four top boats separated by 3.06 seconds.

“The 2V was in a really tight race and boats were close the whole way,” said Hughes.

“They were able to keep their spot. You learn a lot in those kind of races, going forward is a great experience.”

While Princeton’s top boats didn’t have the greatest races in the grand finals, they gained some valuable experience. The Tiger first varsity placed sixth while the second varsity finished fourth, missing bronze by 0.21 and silver by 0.83.

As for the first varsity, Hughes liked the way it competed. “Each race is different; we had a sense of how we could race against frontrunners,” said Hughes. “It didn’t play out that way. They rowed a tough, hard piece.”

The second varsity, for its part, left it all on the water. “The 2V had their best piece of the year,” said Hughes. “There were faster boats than us in the race. I wish they had been two tenths of a second faster and got a medal but I have no regrets and neither did they. They really executed everything they tried.”

In Hughes’ view, the execution across the board at the IRA regatta demonstrates progress.

“It was great to have two boats make the finals; last year we didn’t make any of the grand finals,” said Hughes.

“We have 13 rowers coming back from the top two boats so that is a good foundation going forward. They need to remember the things they did right and the things that they didn’t do right. They can’t stay the same.”

Hughes will always remember the role the seniors played in getting the program back on the right track.

“It was my most fun season in terms of boats being brave and taking risks,” said Hughes, whose varsity 8 featured seniors Michael Evans, Brian Wettach, and coxswain Keanan Clark.

“The seniors had a good long four years. The program is headed in the right direction. There was a different environment at the boathouse this year, the guys were excited to be there everyday and the credit for that goes to the seniors. The other guys get to come back and you never know what is going to happen. I would like to bring the seniors along with us.”

FAMILY MATTERS: Cammie Linville heads up the field in action this spring for the Lafayette College women’s lacrosse team. The former Princeton Day School standout Linville just wrapped up a superb career with the Leopards, which saw her serve as team captain and earn Academic All-Patriot League honors. Linville is the third generation of her family to star for Lafayette sports teams as her grandfather, Wilbur Oaks, was a soccer standout for the Leopards while her mother, Cindy, played lacrosse and field hockey at Lafayette and her father, Jud, starred for the men’s lax team. (Photo Courtesy of Lafayette’s Office of Athletic Communications)

FAMILY MATTERS: Cammie Linville heads up the field in action this spring for the Lafayette College women’s lacrosse team. The former Princeton Day School standout Linville just wrapped up a superb career with the Leopards, which saw her serve as team captain and earn Academic All-Patriot League honors. Linville is the third generation of her family to star for Lafayette sports teams as her grandfather, Wilbur Oaks, was a soccer standout for the Leopards while her mother, Cindy, played lacrosse and field hockey at Lafayette and her father, Jud, starred for the men’s lax team.
(Photo Courtesy of Lafayette’s Office of Athletic Communications)

For Cammie Linville, being around Lafayette College sports produced some indelible childhood memories.

“Growing up, I was always at Lafayette, going to soccer games and dressed up in Lafayette stuff,” said Princeton native Linville, whose mother, Cindy, played lacrosse and field hockey at Lafayette and father, Jud, starred for the men’s lax team.

“My grandfather was always going to soccer games, he was a big supporter of that program. He was a soccer player and captain when he went to Lafayette.”

When Linville matured into a lacrosse star at Princeton Day School, she was initially hesitant to follow in her family tradition.

“I cancelled out Lafayette as a junior because of the coaching staff,” said Linville. “I actually did consider other schools.”

But a coaching change led Linville to reconsider following her family tradition.

“When the new coach Alison Fisher came, I got interested again,” said Linville.

“She was a Princeton assistant; she sold me on how the program was going to change. She was a Lafayette alum and I thought that was a plus.”

Linville ended up going to Lafayette and emerged as a big plus for the program, serving as a sole team captain this spring as a senior, helping the Leopards enjoy a 9-9 season as they made their first appearance in the Patriot League tournament since 2004.

When Linville started her Lafayette career, she was a long way from any postseason play as the Leopards struggled to a 3-14 season in 2010.

“Lacrosse-wise, the speed of the game was the biggest adjustment,” said Linville, who tallied 12 goals and three assists as a freshman.

“It is so much faster, it is not even comparable. The strength of the other players is a big difference.  The fall scrimmages were a rude awakening.”

Linville’s transition to college lax was aided by going through it along with longtime friend and former Hun School standout Addie Godfrey.

“I committed in July and Addie was still looking at a ton of schools,” recalled Linville.

“When I was going on my official visit in August I told her she should come with me. She did and I kind of convinced her. We were in preschool and we went through elementary school together and then I went to PDS and she went to Hun. Our parents are best friends. It absolutely helped with my adjustment, people can struggle with their freshman roommates. It brought home to school, it was nice to have someone there to support you.”

After going through another three-win season in 2011, Lafayette made some nice strides in Linville’s junior year as the team improved to 9-8.

“It was such a game changer, it put us on the map,” said Linville, who had eight goals and two assists in the campaign.

“The goal was to make the Patriot tournament. It was a huge step for us to beat American. It showed how good we could be. No one thought we could win that game.”

The Leopards fell one win short of making the Patriot League tournament that spring, losing 8-7 to Holy Cross in their finale to finish fifth in the conference standings.

“We lost in the last couple of seconds and just missed the tournament,” recalled Linville. “As much as that hurt, it gave us drive for this season.”

Linville was primed to assume a big role this spring, getting chosen as the sole captain of the Leopards, following in the footsteps of her grandfather and parents, who also served as team captains during their college days.

“It definitely meant a lot; I had always hoped I would be a captain,” said Linville, who was also involved in the school’s 360 Oaks Leadership Academy, which was named after her grandfather, Wilbur Oaks.

“I was on the team’s leadership council since I was a freshman so I was on that path. We had such a good group of seniors, they were all leaders and they supported me.”

With the seniors leading the way, Lafayette produced a 4-0 start and entered its season finale at Colgate needing a win to make the Patriot tourney. This time. Lafayette came through, edging the Raiders 9-7.

“Going up there, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t leave anything on the field,” said Linville.

“We had the confidence that we could win. The coach prepared us really well. The pressure was on them, they needed to win to get into the tournament and they had gone every year since it was started. It was also their Senior Day. We played so well, we held the ball, we finished our shots. It was an amazing feeling when the whistle blew.”

While the Leopards lost 9-8 to nationally-ranked Navy in the Patriot semis, they produced an amazing effort.

“I think we brought confidence; we felt like we played well the first time against Navy even though we lost by seven goals,” said Linville.

“We had nothing to lose and they were definitely overlooking us. We came out and left everything on the field. It was the best game I have ever seen a Lafayette team play in my years with the program. Everyone was committed and everyone worked so hard. We had no substitutes because we were carried by the adrenaline. Even though we lost by one, it showed the classes below us what we can do. It showed how far we had come from freshmen year and what can happen if you work that hard.”

Over her Lafayette career, Linville worked hard on developing her leadership skills.

“I think as a person, I grew a lot as a leader,” said Linville. “I faced adversity and learned how to deal with it. I was a captain in high school and that was easy when we went undefeated in the regular season. This was a lot harder. It is hard to lose that many games. As a D-1 athlete, you show that commitment and you put so much work into it.”

Linville’s commitment extended into the classroom, as she worked hard to become a top student.

“I was a little worried; I wasn’t that great a student at PDS,” said Linville.

“The coach set the tone, she really supported us as student athletes. The class sizes were small and you were able to build relationships with teachers. They were always supportive of my sports, sending us e-mails after wins and going to games.”

Utilizing that support, Linville ended up earning Academic All-Patriot League honors, posting a 3.76 GPA during her Lafayette career.

“I figured out how to handle the academics and the sports,” said Linville, who is starting a job with the JP Morgan sales and trading program this month in New York City.

“It was difficult at first, I learned time management. It was special to recognized by the league, there are so many good schools.”

And there is no doubt that Linville has added to her family’s special Lafayette legacy.

ADDING VALUE: Lafayette College women’s lacrosse star attacker Addie Godfrey heads to goal during a game this season. Former Hun School standout Godfrey helped get the Leopard program on the right track, scoring 218 points on 185 goals and 33 assists over her career as Lafayette went from three wins in 2010 to a 9-9 record this spring and its first appearance in the Patriot League tournament since 2004.(Photo Courtesy of Lafayette’s Office of Athletic Communications)

ADDING VALUE: Lafayette College women’s lacrosse star attacker Addie Godfrey heads to goal during a game this season. Former Hun School standout Godfrey helped get the Leopard program on the right track, scoring 218 points on 185 goals and 33 assists over her career as Lafayette went from three wins in 2010 to a 9-9 record this spring and its first appearance in the Patriot League tournament since 2004. (Photo Courtesy of Lafayette’s Office of Athletic Communications)

As Addie Godfrey joined the Lafayette College women’s lacrosse program in 2009, she had no delusions of grandeur.

“When I committed to Lafayette in the fall of my senior year in high school, I knew I was not going to a top 10 team that was going to be playing for an NCAA championship,” said former Hun School standout Godfrey.

“I was committing to a challenge. I dedicated myself to getting it back to where it was 10 years ago.”

Emerging as a go-to scorer for the Leopards, Godfrey’s dedication helped the program progress to the point where it made the Patriot League tournament this spring in her senior season.

In her first two seasons, it looked like the challenge may be even greater than Godfrey imagined as Lafayette went 6-27, winning just three games each year.

“We were a very young team, playing mainly freshmen and sophomores,” said Godfrey, who was the Patriot League women’s
lacrosse Rookie of the Year in 2010.

“When you are playing six freshmen against teams with a bunch of upperclassmen it is going to be tough. It comes down to experience.”

Going through the tough times in those two seasons helped Lafayette break through with a 9-8 season in 2012.

“Once we got to my junior year, we had more juniors and sophomores out there,” said Godfrey.

“Everyone had at least one year of experience under their belt. I think junior year, we beat Duquesne. We were leaving for spring break the next day and we knew Duquesne was a good team. They were predicted to beat us. We had no idea of what they were like. We ended up winning in OT, it showed that we could play with a good team and win.”

The high scoring attacker showed she could play with the best in the league that spring, scoring a team high 68 points on 59 goals and nine assists to earn first-team All-Patriot honors.

“I think it had to do with the support I had around me on attack,” said Godfrey, reflecting on her accolades.

“We had a lot more versatility and more people taking it to the cage, which made things easier for me. It was a great honor; it meant a lot to the program. It showed that we were getting back on track and the other coaches were noticing it.”

The Leopards, though, didn’t get into the Patriot tourney in 2012 as they fell 8-7 to Holy Cross in their final regular season game to miss out on the postseason.

“It was definitely heartbreaking, the second we lost, our minds went straight to next fall and getting back on the field and getting things right,” said Godfrey, in assessing the setback which saw her tally three goals and an assist. “We knew that we were going not going to let that happen again.”

Coming into the spring, Lafayette wasn’t going to be denied, showing its intentions by winning its first four games.

“We expected ourselves to get to the tournament, there wasn’t that sense of this could be my last game,” said Godfrey.

“We never panicked. We were all about commitment. The 4-0 start was huge. We haven’t started like that in a long time. When you only win three games in each of your first two years that showed we are moving in the right direction.”

Godfrey showed a deep commitment this spring as she played through pain resulting from a nagging knee injury.

“I had stitches in my knee for half the season,” said Godfrey. “I fell directly on my knee and had 10 stitches just below my kneecap. I was able to keep running because they weren’t directly on my knee. I ended up having to leave Senior Day at halftime because the stitches came out. I ended up missing a game; that was tough, I hadn’t missed a game since freshman year. We had a great training staff, they put a kneepad on it and I was fine after that.”

The Leopards enjoyed a great finish as they topped Colgate 9-7 in their regular season finale to clinch a spot on the Patriot tourney for the first time since 2004.

“That was a wonderful day,” said Godfrey, who had a goal and an assist in the win. “We had played Penn State two days before; they were a top 10 team and had a good first half. We were confident. Every single person who got on that bus was so confident; we knew we were going to win. That was probably the best feeling I have had at Lafayette. When we went to Colgate, there was a good vibe, everybody felt great; it meant the world to me, my teammates, the coaching staff and the parents.”

Although Lafayette fell 9-8 to nationally ranked Navy in the Patriot semis, Godfrey has fond memories of the game.

“We went into that game with pretty much the same feeling we had against Colgate,” said Godfrey, who earned second team All-Patriot honors this spring as she tallied 63 points on 52 goals and 11 assists.

“We knew they were looking past us and thinking about being in the NCAAs. Everyone felt there was no doubt that we could win; we were all on the same page. Every single player had the game of her life. That game is the reason you play sports. Yes I wish we could have won because I think the championship would have been ours. It was just an incredible game.”

For Godfrey, having childhood friend and former Princeton Day School foe Cammie Linville as a teammate the last four years helped her on and off the field.

“Playing with Cammie was the greatest sports experience I have had,” said Godfrey, a four-time All-Patriot selection who ended her Leopard career with 218 points on 185 goals and 33 assists.

“We grew up together; the whole Linville family was there for me. Cammie was our sole captain this season and there was a lot of adversity, I don’t know if we could have gotten through it without her leadership. We roomed together all four years.”

Reflecting on her years at Lafayette, Godfrey gained more than she initially imagined from taking on the challenge of helping the program get headed back in the right direction

“I think as an athlete, I learned commitment,” said Godfrey. “You can’t play a D-1 sport and not be committed. I learned to love lacrosse and being on a team. The team was incredible this year. This was one of those seasons that will stick with me forever. It feels so good to have ended this way, I am so lucky. Even though we didn’t get in the NCAA tournament, I wouldn’t change a thing, I am completely happy with being at Lafayette.”

sports5Setting a program record this spring with 11 victories, the Princeton High softball team was looking to make more history as it played Northern Burlington in the state tournament.

“Even though we were a 14th seed and they were No. 3, we were confident we could stay with them,” said PHS head coach Dave Boehm.

The Little Tigers did stay with the Greyhounds in the early going of the Central Jersey Group III opening round contest as the teams were knotted in a scoreless tie through three innings.

But things got away from PHS as the Little Tigers gave up six runs in the fourth and four in the 10th to suffer a 10-0 defeat.

“We had a throwing error and that led to six runs; the roof fell in,” said Boehm, whose team finished the spring with an 11-12 record.

“I wish we would have hit a little better. They had a lefty and we hadn’t seen that all spring. It is a different look with different movement on the ball. It was a little disappointing. I told the girls afterward that I was very proud of them but that wasn’t the ending I wanted for the seniors.”

The team’s core of seniors led the way in PHS’s record-breaking season as Wisconsin-bound Marisa Gonzalez batted a team-high .492 while senior Hannah Gutierrez hit .402 with a team-high 16 RBIs. Other members of the Class of 2013 ended on a high note as Charlotte Heller posted a .302 average with 13 RBIs, Maddie Cahill-Sanidas hit .253 with 14 RBIs, and Helen Eisenach batted .246 with 13 RBIs.

“The seniors had seven girls who came in as freshmen, five of them made varsity,” said Boehm.

“Hannah and Charlotte were on JV but they improved and became very important players for us. I am very proud that they stuck with us for four years. It is not easy when the team isn’t winning a lot of games.”

Gonzalez leaves PHS as one of the greatest players in program history, setting a record for career hits and batting around .500 her last three seasons.

“Marisa ended up with 143 hits,” said Boehm. “She has not only excelled on the field, in practices we utilized her to work with younger players.”

The Little Tigers do have some excellent young players returning, highlighted by sophomore pitcher Sarah Eisenach, who posted an ERA of 3.77 this spring with 128 strikeouts in 141 innings pitched. Freshman Kelli Swedish started in left field while classmate Stephanie Wu emerged as a solid third baseman.

“We have six holes to fill; it is going to be tough because we have to replace catcher, shortstop, and center field,” said Boehm.

“Having Sarah at pitcher is a good place to start. Emily DiLella can go to first if Liana Bloom doesn’t play a lot there. Katie Kanter can move in at catcher. Julia Tarantino should be able to lock down an outfield spot and hopefully help Sarah with the pitching.”

After what the program accomplished this spring, the returning players will have bigger goals to go after.

“We had really talked about getting to 10 last year,” said Boehm. “We got to nine this spring and we had five tough games left. They really wanted to be the first team to get to 10. They have set the bar higher. Now a team will have to go for 12 and probably need to win a division title.”

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Louise Hutter heads up the field in action this spring. Senior star Hutter’s stellar work on defense this season helped PDS post a final mark of 6-7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Louise Hutter heads up the field in action this spring. Senior star Hutter’s stellar work on defense this season helped PDS post a final mark of 6-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team lost three of its last four games this spring, Jill Thomas had no qualms with the effort she got from her players.

“I thought we played some really tough games down the stretch,” said PDS head coach Thomas, who guided her team to a 6-7 mark this season.

“We were down 15-4 at half to Kent Place in the Prep A tournament and came back to make it a close game. We gave Princeton High a run for their money in the county quarters.  We had a good game with Peddie. Hannah Levy got the 150th goal of her career in that game; it was one of 10 goals she had that day.”

The Panthers competed hard throughout the spring, posting impressive wins over Blair Academy, Hun School, and Rutgers Prep along the way.

“Nobody crushed us, Lawrenceville beat us by four, said Thomas, whose team topped Hightstown 12-2 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. “We are back on the right track.”

The team’s group of seniors set the right tone this spring for PDS. “The seniors did so much to bring the team back to the team,” asserted Thomas, whose Class of 2013 included Ellen Bartolino, Zeeza Cole, Lizzie Frieder, Louise Hutter. Carolyn Kussow, Hannah Levy, Cami McNeely, Sarah Trigg, and Connie Urisko.

“Zeeza was a great leader, after not playing the whole season last year, she finished on a high. Corinne was solid and worked hard. Hannah was great and she is going on to play at MIT. She and Corinne made first team All-Prep A this spring. They finished their careers and finished them well. They enjoyed being with the team for all four years; there was a lot of camaraderie.”

In Thomas’ view, there is a lot of reason for hope going forward with a number of good players returning.

“We have a lot of juniors coming back and they are good,” said Thomas, noting that juniors Sarah Brennan and Mary Travers emerged as stars this spring.

“[Morgan] Foster and [Kirsten] Kuzmicz are very good. If the four freshmen stay together, they are going to be good. Tess [Gecha], Rowan [Schomburg], Hope [Anhut] and Kate [Laughlin] know what it takes.

The younger PDS players learned some good lessons this spring that should come in handy down the road.

“If you work hard, then the sky is the limit,” said Thomas. “If you want to be good, you have to work hard. The seniors worked them pretty hard. They know the game is fast.”

HEALTHY PACE: Chris Martin heads to the finish line last Sunday at Princeton’s Weaver Stadium in winning the Princeton Healthcare 10k Run. Lawrenceville resident Martin clocked a time of 35:13 and placed first of 551 finishers.

HEALTHY PACE: Chris Martin heads to the finish line last Sunday at Princeton’s Weaver Stadium in winning the Princeton Healthcare 10k Run. Lawrenceville resident Martin clocked a time of 35:13 and placed first of 551 finishers.

Chris Martin and Susan Kinsella were both making debut efforts last Sunday in the Princeton Healthcare 10k Run.

“This is the first time I have done this race, believe it or not, even though I have been in the area since ’99,” said Martin, 37, a resident of Lawrenceville.

“I used to do triathlons and this is the peak of the triathlon season. I have retired from triathlons for a while. My wife and I started to settle down and have kids. I have known about the race for a long time. I have come here to cheer on friends. I figured it is one of those things I should do someday.”

For Kinsella, 49, a resident of Millington, the Healthcare 10k was her first race at the 6.2 mile distance.

“This is the first 10k I have ever done,” said Kinsella. “I have done 5ks and I did the Boston Marathon this year.”

The pair looked like 10k veterans as Martin won the race in a time of 35:13 while Kinsella placed 14th overall and was the top female finisher in 41:55. The race drew 551 runners who were undeterred by the muggy conditions which saw 75 percent humidity as the event got underway just after 8 a.m.

Martin, who grew up in Arizona, kept his mind off the humidity as he dueled at the front of the pack with friend Chris Sallane.

“He kept me going,” said Martin of Princeton resident Sallane, who finished second with a time of 35:28.

“I am not a runner so I have no sprint whatsoever. At the very start, I felt sluggish going up the hill. I spent the first mile just trying to bridge back up to him. We ran together for about three miles; we were chatting and catching up. After four miles, we were going up a hill and I just started pulling away a little bit. I could hear him behind me the whole way.”

The victory will help keep Martin going through the heat over the next few months.

“It is a good confidence boost; it keeps me motivated to train through the summer,” said Martin, a program manager at SRI International.

“The summer is a long time; there is a lot of training to do. When you get a few good results, it motivates you to get out the door at 5 in the morning before work to put in those miles.”

Kinsella, for her part, was motivated to see how fast she could cover 10k.

“I did a 5k last week,” said Kinsella, noting that she clocked a time of 20:24 in the 3.1 mile event. “Since I had never done a 10k before, I wanted to break 45:00.”

While Kinsella easily hit her time goal, she was surprised to end up as the top female finisher.

“For a while I was in a pack and then I was by myself,” said Kinsella. “There was one guy who finished right behind me. He was in front of me a lot of the time. I didn’t realize I was the first woman.”

Buoyed by her success, Kinsella is planning to push herself through the summer and into the fall.

“I had been doing weekly mileage of low-to-mid 20s since Boston,” said Kinsella, who had finished the Boston Marathon before the bomb explosions and plans to run in that event next year.

“I got a stress fracture training for Boston and I haven’t really been doing any speed work because of the that. I might do another marathon. I didn’t get into New York so I might do Philly.”

Martin has his sights set on another running debut. “I am just doing running,” said Martin.

“Right now I am at about 80-90 miles a week. My goal this fall is to do my first ultramarathon. I haven’t done anything like that. I am going to the JFK, it is in western Maryland and it is 50 miles.”

June 5, 2013
FINAL STATEMENT: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 powers to the finish in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the senior-laden boat ended the season on a high note, taking second in the grand final at the NCAA championship regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The boat’s performance helped Princeton take third overall in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California. (Photo Courtesy of PU Crew/Tom Nowak)

FINAL STATEMENT: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 powers to the finish in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the senior-laden boat ended the season on a high note, taking second in the grand final at the NCAA championship regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The boat’s performance helped Princeton take third overall in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California.
(Photo Courtesy of PU Crew/Tom Nowak)

While Lori Dauphiny was excited to see her Princeton University women’s open crew compete at the NCAA championship regatta last weekend, there was a tinge of sadness as the program’s seniors wrapped up their college careers.

“The senior class brought tremendous leadership, much of it by example, especially senior year,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny, who is in her 17th year guiding the program and led the varsity 8 to national titles in 2006 and 2011.

“They had ups and downs and put issues aside and were united as a group. They decided they were going to lead and that started in the fall. I am really appreciative of what they did.”

That positive group dynamic paved the way to a superb performance at the NCAAs as Princeton took third in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California in the regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

“I am really proud of the team coming in third; we were the only Ivy team in the top 4,” said Dauphiny of the competition which included two varsity 8s and a varsity 4.

“That is something they had been shooting for. I am pleased with that; it just shows that everyone put something into the team being better, even those who were not there at the national championships. Even though not every boat was in the grand final, everyone performed at their best at the critical times.”

The senior-laden first varsity 8 performed well throughout the regatta. The top boat cruised to a win in its opening heat on Friday, topping runner-up UCLA by more than five seconds. In the semis a day later, Princeton encountered some rough water but finished in a strong second behind Ohio State, easily booking a place in Sunday’s grand final.

In the race for the gold, the Tigers didn’t waste any time showing their intentions as they led at the 500 and 1,000 meter marks. Cal made a move in the third 500 and edged ahead of Princeton. The Golden Bears were able to hold on for the win with a time of 6:21.43 over the 2,000-meter course, edging the Tigers by 1.17 seconds.

“It was awesome, it was courageous, it was bold,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the grand final.

“I was extremely pleased and proud of them. It was hard to not come out in first but there is no doubt that it was their best race and they poured it out.”

Dauphiny acknowledged that she was taken aback by her top boat’s blazing start. “It was not our plan to be that far out,” said Dauphiny of her top boat which was spearheaded by a quartet of seniors in Gabby Cole, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Heidi Robbins and also included juniors Annie Prasad, Kelsey Reelick, Angie Gould, and Kathryn Irwin together with freshman Erin Reelick.

“We thought we could have a good first 500 and build on our base speed. It is not unusual for that boat to start like that. They notched it up a level.”

The second varsity (2V) had to take things up a notch in the semis as it edged Virginia at the finish line to take third and earn a spot in the grand final.

“The 2V had an amazing race,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the semi which saw the Tigers clock a time of 6:55.26 with Virginia coming in at 6:55.52.

“It was dead level with an exchange of boats and no one boat really taking the lead. It was a photo finish and we were lucky we took that last stroke and got our bow ahead of Virginia.  That was their best race of the competition.”

In the grand final, the 2V faded to sixth, posting a time of 6:33.46, nearly six seconds behind champion Ohio State.

“They were disappointed but they did their best,” said Dauphiny, assessing the 2V’s final performance.

“It was the product of the dynamics of their race. They were on the edge on lane 1 and it was a challenge to not be in the middle. They did a nice job. They had a very difficult go at the Ivies. Bouncing back from that and turning it around going forward wasn’t easy.”

The varsity 4 had a tough time in its semifinal, missing third by an eyelash as Washington State edged the Tigers by 0.21. Princeton bounced back with a solid effort in the petite final as it took second behind Cal.

“The V4 needed another 10 meters,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the semi. “They really poured it on in the last 300 meters. It was just not far enough for them. They were disappointed to be in the petite final but they had a good race.”

Dauphiny credits her Class of 2013 for pouring everything it had into their last weekend and hopes that effort will inspire those who follow.

“This senior class is really special,” said Dauphiny, noting that seniors Sarah Wiley and Astrid Wettstein competed in the 4 last weekend while the 2V included their classmate Sara Kushma.

“They are really going to be missed. It was a fantastic end. They gave everything they had. I am not sure what we are going to do without them. We have a good freshman class coming in but they haven’t done anything yet.”

MORSS CODE: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower Alex Morss competes in a race this spring. Last Sunday, senior star and captain Morss ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

MORSS CODE: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower Alex Morss competes in a race this spring. Last Sunday, senior star and captain Morss ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

With her family history, Alex Morss seemed destined to end up at Princeton University.

Both of her parents are Princeton alums along with her grandfather, an aunt, and an uncle.

But as a star soccer player and rower at the Groton School (Mass.), Morss had mixed feelings about following the family tradition. “Initially I didn’t want to look at Princeton because everyone had gone there,” said Morss.

Morss had a chance to attend Williams College where she could compete in both soccer and crew or she could come to Princeton and just do rowing.

“I visited Princeton and I realized that I would really like it,” said Rassam. “I really liked the lightweight crew coach Paul Rassam and the team.”

In the end, Morss added to her family legacy, deciding to attend Princeton and focus on rowing. Morss emerged as a star and captain for the Princeton lightweight program.

Last Sunday, she ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.

In reflecting on her Princeton years, Morss views her rowing experience as a major highlight.

“I think that the boathouse and crew had been one of the fantastic parts of my Princeton years,” said Morss, whose father Stephen, was a lightweight rower for the Tigers.

“I really enjoyed being in the 8. It is one thing to be fast on the erg (ergometer), it is another thing to have eight people working together, getting connected.”

Coming in as a freshman in 2009, Morss worked hard to make an impact. “They had given us summer workouts and I did everything,” recalled Morss.

“I was in pretty good shape when I got to Princeton. I felt like it was a pretty smooth transition.

Things went very smoothly in Morss’ sophomore year as the Tigers won the Eastern Sprints and placed second at the IRAs, narrowly losing to Stanford in the grand final.

“I learned how to scull that summer and having a complete year under my belt gave me a better idea of the college scene,” said Morss.

“We went to the Head of Charles and had a good race. The workouts were harder; the boat had a lot of speed. Winning sprints was so great. The great thing was the a day before the final someone had to leave the boat and we had a new lineup. We had one day to practice with the lineup. The seniors were such great leaders; they made sure that we still raced well.”

Morss’ junior campaign didn’t go so well as the Tigers underwent a rebuilding season, taking fifth in both the Eastern Sprints and the IRA regatta.

“That was really hard; I had an injury and was out most of the fall; another captain had an injury and was out most of the fall,” said Morss.

“We pretty much had to start over in the winter. The attitude and determination was there. It took a little time. We only had eight people but we were still pretty competitive. We kept getting faster, no one gave up. A lot of it was attitude, the season could have been a disaster. We only had three returners and we had a novice cox. We kept fighting.”

Last summer, Morss took her fighting spirit to the international stage as she competed at the U-23 World Championships in Trakai, Lithuania in the U.S. women’s lightweight single sculls.

“That was a lot of fun, I wasn’t even planning on trying out for the team,” said Morss, who placed 15th overall at the regatta.

“I was working in Princeton last summer and my high school coach said I should try out. I borrowed a single and I went to the trials. I was able to get a couple of weeks off from the lab to compete.”

While Morss would have preferred to finish higher at the U-23 competition, the experience proved to be great preparation for her final college campaign.

“It was competing at a whole new level,” said Morss. “You know the other teams in college and the boats aren’t so deep.  You see the top people in the world and you see how good they are and how hard you have to work.  I am so glad I did that and randomly went to the trials. I was motivated to get to a higher level. I saw how important technique is. People are pretty similar physically but good technique can save you seconds.”

As the team captain for Princeton this season, Morss tried to pass on her experience to her younger teammates.

“I thought about other captains and what worked and didn’t work for them,” said Morss.

“I am always someone who works hard. I am not loud, I try to set a good example. I wanted to work hard right from the start in the fall. I know people can get overwhelmed so I try to make sure that everyone is on the same page.”

The Tigers were on the same page this spring, opening the season with a win over perennial power Wisconsin and going on to finish second in the San Diego Crew Classic, third at the Invitational Lightweight Cup, and second at the Eastern Sprints before the fifth place finish in the national championship regatta.

“I could feel something but you never know until you race,” said Morss, reflecting on the boat’s progress this season.

“The improvement came over winter and on spring break. I think we are definitely improving. The starts have gotten better; we are working on all aspects of the race.”

As Morss leaves Prince
ton, she is not ready to stop racing. “I am going to keep rowing; I am going to the U-23 camp and I would like to be on a boat with others,” said Morss. “It got a little lonely last summer.”

No matter where Morss’ rowing takes her, she has certainly added a special chapter to her family’s Princeton tradition.

CRIMSON TIDE: Mariel Jenkins heads up the field in action this spring in her senior season for the Harvard women’s lacrosse team. The former Princeton Day School standout ended her college career on a high note, earning second-team All-Ivy League honors as she scored two goals this spring for the Crimson and had 15 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers. (Photo by Gil Talbot, Courtesy of Harvard’s Office of Athletic Communications)

CRIMSON TIDE: Mariel Jenkins heads up the field in action this spring in her senior season for the Harvard women’s lacrosse team. The former Princeton Day School standout ended her college career on a high note, earning second-team All-Ivy League honors as she scored two goals this spring for the Crimson and had 15 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers.
(Photo by Gil Talbot, Courtesy of Harvard’s Office of Athletic Communications)

For Mariel Jenkins, blazing speed was her calling card as she starred for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team and then joined the Harvard women’s squad.

After a promising debut season for the Crimson in 2010, defender Jenkins hit a major road bump in the fall of her sophomore year.

“In practice I was going for a ground ball and it felt like someone had shot me in the knee,” said Jenkins, who suffered a cartilage injury that required micro-fracture surgery. “I had to get my kneecap drilled; I was on crutches for eight weeks.”

While Jenkins was frustrated to be sidelined that spring, she took some steps that helped her become a better player in the long run.

“I stood alongside the coaches all spring,” recalled Jenkins. “I learned so much being out there and seeing what the coaches do. When you are in one spot, you see the field from that position. I was able to get a broader perspective. My biggest thing was clearing the ball. I looked at where spaces opened up on the field. I had strategies in my head.”

Upon her return as a junior, Jenkins applied that new perspective and earned All-Ivy League honorable mention honors in 2012 as she piled up 17 ground balls and three caused turnovers. This spring, Jenkins ended her career with a bang, getting named as a second-team All-Ivy performer.

Earning that accolade in her final campaign was the culmination of the process that started with Jenkins’ injury.

“I was really excited, it is always nice to get recognition,” said Jenkins, who scored two goals this spring with 15 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers.

“I had one year where I had no statistics. It was nice to come back and work hard and see that get recognized. It was great to be in a group with so many good players.”

As a grade schooler, Jenkins wasn’t working toward becoming a great athlete. “I actually danced ballet all of my life,” said Jenkins.

“I was a dancer. I started sports late. I didn’t pick up a stick, field hockey or lacrosse, until 6th or 7th grade. I was going down the path of being a dancer. I fell in love with field hockey and lacrosse in gym class.”

By the time she got to PDS, Jenkins had shifted her focus. “In high school, I just played sports,” said Jenkins, who also starred for the Panther field hockey team.

“I didn’t think about playing in college until I started playing with Tri-State all stars. There were lot of good players there and everyone was looking to play D-1. Some coaches started reaching out to me.”

Deciding that Harvard had a similar feeling to hometown Princeton but in a more urban environment, Jenkins headed to Cambridge.

Upon hitting the field in college, Jenkins realized that she was going against some very good players. “It is so much faster and the stick skills are unbelievable,” said Jenkins.

“A lot of people are ambidextrous and shoot equally well with either hand. The chemistry and coordination on offense is so much better because you practice more.”

In keeping pace, Jenkins outran her weaknesses. “One thing that helped me was foot speed,” said the slender 5‘5 Jenkins.

“It was good that I was fast because it made up for my stick skills. I relied on my speed. When I talk to a high school player, I tell them to play more wall ball and work on going left-handed.”

In returning from her knee injury, Jenkins put in extra effort to get the most out of her final two seasons of lacrosse.

“I eased back into it in fall ball, which was good,” said Jenkins. “I had no problems with the knee after that. That fall, we changed the way we practiced. We did more individual work. I was able to cultivate my defensive skills. Being injured, I came out and worked harder. I missed playing. I had in my head that I had two years to play the sport that I love and I worked 20 times harder.”

While Harvard had a hard season in 2013 as it went 3-11 overall and 2-5 in Ivy play, Jenkins still enjoyed the spring.

“We had a six-person senior class; we love to play together,” said Jenkins.

“The freshman group really helped. We had an amazing amount of team chemistry. I never have been on a team that tight. The record didn’t show it. We had some close losses.”

In Jenkins’ view, the Crimson should have a better record going forward.

“I was the only senior on low defense playing with three freshmen,” said Jenkins.

“The freshmen can be good, but having a year under your belt makes a difference. We were playing against teams that were more experienced. We saw that we were so young; there are some good things to come. I think in the last game against Columbia [an 18-11 win] we showed the improvement.”

For Jenkins, playing lacrosse proved to be one of the best things she did at Harvard.

“I could not have imagined my college experience without it,” said Jenkins, whose Harvard experience was also enhanced by the presence on campus of younger sister Sydney, a rising junior and field hockey star for the Crimson.

“It was the No. 1 positive thing that I did. It was one big learning experience and I made some of the closest friends I will ever have. I think managing time was the biggest thing that I learned. You learn to compartmentalize. There was the camaraderie aspect, the seniors are going off to different cities but we will stay in contact, we are really close.”

Jenkins, for her part, is heading off to New York City where she will be applying those lessons in working for Morgan Stanley.

“I became very interested in why people make decisions in their investments,” said Jenkins, a psychology major.

“I will be on the sales and trading desk. My desk will be in the middle of the trading floor. It will be fast-paced and competitive. At the end of the day, there is a score. It is really competitive. I like to see where I compare, that is the athlete in me.”

IN STRIDE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Ciara Celestin heads up the field in PHS’s 12-9 win over Sparta in the North Jersey Group III sectional semifinals. Last Wednesday, second-seeded PHS fell 16-8 to top-seeded Mendham in the sectional title game. The defeat left PHS with a final record of 18-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN STRIDE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Ciara Celestin heads up the field in PHS’s 12-9 win over Sparta in the North Jersey Group III sectional semifinals. Last Wednesday, second-seeded PHS fell 16-8 to top-seeded Mendham in the sectional title game. The defeat left PHS with a final record of 18-4.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team trailed Mendham by three goals last Wednesday in the North Jersey Group III sectional final, Ciara Celestin wasn’t concerned.

“In our Sparta game on Thursday; we were down at halftime,” said PHS senior defender Celestin, referring to PHS’s 12-9 win over Sparta in the sectional semis.

“Usually we get frantic when that happens but we came back and won that game so our mentality was like let’s just go out and do the same thing we did last week.”

Unfortunately the second-seeded Little Tigers couldn’t produce the same kind of rally as top-seeded Mendham pulled away to a 16-8 victory.

“I think they started to win the draws and that is when we usually go downhill,” said Celestin.

“When we play our best is when we win the draws. I think it was getting on the ground and we weren’t getting to the ground balls quick enough. I don’t know if we got tired. I commend them, they were great.”

PHS certainly had a commendable season as it ended with a final record of 18-4 in making its trip to the sectional finals for the first time this century.

“It was a great last season for me as a senior; I am so proud of everyone,” said Celestin.

“I was really happy with how everyone played. We had an early loss to North [WW/P-N] and we knew they were going to be a tough team; we have always had a rivalry with them. We picked it back up. We had a defeat to Allentown, that was two losses early on. I think sometimes that can get to a team but we just kept trucking through the season. We had our second North game in counties [an 18-14 loss in the semis] and that was a little bit worse than the first one I think. After that, it was just game time. We are in states now; we have to work hard. We played our best at the end.”

Celestin and her classmates Olivia Kelly and Madison Luther worked hard to provide leadership to the end.

“None of us are the standout players, we are not Emilia [Lopez-Ona] or Liz Jacobs and we know that so we went into the season looking to be positive and being the moms of the team,” said Celestin.

“We knew we didn’t have to be the stars on the field but we needed to keep things positive and just get everyone on the same page and keep it going. I think that is more the role that we had.”

PHS first-year head coach Kelsey O’Gorman believes that her seniors served as good role models.

“Olivia was really a great asset for feeding on our attack; Maddie and Ciara were the glue of our defense,” said O’Gorman.

“They really were puzzle pieces that we will miss next year. They were a great presence on the field for us and we will miss them.”

In assessing the loss to Mendham, O’Gorman acknowledged that her team didn’t show its customary presence of mind.

“I felt like we were giving away the ball and making silly errors,” said O’Gorman, whose team found itself trailing 7-1 with 4:30 left in the first half. “I think we just didn’t handle the pressure as well as we expected.”

PHS produced a 4-1 run coming into halftime to put some pressure on the Minutemen but couldn’t build on that as the game unfolded.

“I think we ran out of steam; we did get tired,” said O’Gorman, who got three goals apiece in the loss from junior star Lopez-Ona and sophomore standout Gabby Gibbons with Jacobs and Kelly chipping in one each.

“They are just a great program; their kids are really smart. Not to take anything away from our girls but we were just making some errors that we haven’t done in the past and that is why you can’t come up with a ‘W’ against a team like that.”

In O’Gorman’s view, the Little Tigers will come away with some important lessons from the defeat.

“Playing at this level is a learning experience for everyone,” said O’Gorman. “Everyone needs to be ready for the ball and the pressure they are going to face in a final game like this. Since we haven’t reached this point, it is just another building block, another step we can take to advance.”

PHS certainly took some major steps in the right direction this spring. “I am so proud of the girls; I really think they did believe in each other,” said O’Gorman.

“They did have faith in one another and that is what got them this far. Just because we didn’t come out with a win today, it doesn’t take away from the competition we have put forth this far. We really gave teams battles, even Mendham.”

Going forward, the Little Tigers appear to have the foundation in place to keep winning a lot of games.

“We are in for another solid season next year,” said O’Gorman, who returns a trio of junior stars in Lopez-Ona, Jacobs, and Dana Smith in addition to sophomore standouts Gibbons and Mira Shane.

“They have learned a lot from this season. We are becoming more composed, we are becoming more mature and that’s just going to help us advance even more next year.”

Celestin, for her part, believes PHS is maturing into something special.

“We were 18-4, you can’t get much better than,” said Celestin, who is headed to Northeastern University.

“Hopefully they will go out and be even better next year. I am so proud of them. I can’t wait to come back and watch.”

HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT: Stuart Country Day lacrosse player Isabel Soto, right, battles an opponent for the ball in action this spring. Senior defender Soto provided leadership for a young Stuart squad which showed growth as it posted a record of 4-10.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT: Stuart Country Day lacrosse player Isabel Soto, right, battles an opponent for the ball in action this spring. Senior defender Soto provided leadership for a young Stuart squad which showed growth as it posted a record of 4-10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Showing its potential, the Stuart Country Day lacrosse team blanked the Solebury School (Pa.) 11-0 in the last week of the season.

“We came together defensively, the goalie [Harlyn Bell] had a shutout,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant, reflecting on the May 14 triumph.

“Offensively we spread it all around. Sam Servis had two goals, Tori Hannah had two, Julia Maser had three, and Amy Hallowell had two. Seven of the goals were from freshmen.”

While the Tartans fell 15-8 at Blair Academy in their finale to end the spring with a 4-10 record, Grant had no qualms with her team’s effort.

“The last game was tough, it is really far and the girls were worn out when they got there,” said Grant.

“One of the seniors, Isabel [Soto], called the girls together and said she was proud of the effort and proud to be on a team like that.”

Grant is proud of what her seniors contributed this spring. “Isabel and Alaina [Ungarini] have been with the team all four years and Nikki [Starke] was new to the sport,” said Grant.

“Isabel stepped up as a leader, she brought the girls’ spirits up when they needed it. She made sure that they kept intense in practice. Alaina is a great asset for a team; she is always smiling and positive.”

In Grant’s view, the Tartans had a positive spring notwithstanding the record. “We grew a lot since the beginning of the season,” said Grant.

“We moved some of the girls from low attack to low defense and that helped. We had three seniors, three juniors, and the rest were freshmen and sophomores. It is a young team. We have some girls from the 8th grade coming up and I am excited to see how they play with the girls that we already have.”

Stuart featured an exciting group of freshmen this spring, highlighted by Maser (a team-high 45 points on 36 goals and 9 assists), Hannah (20 goals, 14 assists, and Servis (24 goals, 7 assists) together with Harley Guzman and Rose Tetnowski.

“I was really happy with the freshmen, they have talent and they were not afraid to step up,” asserted Grant.

“They were confident which isn’t easy when you are a freshman. They were able to step up as leaders. Maser, Servis, and Hannah were the top scorers. Harley Guzman really came on, she was totally new to the game and she came out and played hard. Rose on defense was a leader in interceptions and ground balls.”

Junior star Hallowell emerged as a key leader for the Tartans. “I think she played great,” said Grant of Hallowell, who tallied 24 goals and 7 assists.

“Last year she relied on her sister [Ani]. She will play whatever position we need her to. We could put her at center or wing. She always gave 100 percent; she would sacrifice her body. She always plays hard, no matter what. I wish I had 15 players like her. She never questions and she never complains. She is a true leader.”

Grant likes the prospects for the program going forward. “The girls passed the ball around more this year, everyone got a chance,” said Grant.

“I love the girls. They are positive; everyone looks out for each other. They are only going to get better. I am really excited about the future.”