July 17, 2019

GROSS PROFIT: Ben Gross fires a pitch in action this spring in a post-graduate season for the Duke University baseball team. Gross, a former Princeton High and Princeton University standout, went 8-4 with a 4.40 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings for the Blue Devils, helping the team advance to the NCAA Super Regional. Gross was chosen by the Minnesota Twins in the 10th round of the MLB draft and is currently pitching for Elizabethton (Tenn.), the organization’s rookie-level farm team in the Appalachian League. (Photo provided courtesy of Duke Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Ben Gross bet on himself and it paid off big time.

After producing a second-team All-Ivy League campaign in 2018 in his senior season for the Princeton University baseball team, star pitcher Gross was picked by the Houston Astros in the 34th round of the Major League Draft.

With a season of college eligibility remaining due to being sidelined by a shoulder injury, Gross declined to sign with the Astros and instead decided to play for Duke University where he had been accepted in a graduate business program. more

X-MAN: Luke Franzoni takes a swing in a game this spring during his freshman season for the Xavier University baseball team. Former Princeton Day School standout Franzoni enjoyed a superb debut season for the Musketeers, batting .254 with a team-high 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 43 games. (Photo by Jason Whitman, provided courtesy of Xavier University)

By Bill Alden

Luke Franzoni produced a power surge in his senior season for Princeton Day School in 2018, batting .538 with 10 homers, and 25 RBIs in 18 games.

As Franzoni moved up the college level, joining the Xavier University baseball team this spring, he struggled in the early going with only one hit in his first 13 at-bats for the Musketeers.

But in Xavier’s home opener against Evansville on March 22, Franzoni regained his power stroke, going 2-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs. more

SAVING THE SEASON: Gib Versfeld makes a save in action this spring for the Amherst College men’s lacrosse team. Sophomore Versfeld, a former Hun School standout, helped Amherst reach the NCAA Division III title game, taking over in the cage midway through the season after the team’s starting goalie Chad Simons was sidelined by injury. Versfeld ended up with a 10.79 goals against average and a 52.7 save percentage this spring, making 15 appearances with eight starts. (Photo provided courtesy of Amherst College)

By Bill Alden

For Gib Versfeld, attending the NCAA men’s lacrosse championship weekend was a family tradition over the last decade.

This spring, however, Versfeld found himself on the field at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the climax of the lacrosse season, starting at goalie for the Amherst College men’s squad as it played Cabrini in the NCAA Division III championship game.

“It is something I have always dreamt of, it is literally 30 minutes from my house,” said Versfeld, a former Hun School standout who hails from Langhorne, Pa. more

REACHING AN APEX: Chris Bellofatto of Apex Sport, left, guards a foe in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Bellofatto scored 19 points to help Apex defeat Olives 76-28 and post its fifth straight victory. On Monday, Apex fell 63-52 to defending champion Loyaltees to see its winning streak snapped as it moved to 5-2. In other action on Monday, NJ Spiritwear defeated Hometown Moving and Storage 69-46 while Sakana edged RRBB 66-64. The league wraps up regular season play on July 17 with the playoffs starting on July 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Chris Bellofatto wasn’t fazed even though his Apex Sport team fell to NJ Spiritwear on opening night this season in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Knowing that Apex has plenty of talent, Bellofatto sensed that it wouldn’t take long for the squad to get in synch in the wake of the 58-45 loss to Spiritwear.

“We all don’t play together any time but the summer,” said Bellofatto, a 5’10 guard who starred at North Hunterdon High and went on to play at Stevens Institute of Technology. “A lot of us play off of Matt [Mancuso] and we are all starting to get used to him too.” more

July 10, 2019

RYAN’S HOPE: Ryan Smith delivers a pitch this spring in his senior season with the Princeton University baseball team. The recently graduated Smith was selected last month by the Los Angeles Angels in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. He is currently pitching for the Angels short season Class A team, the Orem Owlz in Utah. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Whether it’s throwing a 95 mile-per-hour fastball or being fluent in Spanish to bond with his teammates, Ryan Smith has found a fit in professional baseball.

One day after Smith graduated from Princeton University on June 4, he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft.

“It’s been a dream to be drafted and play professional baseball so obviously it’s pretty exciting,” said Smith, who grew up in Garden City, N.Y.

“I kind of had the idea in my head that I would be selected this year, so it was more of where, not if I would. Obviously I was hoping to get drafted as high as possible. The 18th round is a good round to get taken in, but obviously I would have loved to go higher. I can have a chip on my shoulder now.” more

STRONG COFFEE: Recently graduated Princeton High standout Connor Coffee, center, makes a block playing for the West squad in the 2019 Sunshine Football Classic at Notre Dame High last Wednesday evening.Coffee was joined on the West team by PHS teammates Jaylen Johnson, Evan Angelucci, and Steve Hennessy. The quartet battled hard as the West fell 14-7 to the East in game halted in the third quarter due to lightning strikes in the area. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Seven of the offensive linemen on the West squad in the 2019 Sunshine Football Classic had an average weight of 266 pounds.

The eighth lineman, recently graduated Princeton High star Connor Coffee, was listed at 6’1, 180 pounds.

Playing in the all-star game last Wednesday night at Notre Dame High, the wiry Coffee battled hard at left tackle, more than holding his own against the heavyweights he encountered in the trenches. more

HISTORIC FINISH: Mira Shane guards the net for the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse this spring in her senior campaign. Former Princeton High star Shane helped Michigan enjoy the best season in program history as it rose to No. 8 in the national rankings and made the NCAA tournament for the first time. The Wolverines advanced to the second round of the national tourney and ended with a 16-4 record. Shane, for her part, set Michigan program career records in wins (24), career saves (360) and career save percentage (.451). This spring, Shane made 19 starts with a goals against average of 9.99 and 139 saves. She was named as an Inside Lacrosse honorable mention All-American and a Tewaaraton Award Nominee. (Photo provided courtesy of Michigan Photography)

By Bill Alden

Even though the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse team posted a pedestrian 7-10 record in 2018, Mira Shane sensed the Wolverines were primed to step up this spring.

“We had an awesome fall ball season,” said former Princeton High star goalie Shane. “I think from there, we were ‘let’s go, this can really be our year.’”

After spending her first three years as a part-time starter, Shane was ready to produce an awesome final campaign. more

IN SYNC: Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball player Jaedyn Paria-Veron takes a swing in recent action. Last Sunday, former Princeton High standout Paria-Veron starred as Post 218 split a doubleheader at Ewing Post 314. Princeton won the opener 14-12 before dropping the nightcap 8-6. Paria-Veron had five RBIS in game one and was on base four times in the second game. Post 218, which moved to 3-13, plays at Trenton Post 93/182 on July 10, at South Brunswick Post 401 on July 11, hosts North Hamilton on the morning of July 14 and Hightstown Post 148 later that day in a rescheduled game, and then plays at Hopewell Post 339 on July 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaedyn Paria-Veron has become a catalyst this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.

Batting in the leadoff spot for Post 218 as it played a doubleheader at Ewing Post 314 last Sunday, former Princeton High standout Paria-Veron was in center of the action all day long as the teams played for nearly five hours.

In the opener, center fielder Paria-Veron had two hits and five RBIs as Post 218 built an 11-2 lead and hung on for a 14-12 win. As afternoon turned into evening for the nightcap at Moody Park, Paria-Veron reached base four times on an error, two walks, and a single to help Princeton rally from an early 7-2 deficit to narrow the gap to one run before falling 8-6 as it dropped to 3-13. more

LEADING THE FIELD: Vince Anfield of Loyaltees goes up for a shot against NJ Spiritwear in last year’s championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Anfield helped Loyaltees take the title. Last Monday, Anfield came up big as Loyaltees defeated previously undefeated NJ Spiritwear 70-52 in a regular season title rematch. Star guard Anfield tallied 16 points to help Loyaltees pull away to the victory and improve to 5-1. In other action on Monday night, Hometown Moving and Storage defeated Team NRGY 65-47 and Apex Sport topped Majeski Foundation 56-42. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

There was excitement in the air at the Community Park courts last Monday evening as Loyaltees faced NJ Spiritwear in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

The clash was a rematch of last year’s best-of-three title series won by Loyaltees in a decisive game three and the renewal of the rivalry drew a throng of fans to the park.

Loyaltees star guard Vince Anfield and his teammates, for their part, were determined to come out strong in the showdown against an undefeated Spiritwear squad bent on revenge. more

July 3, 2019

ON TO CLEVELAND: Stephen Carlson, right, fights past a Penn defender in action last fall during his senior season for the Princeton University football team. Star receiver Carlson made 51 receptions for 683 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 to help Princeton go 10-0, the program’s first perfect season since 1964. In late April, Carlson signed free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and is looking forward to starting training camp later this month. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Stephen Carlson seemingly came out of nowhere to emerge as a star receiver for the Princeton University football team in 2017.

After having played JV as a freshman in 2015 and making 11 catches on varsity the next fall, Carlson grabbed six receptions for 94 yards and three touchdowns in Princeton’s 27-17 win over San Diego in the 2017 season opener. more

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN: Jake Alu takes a swing in action this spring during his senior season for the Boston College baseball team. Former Princeton Day School standout Alu enjoyed a big final campaign for the Eagles, hitting a team-high .343 to get named as an All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer. He was selected in the 24th round of the MLB draft last month by the Washington Nationals and is currently playing for the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays, a Class A Short Season team that competes in the New York-Penn League. (Photo provided courtesy of BC Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Jake Alu brought a special sense of urgency into his final campaign for the Boston College baseball team.

After a breakthrough sophomore season in 2017 which saw former Princeton Day School star Alu hit .331 and earn All-New England honors, he slumped as junior with his batting average plummeting to .216.

“I had like a little fire under my feet, I wanted to prove that my sophomore year was not a fluke,” said Alu, a 5’10, 175-pound infielder. “I wanted to have a strong senior season and potentially get a chance to play pro baseball.” more

WILD FINISH: Princeton High boys’ track senior star Nils Wildberg displays the medal he earned for winning the inaugural NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions Long Jump Showcase in February. The Dartmouth College-bound Wildberg enjoyed a big  spring season for the Tigers. He culminated his PHS career by making history at the New Balance National Championships in Greensboro, N.C., leaping to personal best of 24’ 3.5, good for a school and Mercer County all-time record as he earned All-America status.

By Bill Alden

Nils Wildberg ended the winter track season by making history.

Despite being hampered by a nagging knee injury, the Princeton High senior placed first in the inaugural NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions Long Jump Showcase in late February, becoming the first PHS individual state champion in 36 years, joining Peter Sharpless (two titles – outdoor high jump 1980 and 1981) and Stephen Fletcher (four titles – 55 hurdles indoors and 110 hurdles outdoors in both 1982 and 1983) as the only three boys athletes to ever achieve a state crown.

“You have to be in that right mindset for success,” said Wildberg, reflecting on his title.  more

DOUBLE TAKE: Noah Lilienthal shows his form this spring during his freshman season for the Wesleyan University men’s tennis team. Former Princeton High standout Lilienthal helped Wesleyan go 16-5 as it advanced to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. Lilienthal went on to compete in the NCAA D-III Doubles Championship where he and teammate Adrian Roji placed second, becoming the first Wesleyan duo to achieve that feat. Lilienthal was named both the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) and ITA Division III Rookie of the Year and earned All-American honors in doubles along with Roji. (Photo provided courtesy of Wesleyan University Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Noah Lilienthal didn’t get off to a great start when he hit the court last fall for the Wesleyan University men’s tennis team in his freshman season.

“One of the biggest challenges is that you want to impress your teammates and show them you have a really high level but at the same time also be there for them,” said Lilienthal, a former Princeton High star who won a first singles title at the Mercer County Tournament for the Tigers.

“It was in the back of my head, I need to get good results so that everyone on my team respects me and all of that stuff. I lost a couple of matches I felt I could have won. I think it was because I was putting way too much pressure on myself.” more

By Bill Alden

N.J. Spiritwear emerged as a force last year in making its debut in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

The squad advanced to the best-of-three championship series against Loyaltees and forced a decisive third game before falling 76-60.

Back for a second year in the league, Troy Jones and his teammates have benefited from having that season under their belts.

“We know everybody and we know how most people play, so it is not like we are coming in here blind,” said star guard Jones.

“We know who the shooters are and who can dribble and finish. We just know what they could do last year and use it to take away their strengths and work on their weaknesses.” more

June 26, 2019

IN GOOD HANDS: Carla Berube makes a point during her introductory press conference last Wednesday after taking the the helm of the Princeton University women’s basketball program. Berube is coming to Princeton after superb 17-year tenure as the head coach of the Tufts University women’s basketball team which saw her lead the Jumbos to a 384-96 recored in 17 seasons while reaching the NCAA Division III final twice, the Final Four four times, and the Sweet 16 nine times. She is succeeding Courtney Banghart, who left Princeton in late April to take over the University of North Carolina program. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team reached the waning moments of the 1995 NCAA championship game seeking its first national title, coach Geno Auriemma turned to a young sophomore guard Carla Berube.

Knowing that Berube had ice water in her veins, he called a play designed to get her to the free throw line, confident that she would come through. Berube drained those free throws as UConn went on to a 70-64 win over Tennessee and the crown.

Last Wednesday, Berube displayed that same coolness, holding her introductory press conference after recently being named as the head coach of the Princeton University women’s basketball program.  more

By Bill Alden

Although the Princeton High football team took its lumps in 2017 as it went 0-10, Connor Coffee saw a special camaraderie that boded well for the future.

“We had a bunch of injuries to start the year; we lost our quarterback [Vince Doran] on the first snap,” said PHS lineman Coffee.

“We were dealing with a lot of adversity through the year. We stuck through it, we were just giving it our all. We were a tight group, we all got along.”

Serving as a co-captain last fall in his senior season, Coffee sought to utilize that togetherness as the Tigers aimed to get back into the win column. more

COMING THROUGH: Princeton High football player Jaylen Johnson fights for extra yardage in a game last fall. The recently graduated Johnson will be playing for the West squad in the 22nd Sunshine Football Classic on July 2 at Notre Dame High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaylen Johnson emerged as a force on both sides of the line for the Princeton High football team during his sophomore season in 2016.

“A lot of the kids were older and tougher than me so I just had to work harder than them,” said Johnson. “As the year went on, I improved a lot on blocking and snapping the ball.”

Although PHS went 0-10 the next season, Johnson developed a deeper bond with his teammates.

“We tried our best and we never quit,” said Johnson. “When I was on the line junior year I felt like I had a brotherhood with me. I had Connor Coffee, Marqui McBride, and Finn Kaiser, they were like brothers to me.” more

GETTING A LEG UP: Evan Angelucci eludes a tackler during his career for the Princeton High football team. Recovering from a broken leg in the spring of his sophomore year that could have kept him from ever playing sports again, Angelucci emerged as a star running back/linebacker for the Tigers. He has been selected to play for the West squad in the 22nd Sunshine Football Classic, which is taking place on July 2 at Notre Dame High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It looked like Evan Angelucci’s athletic career may have ended in March of 2017 when he suffered a gruesome leg injury playing for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.

“I broke my leg as a sophomore in lacrosse season and was told I was never going to play sports again,” recalled Angelucci.

“I displaced my whole right leg; it was just hanging there. I broke my tibia and fibula.” more

CATCHING ON: Princeton High football player Steve Hennessy heads up the field after making a catch in a game last fall. Recently graduated star running back/receiver/defensive back Hennessy will be competing for the West squad in the Sunshine Football Classic on July 2 at Notre Dame High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Steve Hennessy got the chance to play split end for the Princeton High football team as junior in 2017 and made the most of it, grabbing several touchdown receptions.

“It was great to break out and finally play offense because receiver was always the position looking to play the most,” said Hennessy, who had been a back-up defensive back for most of his sophomore season.

“It was good to have that year and finally have stuff come together and score those touchdowns. I know we didn’t have the greatest year as a team, but it prepared me more for senior year, getting in all of those reps.” more

TOUGH AS NIALL: Niall Carpenter dribbles upcourt during his career with the Hun School boys’ basketball team. Last Wednesday, Carpenter, now a rising senior star guard at The College of New Jersey, helped Majeski Foundation defeat RRBB 45-37 in the opening game for both teams in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Carpenter scored 11 points in the victory for Majeski, the TCNJ men’s hoops entry in the league. In summer hoops action last Monday, NJ Spiritwear defeated Team NRGY49-42, Apex Sports topped RRBB 53-46, and Loyaltees cruised to a 64-32 win over Olives. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Former Hun School boys’ basketball star Niall Carpenter enjoyed a productive homecoming as he returned to town last Wednesday evening to play in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Competing for Majeski Foundation, a team comprised of players from The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team, rising TCNJ senior guard Carpenter tallied 11 points as the squad pulled away to a 45-37 win over RRBB in the season opener for both teams.

Carpenter enjoyed the scene at the John Witherspoon Middle School gym as he had a Princeton homecoming.

 more

June 19, 2019

BEARING DOWN: Jesper Horsted races up the field last fall in his senior season for the Princeton University football team. After a stellar career for Princeton which saw Horsted set the program record in receptions (196) and touchdown catches (28), he recently signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears of the NFL. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Jesper Horsted was mobbed by teammates after snatching a one-handed pass at a recent Chicago Bears practice during organized team activities (OTAs).

It’s the sort of play Horsted’s Princeton University teammates have seen many times before from the former Minnesota Athlete of the Year who often flashed that kind of ability as a record-setting wide receiver for the Tigers. Yet it wasn’t as easy for the dynamic Horsted to get a chance in the pros as some would have expected after an Ivy League championship season in his senior year.

“There were definitely a lot of ups and downs,” said Horsted, a native of Shoreview, Minn., who set Princeton records in receptions (196) and touchdown catches (28). more

WINNING APPROACH: Carla Berube makes a point to her players during her tenure as the head coach of the Tufts University women’s basketball team. Berube was recently named to guide the Princeton University women’s program, succeeding Courtney Banghart, who left Princeton in late April to take over the University of North Carolina squad. At Tufts, Berube guided the Jumbos to a 384-96 record in 17 seasons. She enjoyed a stellar playing career for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team which saw her score 1,381 points and help the Huskies go 132-8 and win the 1995 NCAA title. (Photo by SportsPix, provided courtesy of Tufts Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

After a stellar career at the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team which saw her score 1,381 points and help the Huskies go 132-8 and win the 1995 NCAA title followed by a season of pro ball, Carla Berube decided to take a break from the game.

“I was living in California after the ABL (American Basketball League) went under and I was out there for two years,” said Berube.

“I wanted to get away from basketball a little bit because it had been my life for however many years.” more

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Princeton High boys’ track star Nils Wildberg shows off the medal he earned for taking fifth place in the Championship Long Jump at the New Balance National Championships in Greensboro, N.C., last weekend. The Dartmouth-bound Wildberg jumped a huge personal best of 24’3.5, good for a school and Mercer County all-time record as he earned All-America status.

Heading south to compete in the New Balance National Championships in Greensboro, N.C., to wrap up its season, the Princeton High track team made some history.

PHS senior star sprinter and jumper Nils Wildberg leapt into the record book, flying to fifth place finish in the Championship Long Jump, earning All-America status. The Dartmouth-bound Wildberg jumped a huge personal best of 24’3.5, good for a school and Mercer County all-time record. Earlier in June, Wildberg had placed second in the long jump at the New Jersey Meet of Champions with a leap of 22’6. more

TOM TERRIFIC: Princeton High baseball player Tommy Reid takes a big cut in a game this spring. Senior outfielder and co-captain Reid helped spark PHS at the top of the lineup. The Tigers went 9-13 this spring, winning six of their last eight games and advancing to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton High baseball team stunned many when it edged second-seeded Hamilton 1-0 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament this spring, Dom Capuano wasn’t surprised.

“That game was awesome; for whatever reason, I had confidence going into that game. I said to them before the game, ‘I have never believed in you more at this point,’” said first-year head coach Capuano, whose team was seeded 15th in the MCT and went on to fall to 10th-seeded Lawrence High in the quarterfinals. more

SWINGING AWAY: Princeton Day School softball player Julie Patterson takes a swing in a game this season. Senior catcher and co-captain Patterson was a stalwart for the program over the last four seasons, providing leadership and production from day one as a freshman. PDS posted a 2-8 record this spring. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Paul Lano made a promise when he took the helm of the Princeton Day School softball team in 2012.

“When I came into the program they only had eight players the year before, they had to borrow a player from Stuart Country Day to play games so they were really struggling,” said PDS head coach Lano.

“I came to the athletic department and said give me a year or so and I will build it back up. I will get players to come out and play. I had 15, 17 players at times. I was able to build the program back up to where it needs to be in order to become relevant.” more