July 17, 2013
MAKING HAY: Jon Hayden of the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team rounds second base in recent action. Centerfielder Hayden has been a catalyst as Post 218 is in the chase for a spot in the District playoffs. Through July 15, Princeton stood at 11-10 and tied with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final postseason berth.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING HAY: Jon Hayden of the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team rounds second base in recent action. Centerfielder Hayden has been a catalyst as Post 218 is in the chase for a spot in the District playoffs. Through July 15, Princeton stood at 11-10 and tied with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final postseason berth. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jon Hayden sees himself as a catalyst for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.

“I like to try to get people pumped up in the game,” said centerfielder Hayden, who recently graduated from the Lawrenceville School. “I talk a lot and I try to make sure that people are ready to go. I try to ignite the flame a little.”

Last week, with Post 218 trailing Robbinsville Post 530 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Hayden sparked Princeton as he cracked a towering double to the left field fence at Smoyer Park. Hayden scored and Post 218 had knotted the game at 2-2 by the end of the frame.

“He threw me a lot of curve balls in my first at bat,” said Hayden, reflecting on his double.

“I was just trying to sit back on whatever the off-speed pitch which was a curve ball and try to take it the other way instead of pulling my head out and trying to yank one down the first base line.”

Princeton fell behind 3-2 and then the game was suspended due to a
cloudburst. The teams met again last Monday to finish last week’s game and to play a regularly scheduled contest. Post 218 rallied for two late runs to win the resumed game 4-3 and then proceeded to top Robbinsville 10-3 to improve to 11-10 on the summer.

The two-win evening put Princeton in a tie with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final spot in the upcoming District tournament.

With Post 218 having never qualified for postseason play in its history, Hayden and his teammates are excited to be in the playoff chase.

“Last year, we were out of it pretty early but we still played hard,” said Hayden.

“This year we have even more of an incentive to play hard baseball. And we have hung with all of the best teams in the league so we know if we play hard and hit the ball hard, we have a chance against anybody in this league.”

The Post 218 mound staff of Rohit Chawla, Jacob Eisenberg, Mike Dunlap, and Andrew Frain has given the team a chance every time it takes the field.

“I can’t stress enough how good our pitching has been this year, they keep us in every single game,” said Hayden.

“Then it is up to us hitters to just do a little bit and put a couple of runs on the board because we know that our pitching is going to hold them down every single game.”

Hayden fine-tuned his hitting over the last year, enjoying a big spring in his final season for Lawrenceville and carrying over that production for Post 218.

“I changed a lot of stuff late last summer and then I tried to pick up from there during the Lawrenceville season and it turned out pretty well,” said Hayden, who is heading to Johns Hopkins this fall where he will be playing for the school’s baseball team.

“I changed my batting stance a little; I widened my stance and made sure I was more balanced because I was out in front a lot in junior season. I sit back and try to take more balls to left center than right center.”

Post 218 manager Tommy Parker likes his squad’s balance and upbeat mentality.

“I would say these guys have been pretty resilient throughout the season and they came back today,” said Parker.

“I can’t talk enough about this combination of kids. We have a youth movement, we have senior leadership, and we have some of the best pitching in the league. Everyone has been excited this season about playing. Everybody has contributed, no deer in the headlights moments. The young guys step up like they have been playing for a few seasons up here. They are not intimidated; they have good on-field presence.”

Hayden’s presence has been a real plus for Princeton. “Jon is a quiet leader,” said Parker.

“He goes out there, he is real enthusiastic. He gets the guys up. I like what he has done and what Jess [Russo] and Ian [Naccarella] has done. They mentor to the younger guys.”

Parker shares his players’ enthusiasm over their bid for a playoff berth. “It is a good feeling; it has been a lot of years since we have had a team that has been close enough to the playoffs that you can touch it,” said Parker.

“You remember our 15-12 season, we missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. I want to push these guys to make the playoffs. It has been a total team effort.”

Hayden, for his part, believes the team will push to the end. “We have a lot of heart on our team; everyone really loves the sport of baseball,” said Hayden. “We all go out there everyday trying to do what we can to get a win.”

RAISING KANE: Kevin Kane of Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) dribbles upcourt last month in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Kane scored 12 points as PYS, the Princeton High boys’ hoops team entry in the league, topped WTG 49-33 for its first win of the summer. On Monday, rising junior Kane scored 17 in a losing cause as PYS fell 44-42 to Clear View Window Cleaning and dropped to 1-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RAISING KANE: Kevin Kane of Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) dribbles upcourt last month in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Kane scored 12 points as PYS, the Princeton High boys’ hoops team entry in the league, topped WTG 49-33 for its first win of the summer. On Monday, rising junior Kane scored 17 in a losing cause as PYS fell 44-42 to Clear View Window Cleaning and dropped to 1-7.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Clutching a clipboard, Mark Shelley put in a workout on the sidelines at the Community Park courts last Wednesday evening, never sitting as he urged on his players verbally and with hand gestures to the final whistle.

It may have been July but Princeton High boys’ basketball head coach Shelley was in mid-winter form in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Shelley’s instructions were heeded as the PHS entry in the league, Princeton Youth Sports (PYS), pulled away to a 49-33 win over WTG.

“I really try to coach them up,” said Shelley, who guided PHS to a 12-11 record and the second round of the state tournament last winter in his debut season at the helm of the program. “I want to stay positive but I want it to be a learning experience.”

Shelley saw plenty of positives on the offensive end as PYS jumped out to a 30-11 halftime lead in the victory over WTG.

“What I like is that I thought we took smart shots,” said Shelley, who got 14 points from Paul Murray on the evening with Kevin Kane scoring 12 and Matt Vasseur chipping in 10.

“It helps when you shoot well. For the most part, one of our issues with a lot of new people is some of them can be good shooters in practice but they force shots in the game. We talked about a lot about going inside out, whether it is with the post or with dribble penetration and kicks and almost all of our threes tonight were on that.”

PYS also played some good defense, giving up only two points in the first 10 minutes of the contest.

“We have worked a lot on communicating within the zone and I think you heard them talking a lot on defense tonight,” said Shelley.

“The defense was really solid and the other team said a couple of things to me about that.”

Despite having produced some solid performances this summer, the win over WTG marked a breakthrough for PYS as the team improved to 1-5.

“We come in with the attitude that we just want to play well and if we get beat by 15, that is fine,” said Shelley.

“It is nice to win. We were missing a lot of key players [Peter Mahotiere, Cal O’Meara, Matt Hart, and Andrew Braverman] and we talked before the game about the secondary break and certain things and we did those things.”

Over the course of the summer, the PHS players have been doing a lot of things to get better.

“We have had a lot of open gyms where they do an hour of drills and then they scrimmage,” said Shelley.

“I don’t coach during the scrimmages, I just let them play 5-on-5. We went to the University’s team camp and we played six or seven games there in a weekend. Our JVs are playing in a league in Hillsborough with a lot of Group IV teams like Piscataway, and other big-time competition. The JVs were at the University camp too.”

In Shelley’s view, there is a dual focus to the competition this summer. “One is individual; we want them to work on what they are not good at,” explained Shelley.

“We give them things at the end of the season and over the summer and a lot of them come and ask us what can I work on. The other thing is the team-building thing. It is bonding and learning each other’s tendencies. For Peter and Cal, it is knowing that without Lior [Levy] and Scotty [Bechler], they have to score more, not 20 a game but they have to be around 10 or 12 a game. It is getting confidence in these younger guards.”

Shelley is confident that the work everyone around the program is putting in this summer will pay dividends over the winter.

“They know what we are looking for; it is so much easier for me now,” said Shelley.

“I took over last year in the fall and that was hard, it was late. This is a lot better. We are able to put our summer program together and the other coaches are on the same page as I am in terms of what we are looking for from the kids. It has been a real good summer so far and the guys have enjoyed it. We have realistic expectations; we are losing some really good players but we feel good about the balance we have, that is the big thing.”

MILE HIGH: Jeremy Sallade, 8, of Princeton flies to the finish line in winning a heat at the recently-held Princeton Community Mile. The third annual mile event, hosted by the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC), took place at the Hun School track. Princeton resident Michael Fonder provided a highlight of the evening as he set a new event record with a time of 4:27.0. (Photo by Bonnie Davis, Courtesy of the Princeton Athletic Club)

MILE HIGH: Jeremy Sallade, 8, of Princeton flies to the finish line in winning a heat at the recently-held Princeton Community Mile. The third annual mile event, hosted by the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC), took place at the Hun School track. Princeton resident Michael Fonder provided a highlight of the evening as he set a new event record with a time of 4:27.0.
(Photo by Bonnie Davis, Courtesy of the Princeton Athletic Club)

Billing itself as a community of runners within the Princeton community, the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC) recently held two events which are becoming annual fixtures on the local running scene.

In mid-June, the PAC held its third annual mile running event, the Princeton Community Mile, at The Hun School track.

The competition featured four heats so that participants had the opportunity to run with others of similar paces.

“The weather was great, high 70s and sunny,” said event director David
Kimmel of the PAC.

“We also had a number of people come back from past years, and it was good to see several families sign up and run. Sometimes a parent was running in one heat and their kids in another, and they took turns cheering each other on.”

In the final heat of the evening, Princeton resident Michael Fonder set a new Princeton Community Mile record with a time of 4:27.0. Chris Sallade finished second in 4:44.1 with Noah Chen taking third in 5:05.3.

The top finisher in the first heat was 8-year old Princeton
resident Jeremy Sallade with a time of 7:05.2, followed by Steve Dans in 7:13.7 and Stephanie Weber in 7:21.7. In the second heat, Princeton resident Jamie Reuland finished first with a time of 6:46.8, followed by Gourin Bhagavathi in 6:55.4 and Euen Ekman-Gunn in 7:05.6. In the third heat, Princeton resident Clara Blättler finished first and recorded the fastest female time of the evening as she ran 5:52.9, followed by Rob Borham in 5:57.4 and Rich O’Brien in 6:02.9.

A week later, PAC returned to Hun for its All-Comers Track Event, which included a 3,000-meter run, an 800-meter run, a 100-meter dash, and a 4×400 relay.

Benefitting from another good weather night with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70’s, the meet attracted a good turnout. In the 3,000 meter run, Princeton High track star Jacob Rist took first in a time of 9:34.4. The top women’s finisher in the 3,000 was Erin Grosskurth of Dix Hills, N.Y., as she finished in 12:35.2.

In the 100 dash, the men’s winner was Romano Foti of Princeton with a time of 12.2 while Blättler was the fastest woman as she clocked a time of 13.5.

In the 800-meter run, Rist posted his second win of the evening with a time of 2:05.4. Jadee Gordon of Trenton was the first woman, clocking a 2:42.1. In the 4×400 meter relay, the quartet of of Noam Chen, Alex Harvey, Antonio Pinheiro, and Rist, all of Princeton, placed first in 4:01.3.

July 10, 2013
TITLE DEFENSE: Holly McGarvie Reilly, middle, marks an Australian player in action last fall for the U.S. women’s lacrosse national team. Reilly, a former Princeton University lacrosse and field hockey star, is currently in Canada competing for the U.S. in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario. Reilly starred in the 2009 World Cup as the U.S. edged Australia 8-7 in the championship game in Prague, Czech Republic.(Photo by Gani Pinero, Courtesy of US Lacrosse)

TITLE DEFENSE: Holly McGarvie Reilly, middle, marks an Australian player in action last fall for the U.S. women’s lacrosse national team. Reilly, a former Princeton University lacrosse and field hockey star, is currently in Canada competing for the U.S. in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario. Reilly starred in the 2009 World Cup as the U.S. edged Australia 8-7 in the championship game in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Gani Pinero, Courtesy of US Lacrosse)

Holly McGarvie Reilly has been busy on many fronts since helping the U.S. squad win the gold medal at the 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup.

After the tournament, former Princeton University standout Reilly ’09 headed to England where she taught and coached at a small private school, Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire. She returned to the U.S., teaching and starting the girls’ lacrosse program at Ballou High in the inner city of Washington, D.C.

Off the field, she married Princeton classmate Brendan Reilly, a Tiger men’s lax tri-captain, in 2012. Her husband, a Marine, is stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County and the couple now lives in southern California where Reilly works from home on the sales team of TroopSwap, an online military marketplace.

But as the 2013 World Cup approached, Reilly cleared her calendar to go on another run for the U.S. Despite having trained sporadically over the last four years, Reilly made the squad as a defender and will be in action at the tournament which runs from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario.

“For me, this is my team now,” said Reilly, who was a two-time lax All-American during her Princeton career and also made All-Ivy in field hockey for the Tigers.

“I never felt like that when I was at Princeton. I was focused on field hockey and lacrosse because that only lasts four years. It doesn’t replace the other teams but it is the team I focus on now.”

Since moving to California, Reilly has been able to focus more on lacrosse. “This past year, I have been able to play more,” said Reilly.

“There is beautiful weather out here. I work with a trainer on my speed. I am also working with Glen Miles who used to play on the U.S. men’s lacrosse team way back when. He played at Navy in the 1980s and retired as a pilot in 2006. I work with him on stick skills. I can go one-on-one against him and work on game situations.”

Reilly needed to have her skills up to snuff in order to survive the arduous tryout process which began with a training camp last August with 36 players on hand. There were games in October and more training in December. Then 24 players went to the Champions Cup in Orlando early this year from which the final squad of 18 was selected.

“I knew what was at stake,” said Reilly, reflecting on the selection procedure.

“I was  committed to training hard and making the team. I am so fortunate and humbled to make this team.”

Reilly counts herself fortunate to have had the experience of winning the gold medal in 2009 when the U.S. edged Australia 8-7 in the championship game in Prague, Czech Republic.

“It seems so far away; I feel like I was still such a baby,” said McGarvie Reilly, reflecting on the competition where she tallied five points on three goals and two assists and ranked second on the U.S. team with 17 draw controls.

“I am at a different stage of my life now. I am one of the veteran players. I have a level of experience. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in 2009; I would do anything they asked. I am still enthusiastic but I have more of a sense of what is going to happen. I know what the next 20 days entails. I continue to get better. The move to defense from midfield has been a big help. I was always more of a defensive player. My mindset is more of a defender.”

The U.S. squad will be working hard to regain that winning mindset as it girds for the tournament.

“We are in Baltimore from June 30 to July 2; we are in Buffalo from July 2-8 and then we go to Canada,” said Reilly.

“We will have 2-a-days. In Buffalo, we will start tapering off. We need to prepare for more than you have to play. We need to peak at the right time. We need to have the endurance to do game, break, and game. We know what we have to do to get ready.”

Reilly acknowledges that the U.S. has to be ready for a battle as it looks to successfully defend its title.

“I think we have a pretty big target on our backs,” said Reilly. “The teams gear up for you, they want to knock you down when you are the champions. We played Australia and England in the fall; they played us hard.”

But the U.S is less concerned about its foes than simply playing its game and staying in the moment. “We need to focus on our mission,” said Reilly.

“We need to stay passionate. The talent we have is so impressive. But collectively we are the biggest threat. We also need to enjoy it. We will play hard but we need to enjoy the great plays and the great moments. I remember laughing on the field in 2009.”

While Reilly may have learned to savor the highlights, she hasn’t lost the feistiness that has made her great since her high school days at Shawnee High in Medford, New Jersey.

“I think it is about being a public school kid,” said Reilly. “I am scrappy and tough. I have a Jersey girl attitude; I fight to the last.”

ISRAELI FORCE: Sam Ellis looks for an opening in action this past spring during her senior season with the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team. Ellis is continuing her lax career by competing for the inaugural Israeli team in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup, which is taking place from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ISRAELI FORCE: Sam Ellis looks for an opening in action this past spring during her senior season with the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team. Ellis is continuing her lax career by competing for the inaugural Israeli team in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup, which is taking place from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sam Ellis and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team were fired up to get a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament this May.

After falling to Dartmouth in the semifinals of the Ivy League tourney, the Tigers weren’t sure if they were going to be invited to take part in the chase for the national crown.

“We were on the edge of our seats for the weekend; we were excited to get in,” said attacker Ellis. “That week of practice was the hardest I have ever seen our team work.”

Facing Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament, that work showed as Princeton pushed the Blue Devils hard before falling 10-9 in overtime. “In the game against Duke, everyone gave their all,” said Ellis.

“The coaches were not mad at us afterward because they knew everyone played so hard. It was the luck of the draw that we lost, it was close the entire game.”

While Ellis was proud of Princeton’s effort, it was a disappointing way to close out her college lacrosse career.

“It was pretty sad; it was tough to lose, we didn’t want to leave the field,” recalled Ellis.

“They had to kick us off the field, everyone was hugging. I was sad for my family, I am the youngest kid so this is it for them. It was tough to say goodbye to college lacrosse.”

Although making that farewell was tough, Ellis will be getting back on the field this week as she heads to Canada to compete for the inaugural Israeli women’s national team at the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup from July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario.

For Ellis, the process of making the Israeli squad began this past winter. “I had a high school friend who played for the men’s team so I knew Israeli lacrosse was in existence,” said Ellis.

“My mom kept checking the website and found out about the tryout. The tryout was in January at Peddie. There were 20 spots but they were only recruiting 10 from the states. There were 50 or so girls, from high school players to after college.”

Putting her best foot forward in the tryout was a little tricky as Ellis had to show off her skills but also demonstrate that she could work well with her potential teammates.

“It was just three hours; it was interesting,” said Ellis. “I had never played with someone besides the Princeton players in college. I needed to learn what they could do and how to make them look good. You want to showcase your skills but you also have to show you fit in with the team.”

Ellis was thrilled to make the squad, which includes players from such high-quality college lacrosse programs as the University of Maryland, Penn, Dartmouth, James Madison, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Yale.

“I didn’t find out about it until March,” said Ellis, noting there was a Skype interview and a phone interview with the coach after the tryout.

“I thought oh my God this is amazing. I was raised Jewish and I am proud of it. Being American, I had to apply for Israeli citizenship. It is eye-opening to become a citizen. It is exciting to have this experience; it is the inaugural women’s team. I am thankful to be involved and hoping to make a name for Israel.”

Prior to the competition, Ellis and her teammates headed to Ashkelon, Israel from July 4-8 to put in their final preparations.

“We are going to be in camp for a week with 2-a-days and that fun stuff,” said Ellis, noting that she took a short break after the NCAAs to rest her body.

“I think we can come together. We will be living together so that should help. We all know what we have to do. You always want more time. I think we have some great players.”

Ellis’ special time at Princeton will hold her in good stead as she hits the world stage.

“I have definitely learned a lot about myself; it was quite an experience,” said Ellis, who scored 20 points on 16 goals and four assists in her senior year and ended her career with 70 points on 47 goals and 23 assists.

“I didn’t have a great freshman year. I had to work hard to get on the field. I had to go through a lot of injuries. I had surgeries and epidurals, I never wanted to give up. I never felt so passionate about something. Things fell into place. All that I had to go through was worth it. I am glad I never gave up.”

With Israel competing in Pool D of the tournament along with Scotland, Germany, and Korea, Ellis is planning to show her passion. “I want to do something equivalent to my senior year; I would love to make an impact and make a name for Israel,” said Ellis. “I want to score a lot of goals.”

A key goal of the World Cup effort is to grow the game of lacrosse in Israel. “Our marketing guys have said there is no sport that Israel is known for and this could be our chance,” said Ellis.

“You want to get as far as you can; it will be incredible however far we go. I think we have a lot of talent, I am excited about our chances.”

Noting that the World Cup will likely be her final taste of competitive lacrosse, Ellis is primed for an incredible 10 days.

“This is it for me, I think,” said Ellis. “I am definitely going to savor the whole experience. It is going to be cool going to the World Cup.”

JOURNEY’S END: Six Princeton High runners are all smiles after they finished a 139.3 mile run down the New Jersey coast to raise money to rebuild sand dunes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Pictured, from left, are Evie Bentch, Paige Metzheiser, Laure Hartmanshenn, Raakel ­Vuojolainen, Julie Bond, and Lou Mialhe. The girls traveled 15 miles a day on their 9-day journey from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

JOURNEY’S END: Six Princeton High runners are all smiles after they finished a 139.3 mile run down the New Jersey coast to raise money to rebuild sand dunes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Pictured, from left, are Evie Bentch, Paige Metzheiser, Laure Hartmanshenn, Raakel ­Vuojolainen, Julie Bond, and Lou Mialhe. The girls traveled 15 miles a day on their 9-day journey from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

The idea of running around 135 miles in nine days on the Jersey shore this summer to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief seemed far-fetched to Lou Mialhe at first.

“I heard about it a couple of months ago; I didn’t think that it was that realistic,” said Princeton High runner Mialhe, noting that track teammates Julie Bond and Paige Metzheiser formulated the plan.

“I thought they were just joking around. Julie initiated everything and when she mapped out all of the routes, I realized that it was going to happen.”

Once Mialhe realized that the project, which was done in conjunction with the Alliance for a Living Ocean to raise funds to rebuild dunes damaged by the superstorm, was coming to fruition, she was all in.

“First of all I really liked the girls; we are all good friends and runners,” said Mialhe, who was joined in the effort by Evie Bentch, Laure Hartmanshenn, and Raakel Vuojolainen, in addition to Bond and Metzheiser.

“It was also a good idea to do something to help the shore. I love the beach and the dunes and I knew so much damage had resulted from Hurricane Sandy.”

The girls took off on June 24 on a route that started in Sandy Hook and ended in Cape May.

“It was really great; I really enjoyed running on the boardwalk,” said Mialhe, reflecting on the group’s first day on the road.

“We were wearing shirts that said what we were doing and people would stop and talk with us and clap for us.”

There was some trial and error involved as the girls figured out the best way to handle their daily 15-mile journey.

“At first we were doing four miles of running and one mile walking but that was way too hard,” said Mialhe, noting that the runs started early in the morning and ended by noon each day and that the group ended up covering a total of 139.3 miles.

“Then we went to eight minutes running and two minutes walking but we wanted to break longer. We finally decided on two-and-a-half miles running and a half-mile of walking. All of us ran together and each girl covered 15 miles a day.”

Things did drag at times as the girls headed inland for part of the trip.

“We ran two days on Route 9,” said Mialhe, noting that one of the girls’ parents always accompanied the pack in a chase car and that they spent nights at beach homes of family or friends. “Those were boring days; we were not on the beach.”

For Mialhe, a highlight came on one of the beach runs near the end of the trek. “I really enjoyed Ocean City,” said Mialhe. “I had never been there before and I thought it was really interesting.”

With such an ambitious undertaking, aches and pains were inevitable. “After day three, my quads were very sore,” said Mialhe.

“The other girls were sore too so we spent an hour stretching and icing everyday. We all helped each other on the run. If someone was falling off, we would run behind her,”

On the final day, Mialhe experienced mixed emotions. “It was such a great adventure; I didn’t want it to end,” said Mialhe. “There was a lot of sadness.”

While Mialhe was sorry to see the run end, she is hopeful the group may do other fundraising activities in the future.

“It was a lot of fun; we were living with each other for 10 days,” said Mialhe, noting that the fundraising goal was $5,000 and that contributions of around $4,000 had been raised by the end of the run.

“There was a sense of accomplishment. I feel like I would do it again; it was such an interesting experience. We are talking about organizing something else and making it a regular thing.”

In the short term, making the journey should pay dividends for PHS when cross country season rolls around.

“It was great training,” said Mialhe. “If we can keep that shape, it should really help us for cross country.”

But no matter what happens this fall, Mialhe and her friends have already done a great thing.

BANNER DAY: Members of the Princeton Little League (PLL) 10-year-old all stars celebrate last Friday after topping Sunnybrae 9-5 to win the District 12 title. It is believed to be the PLL’s first District 12 crown. The team includes Jason Ramirez, Jake Renda, Evan Lilienthal, Dylan Ridall, Tommy Delany, Dylan Angelucci, Ben Petrone, Patrick McDonald, Aidan Regan, Boaz Segal, Drew Petrone, and Jaxon Petrone. The team is coached by Mike Petrone, Ryan Lilienthal, and John Angelucci.

BANNER DAY: Members of the Princeton Little League (PLL) 10-year-old all stars celebrate last Friday after topping Sunnybrae 9-5 to win the District 12 title. It is believed to be the PLL’s first District 12 crown. The team includes Jason Ramirez, Jake Renda, Evan Lilienthal, Dylan Ridall, Tommy Delany, Dylan Angelucci, Ben Petrone, Patrick McDonald, Aidan Regan, Boaz Segal, Drew Petrone, and Jaxon Petrone. The team is coached by Mike Petrone, Ryan Lilienthal, and John Angelucci.

Even though the Princeton Little League (PLL) 10-year-old all stars squandered an early four-run lead against Sunnybrae last Friday in the championship round of the District 12 tournament, Ben Petrone didn’t lose faith.

“I knew we could get more hits and more runs so I was not really concerned,” said Petrone, the Princeton shortstop and leadoff hitter.

“We were really confident, we knew we could do it. We were hitting the ball great.”

In the bottom of the second, Petrone came up with a big hit, knocking in Dylan Angelucci to help Princeton regain the lead at 5-4.

“I just wanted to knock him in any way I could and get on base,” said Petrone, reflecting on his clutch single.

Princeton never looked back, building a 6-4 lead in the second and going on to a 9-5 win and what is believed to be the PLL’s first District 12 crown.

In reflecting on Princeton’s 5-0 run through the tournament, Petrone cited the squad’s versatility as a key factor.

“I think we are a great all around team,” asserted Petrone. “We can pitch, we can run, play defense, and hit.”

Petrone, for his part, contributed both offensively and defensively, hitting .867 (13-for-15) in the tournament with 11 runs and playing superbly at shortstop.

“Every time I get up I try to get on base and get things started,” said Petrone.

“When it gets hit to me in the field, I try to make the play.”

Petrone’s father, Mike Petrone, the team’s manager, was confident his team would make the plays against Sunnybrae.

“Sunnybrae is a tough team, they are not going to go away easily,” said Petrone.

“We were going to stay tough and bounce back and we did. We have been swinging the bat great all tournament and we kept scoring runs.”

The team’s combative approach at the plate paid dividends. “We have nine kids who can hit,” said Petrone, whose team averaged 10.2 runs a contest in the tourney.

“Little League baseball is never going to be perfect; they are not major leaguers defensively. The theme at the beginning was to wear your hitting shoes, swing, and be aggressive and we kept doing that all through the tournament.”

Petrone’s son took that message to heart. “Ben has had a great tournament; he has gotten hit after hit,” said Petrone.

“He has scored a lot of runs and has played great defense at shortstop. He gets the other guys going and keep their heads in the game so he has done a great job.”

Princeton got some great pitching in the finale from starter Jake Renda and reliever Tommy Delany Renda went 4 and 1/3 innings and was sharp with the exception of the second while Delany came on to get the last five outs and worked out of a jam in the sixth after Sunnybrae got two on.

“Jake has had a tremendous tournament; he is the best pitcher in District 12,” said Petrone.

“He had a rough second inning; he stuck it out and pitched great. Tommy is tough as nails; he is the guy I want to have on the mound to get the last out. “

Based on the way Princeton prepared for the tournament, Petrone believed the team would be a tough out.

“We practiced hard every day and we got them focused and ready to play and put them in a position to win,” said Petrone. “At the end of the day, they did the job and played well.”

In the end, the squad achieved an historic breakthrough for the PLL program.

“It is a big accomplishment, the kids are proud,” said Petrone, whose team fell 9-5 to Middletown last Monday in the first round of the double-elimination Section 3 tournament.

“We have gotten great support from the parents and other people in the league and friends. It has been a wonderful thing.”

The younger Petrone has enjoyed the team’s wonderful run. “It was great; it was really fun to play,” said Petrone. “From the tryout, we knew we would be a good team. We looked really good from the first day.”

BEAU HUNTING: Beau Horan waits for a pitch in action during his Princeton Day School career. This past spring, infielder Horan made his college baseball debut as he played infield for the Williams College team.

BEAU HUNTING: Beau Horan waits for a pitch in action during his Princeton Day School career. This past spring, infielder Horan made his college baseball debut as he played infield for the Williams College team.

Beau Horan started his Williams College baseball career with a bang this March on a season-opening trip to Arizona.

The former Princeton Day School standout got a hit in his first at-bat in their 9-3 win over Wisconsin Superior on March 18 and then went 7-for-18 with six runs and six RBIs in his next six appearances.

“In the first game, I got in as a defensive replacement and in the second game, I took an at-bat,” said infielder Horan.

“I got a curve and hit a little blooper that fell in. It was nice to get out there and get a hit. The first base coach said ‘see how easy it is.’ I played my best ball of the spring in Arizona. I was competing with some other guys for shortstop and second base and I really wanted to make an impression and solidify my spot.”

For Horan, earning that spot was the culmination of an effort that started when he entered PDS.

“As a kid, everyone dreams of being in the major leagues; logically you realize at some point that isn’t going to happen and that college ball is the next thing,” said Horan.

“In my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I was starting to focus on it. I went to a lot of college showcases after my junior year. Right off the bat, I wanted to go to a school that was well off academically. You can’t depend on having a career in baseball. I was initially looking at Ivy schools like Princeton and Columbia. I realized that those programs might not work out. I had gotten a lot of looks from Division III schools so I realized that was my best option.”

Horan travelled to the northwestern corner of Massachusetts and found his best option in D-III Williams.

“Williams was the only school where I went on an official visit,” said Horan.

“I visited a couple of times over the summer when no students were there. I came in early October. I got to see the community and go to classes. I really enjoyed it, I learned a lot, I met some great people. Williams is quite the place.”

Upon starting college last September, Horan started his baseball learning curve with fall ball.

“We went on the field every other day and the other days we were weightlifting,” said Horan.

“In the beginning we did a lot of batting practice and took grounders. Near the end, we did some intra-squad stuff. That was a big help for me.”

While the preseason was spent mainly indoors, it helped acclimate Horan to what he would be facing in the spring.

“February 15 was the first day of real practice,” said Horan. “We were in the field house, we only got outside once before we went to Arizona. There are two cages, you can set up infield and take ground balls. It is a little tough for outfielders because the roof isn’t high enough for fly balls so they work more on their hitting. We have live pitching and live batting toward the end and work on game situations.”

After his hot start, Horan hit a tough stretch as Williams got into New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play.

“The quality of pitching is a big difference,” said Horan, who ended up batting .195 with 15 hits in 77 at-bats in 29 games as the Ephs went 15-23.

“Also you have scouting reports in college. In high school, you have seen some of the guys in travel ball. In college, you get information on the pitchers and a list of batters with their tendencies and details on who can run and who is hitting the ball well. I had to adjust to the league games, those games were really hyped up. It was scouting three pitchers against our three best pitchers and every pitch and every at-bat matters. It is a higher level of intensity.”

This summer, Horan is keeping his intensity up by playing for the Jersey Pilots in the high-level Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL).

“It is a better quality of baseball,” noted Horan, who was hitting .180 (9-for-50) through 19 games with the Pilots.

“It is mostly D-I guys. We have three D-III guys and they play on Kean which is one of the top D-III programs. It is a really tough league, I am getting adjusted to the pitching. I am going against guys who played for Rutgers, Rider, and Siena. I am hanging in there. I am working on becoming a better batter and going against guys like that will help me.”

As he looks ahead to his sophomore season, Horan is confident that he can be a better player for Williams.

“I won’t be surprised by things as a sophomore; I know what the coach is looking for,” said Horan.

“I know what the workouts are about. I want to put my best out there. I won’t be as worried about my spot and I think that will help me.”

BIG SKYE: Skye Ettin puts up a shot in action for The College of New Jersey men’s basketball team. This summer, former Princeton High star Ettin, who is a rising TCNJ junior and team captain, organized the Sneakers Plus entry into the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, a team comprised entirely of his college teammates. Last Monday, Ettin scored a game-high 23 points as Sneakers Plus topped Dr. Palmer 59-51 in improving to 4-2. In other action, Steve Harris scored 20 points and former PHS standout Matt Hoffman chipped in 13 as Northeast Realty topped the Ballerz 52-40 while Clear View Window Cleaning edged Ivy Inn 44-42.

BIG SKYE: Skye Ettin puts up a shot in action for The College of New Jersey men’s basketball team. This summer, former Princeton High star Ettin, who is a rising TCNJ junior and team captain, organized the Sneakers Plus entry into the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, a team comprised entirely of his college teammates. Last Monday, Ettin scored a game-high 23 points as Sneakers Plus topped Dr. Palmer 59-51 in improving to 4-2. In other action, Steve Harris scored 20 points and former PHS standout Matt Hoffman chipped in 13 as Northeast Realty topped the Ballerz 52-40 while Clear View Window Cleaning edged Ivy Inn 44-42.

Last winter, Skye Ettin and The College of New Jersey men’s basketball struggled through a 5-20 season.

The former Princeton High star, who is a rising TCNJ junior and team captain, decided that the squad could benefit from spending some time this summer in his neck of the woods.

As a result, Ettin organized the Sneakers Plus entry into the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, a team comprised entirely of TCNJ players.

“I was captain last year and being a second year captain is something that has led me to take on more leadership because we are a young team,” said Ettin.

“We only graduate one next year so I wanted to set this up in my hometown and get us going in the right direction, doing some summer workouts and captain’s practices. In the fall, everyone will be on the same page in how we need to work to be successful. We have struggled in the past as far as doing all the right things we need to do in the offseason; I think this is the first step to the success we need to have.”

Last Monday evening, Sneakers Plus took a big step in the right direction as it topped powerful Dr. Palmer 59-51 in summer hoops action.

“We had already lost to two of the better teams in the league and we wanted to just make sure that we were ready to play for this game so we came out with some fire,” said Ettin.

“We know they are a good team with great players so we wanted to try to get a win against a quality team and prove that we can play with anyone in the league and compete. I think we did that tonight and we made a statement. I am excited for postseason and what the rest of the season will bring.”

With Ettin on fire as he scored 13 points in the first half, Sneakers Plus built a 31-22 lead by intermission. Things got a little dicey as Dr. Palmer cut the gap to 51-46 with about six minutes to go in the second half. Sneakers Plus, though, didn’t lose its composure and pulled away to the victory as it improved to 4-2.

“I think we kept our cool, that was the main part,” said Ettin, who ended up with a game-high 23 points.

“We go up and play well like we did in the first half tonight and then we let teams get back into the game, which is one of the things that we need to work on. This was a really good test for us because they are skilled guys and they got it to five and we panicked a little bit and then we took control of the ball. We adjusted to running some of our sets in the end when they went to man. I am happy.”

Ettin was happy with the way he played in the win, staying hot to the final whistle.

“I thought my shot was falling early because they were sitting in the 2-3 zone and the high post is something I try to make my living on,” said the 6’5, 170-pound Ettin, who averaged 9.8 points a game for TCNJ in the 2012-13 campaign.

“I feel real comfortable at the high post and they were falling early so I tried to stay aggressive. I think the biggest thing for me out there and especially during the season is my consistency level. I can come out and have these type of games. For me, working on making shots every night and being aggressive and taking those shots is the first step in the right direction.”

In Ettin’s view, the work that Sneakers Plus is putting in this summer will help TCNJ get on the right track this winter.

“I think this is the best thing we could have done; getting the guys together and working on our chemistry so we can go into the season a step ahead of some teams and just a step ahead for us in general,” said Ettin.

“We can put coach [Kelly Williams] in a position where we are putting in new stuff and not working on our old habits. Every second we are out here is momentum going into our season.”

July 3, 2013
STAR TURN: Jen Hoy, right, controls the ball last fall in her final campaign with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. The Sellersville, Pa. native produced a brilliant senior season which saw her score 18 goals and earn Ivy League Player of the Year and second-team All-American honors on the way to leading Princeton to the league crown and a win in the NCAA tournament. Propelled by her big fall, Hoy is now playing in the pro ranks, competing for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STAR TURN: Jen Hoy, right, controls the ball last fall in her final campaign with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. The Sellersville, Pa. native produced a brilliant senior season which saw her score 18 goals and earn Ivy League Player of the Year and second-team All-American honors on the way to leading Princeton to the league crown and a win in the NCAA tournament. Propelled by her big fall, Hoy is now playing in the pro ranks, competing for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though Jen Hoy’s internship with Barclays took up most of her time last summer, that didn’t keep her from preparing hard for her final season on the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

“I was working long hours and I had to work out at night; I was playing in a league in the city on the weekends,” said Hoy, who had tallied a total of 18 goals in her first three college campaigns as the Tigers posted an overall record of 22-23-5.

“I was not satisfied with how we had done so far; I wanted to do everything I could to help the team and I was not going to stop until we were winning.”

Once Hoy got back to Princeton last fall, the speedy forward was an unstoppable force. The Sellersville, Pa. native scored 18 goals as the Tigers won the Ivy League title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, finishing with a final record of 14-4-1 overall and 7-0 Ivy.

Hoy earned a slew of awards for her stunning campaign, including Ivy Player of the Year, second-team All-American, and the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award as one of Princeton’s top senior female student-athletes.

“It was that attitude and the success that came from it that helped me be able to get into this position,” said Hoy, who ended up with 36 goals in her Tiger career, fourth-most in program history, and was a three-time All-Ivy choice.

“There was a sense of urgency; I was attacking the season and things came from that. We just clicked, it didn’t come down to any one thing. Everyone bought into the season and our team goals. I am so incredibly thankful for the awards and honors. At the end of the day, what means the most to me is that the team came together and won the title. In soccer, you can’t do anything alone.”

By virtue of finishing her college career with a bang, Hoy achieved goals of competing with the national program and joining a professional soccer team, as she played with the U.S. Under-23 national team this spring and signed with the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League after being drafted in January.

For Hoy, getting the call to the U-23 squad was a dream come true. “I was in school in my dorm room after going to Red Stars camp and I had a missed call from Es [Princeton assistant coach and Tiger all-time leading scorer Esmeralda Negron],” recalled Hoy.

“I played the voice mail and Es said ‘Jen I hope you had a nice trip back; you have been called to train with the U-23 team.’ I had thought about that for so long; there was a lot of jumping around. I had never played for one of the younger U.S. teams.”

Jumping at the chance to showcase her skills on a national level, Hoy scored a goal for the U-23 squad in an April 16 match against the US U-20 team.

“It was really exciting to get to know the high-level players and coaches,” said Hoy.

“A lot of people struggle in their first camp; it is hard to be competent. I struggled. Getting a goal made me more confident. I thought of coach Shackford [Princeton head coach Julie Shackford]. It was the type of goal she was always talking about. I was paying attention, the defender made a mistake, I stole a pass and scored with my left foot.”

Hoy trained with the U-23 squad again in May and is hoping for more action with the program.

“I was personally not satisfied with the May camp, I pulled a quad so that didn’t help,” said Hoy.

“It all depends on how you do at the camps; they have another camp coming up in a couple of months.”

Prior to her U-23 call up, Hoy was chosen by the Chicago Red Stars in the inaugural draft of the National Women’s Soccer League. She took part in a camp with the Red Stars in March, turning heads as she picked up an assist in a 2-0 win over Marquette in a scrimmage.

“It was a great way to put an end to my college career; I was not ready to be done with soccer,” said Hoy, reflecting on getting a chance to play for the Red Stars.

“I had wanted it but I didn’t expect it. The camp in March went really well. I set up a program with my strength coach, lifting, cardio, and playing. I was really prepared. I was fortunate to play well and get an offer.”

Finishing her classwork at Princeton after the March camp, Hoy headed to Chicago right after commencement.

“I graduated on June 4, drove out there on June 5, and joined the team on June 6,” said Hoy.

“It was good that I came out before because I got to know the girls. I really like my teammates and it was an easier transition.”

Since arriving, Hoy logged 49 minutes of action in two appearances, slowed by her nagging quad injury.

“It is difficult to compare pros to college; both are very fast-paced games,” said Hoy, whose calling card is blazing runs to goal.

“You are going against high quality players and mistakes can come back to bite you. If you lose the ball, it can end up being a goal for the other team. We have some national team players like Shannon Boxx; it is great playing with players you have looked up to for so long.”

Confident that she can rehab her injury and get back on the field, Hoy is looking to help the 3-6-3 Red Stars make a playoff push in the eight-team league that has regular season play running into mid-August.

“As a rookie, nothing much is expected of you so you can do anything,” said Hoy. “I want to help the team continue to win and make a positive contribution, whatever that means.”

Noting how far she has come since last summer, Hoy is looking to stay in the game as long as possible.

“Ideally I will play for at least another year,” said Hoy. “It is all about performance. If I play well, I can stick with it a little
longer.”

STARTING POINT: Mia Haughton looks to unload the ball this spring in her freshman season on the Amherst College women’s lacrosse team. Thrust into a starting role due to injury, midfielder Haughton responded with 15 points on seven goals and eight assists. (Photo Courtesy of Amherst College Sports Information)

STARTING POINT: Mia Haughton looks to unload the ball this spring in her freshman season on the Amherst College women’s lacrosse team. Thrust into a starting role due to injury, midfielder Haughton responded with 15 points on seven goals and eight assists.
(Photo Courtesy of Amherst College Sports Information)

Mia Haughton was prepared to assume a supporting role as she looked forward to making her debut with the Amherst College women’s lacrosse team this March.

But on the eve of the first game of the 2013 campaign, former Princeton High standout Haughton got a surprise.

“One of our best midfielders broke her hand in a preseason scrimmage against Trinity and had to get surgery,” said Haughton.

“I didn’t know I was going to start until the day before our opener vs. Colby — it was a great feeling.”

Haughton made a great first impression, picking up two assists in a 10-7 loss. In the team’s next contest a day later, Haughton tallied a goal and two assists to help Amherst post a 9-8 victory.

For Haughton, scoring her first college goal was a special moment.

“The goal was off an assist from one of my captains, Hillary Densen,” recalled Haughton.

“It was a quick stick goal off a cut through the 8. I don’t remember much except that after I scored my captain Marta Randall ran over to me and picked me up. It was one of the best feelings ever to hear ‘Goal scored by number 4 Mia Haughton’ announced over the loud speaker.”

That opening weekend success was years in the making. “I started seriously thinking about playing lacrosse in college the summer before my sophomore year of high school,” said Haughton, who also starred for the PHS girls’ soccer team.

“I started my freshmen year at PHS which was a huge confidence boost and my coach Christie Cooper continually urged me to try to play at the next level.”

Haughton took Cooper’s advice and ended up at Amherst. “At first I was considering a bunch of D-I schools like Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell, and Colgate but eventually decided that I wanted to play D-III due to the fact that I really wanted to study abroad a semester of my junior year and that’s really hard to do at a D-I program,” said Haughton.

“After that I pretty much narrowed my options down to schools in the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference] since its arguably the most competitive D-III conference in the country. Amherst had everything I was looking for in a school. It’s small, in a quaint town, and extremely competitive both academically and athletically.”

Upon arriving at Amherst this past fall, Haughton quickly realized that she faced no small task in both arenas.

“Fall ball was extremely challenging and time consuming but also very rewarding,” said Haughton.

“During the fall we would have two days a week of sprint class, three days a week of lifting and three days of practicing, all led by the captains. The biggest challenge was definitely balancing my time between school and lacrosse. Amherst is very challenging academically and it was sometimes hard to manage it especially during the season.”

The presence of former PHS teammate and good friend Katie Reilly as a fellow freshman on the Amherst team helped Haughton deal with the challenges.

“It’s awesome to have Katie at Amherst with me,” asserted Haughton. “We’ve been playing sports together so long that we can almost read each others minds on the field and we know how to push each other and make each other better. It’s also really fun to have someone to reminisce about high school with.”

The PHS pair leaned on each other as preseason practices got underway this February.

“Preseason was a little bit of a shock; I was definitely really nervous but it helped having 11 other freshmen with me who were going through the same thing,” said Haughton.

“The upperclassman were also super welcoming and encouraging so I was able to feel comfortable pretty early in the season.

Haughton acknowledges that she had some nervous moments in making the adjustment to the next level.

“College lacrosse is very different from high school lacrosse,” noted Haughton.

“Girls are generally bigger, faster, and more skilled. Scouting also has a much larger role in college than in high school. The NESCAC allows coaches to swap films of their team’s games with other league coaches so that they can do a good amount of scouting and preparing before every game. This makes the games way more competitive and strategic. In high school, it is not abnormal for a girl to run the ball all the way from the defensive end to the attacking end. In college, the second you try to do this you will be swarmed by at least three defenders every time.”

As the spring went on, Haughton felt that she was competing better and better.

“My confidence as well as my stick skills definitely improved as the season progressed,” said Haughton, who ended the season with 15 points on seven goals and eight assists as she played in all 15 of Amherst’s games starting 12 for the 9-6 Lord Jeffs.

“It was really uplifting to see how much confidence my coaches and the veterans had in me and I wanted to make them proud. I would say I most improved in making smarter decisions like passing it down the field in transition rather than trying to run it.”

For Haughton, one of her proudest moments of the season came in a 10-8 loss at Connecticut College in mid-April.

“My biggest personal highlight was in the Connecticut College game,” recalled Haughton.

“We were down one player due to a yellow card and Conn was trying to set up a scoring opportunity in the attacking end. I noticed the girl I was defending put her head down for one second so I checked the ball out of her stick, picked up the ground ball, sprinted the length of the field and scored.

Although the Lord Jeffs had hoped to do better this spring, Haughton sees a lot of highlights ahead for the program.

“It’s always disappointing to not do as well as you were hoping to do or knew you could do,” said Haughton.

“We were a really young team with only five juniors and three graduating seniors, so it was definitely a transition year for us. In 2012, we graduated almost our entire defense, including our goalie. So considering the inexperience of our defensive unit, anchored by a freshman goalie, I think we did pretty well. We’re definitely looking forward to the future.”

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.