June 18, 2014
VISION OF SUCCESS: Hun School softball head coach Kathy Quirk views the action from the dugout. Quirk, who just completed her 39th season at the helm of the program, was recently inducted into the Trenton Softball Hall of Fame in the women’s coaching division.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

VISION OF SUCCESS: Hun School softball head coach Kathy Quirk views the action from the dugout. Quirk, who just completed her 39th season at the helm of the program, was recently inducted into the Trenton Softball Hall of Fame in the women’s coaching division. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For players on the Hun School softball team, earning the squad’s “Iron Woman” award is a coveted honor.

“It is for commitment; you get it if you don’t miss a practice and you are ready to play in every game,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk, explaining the award.

“On this year’s team out of 12 girls, seven got it. I strive to make kids feel that softball is important to them.”

Quirk herself qualifies as an iron lady, having just finished her 39th spring guiding the Hun softball program. In recognition of her longevity and a run of success that has seen the Raiders win 10 state Prep titles in her tenure, Quirk was recently inducted into the Trenton Softball Hall of Fame in the women’s coaching division.

In reflecting on the honor, Quirk, 63, wasn’t expecting it to come her way.

“I was caught off guard, I said you have to be kidding me,” said Quirk. “There are so many qualified coaches in the area and they are just as deserving so it was kind of a shock. It is very well appreciated.”

It was a high school coach that put Quirk on the path to her Hall of Fame career.

“I was influenced to get into coaching by my field hockey coach, Mary Anne Morgan, she was this young, dynamic coach,” said Quirk, a native of Runnymede, N.J. who went to Sterling High.

“I remember we went to camp and she stood on the table and she was dancing to the Supremes. She had such a positive influence on me.”

Quirk starred in field hockey, softball and basketball at Sterling and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1997.

Applying to Trenton State (now The College of New Jersey) against her father’s wishes, who wanted her to stay home and go to Glassboro State (now Rowan University), Quirk was accepted and came to Mercer County to continue her athletics career and pursue her goal of teaching and coaching.

“When I went to Trenton State I played all three sports up until my senior year,” said Quirk, who was named the school’s top female athlete in her sophomore year.

“My junior year I went abroad and played field hockey over in England and then came back in January so I didn’t play basketball; I just played softball. In my senior year, I just played field hockey and softball.”

After graduating from Trenton State in 1973, Quirk stayed in the area as she found a home at the Hun School.

“I graduated from Trenton State and Hun was looking for a field hockey coach,” said Quirk.

“I remember taking the bus and walking up and coming down here. I can remember what I actually wore that day. It is crazy. By the time I left, they hired me as a health and Phys. Ed. teacher and I was going to coach field hockey, basketball, and softball for $5,500 a year.”

Just months out of college, Quirk had to be a quick study as she plunged into  coaching.

“It was tough because you are not much older than the kids you are coaching,” said Quirk

“I think I was 22 and the school had just taken girls the year before or two years before and some of them were 17, 18. It was a challenge.”

Quirk faced a challenge in making the fledging Hun softball program competitive.

“It was more of a rec type program, more of a JV program, they were still building,” said Quirk.

“We didn’t have the equipment and facilities. I think it was just a gradual thing. We were playing on a grass field and my parents one weekend helped us skin the infield down there. We took wheel barrows and brought it all out; we took the dirt in. At that time, you didn’t have a big budget.”

By the 1990s, Hun was a big-time power in New Jersey prep softball circles. “In 1997, 1998, 1999 we won three in a row, which was really great,” said Quirk, whose office in the school’s Athletic Center has framed photos of each of those teams on the wall with other championships squads. “They were a good bunch of kids, they worked hard.”

Hard work and tenacity are two of the main cornerstones of Quirk’s coaching approach.

“I am a believer in fundamentals and drills,” said Quirk, who was inducted into the Hun School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

“I tell them that it is not always the most talented people that win but it is those who have the desire to win. You get that from constant repetition and constant drilling. I am not a screamer and a yeller. I think I prepare them enough that when they step on the field, they are ready to play the game.”

Getting Hun ready to play has been a family affair as Quirk’s husband, Bill, is her longtime assistant, and youngest son, Patrick, has helped out as well.

“We all bring something different to the table,” said Quirk, who guided the raiders to a 9-8 record this spring and an appearance in the state Prep A semifinals. “Pat worked with the infield, I work with the outfielders, Bill works with the batters so we all have our own role. It has been a family type thing.”

Over the years, Quirk’s former players have started to feel like family. “We had an alumni weekend; it was a little crazy, I am trying to coach a game and they are walking on the field to say hello,” said Quirk.

“Some of them have told me I have gotten a little soft in my years. I still hear from players. Aly Klemmer ’10 is coming back today to have lunch with me. I am not their best friend but I think they respect me and know what is expected and I think they appreciate that when it’s all done and all over.”

Quirk has appreciated getting the opportunity to coach for so many years. “I just think that coaching is very special; you form a bond with these girls,” asserted Quirk.

“There are days when they are having a bad day and I have to look past that. I always tell them when you walk into that team room and you walk down to that field, I want two hours of your time and I think they have learned to do that. I think they have learned to grow. I just watch my players, like I watched Kristen Manochio this year who we brought out of center field and to third base and by the end of the season you saw something shine in her eyes when she made a good play. It was not easy for her but as we told her, we believe in you and if we believe in you, you have to believe in yourself. I try to instill that about believing in themselves.”

In the final analysis, Quirk tries to instill life lessons that resonate long after high school.

“I am very competitive but there is more to the game than winning,” said Quirk.

“It is about building character and learning how to work with each other and learning how to be a teammate. It is learning how the game goes and being able to take the losses with the wins.”

OPENING STATEMENT: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles the ball upcourt last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Davison helped defending league champion Ivy Inn edge Northeast Realty 53-44 in the opening night of 2014 summer hoops action.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING STATEMENT: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles the ball upcourt last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Davison helped defending league champion Ivy Inn edge Northeast Realty 53-44 in the opening night of 2014 summer hoops action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bobby Davison acknowledged that Father Time is catching up with him as his Ivy Inn squad started its 2014 campaign last week in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

“Honestly, I never thought I would be one of the oldest guys in the league,” said Davison, a former hoops standout for Princeton High and The College of New Jersey.

“It was like yesterday that I was playing for SMB and now all of a sudden I am 30 and I have been in the league for 15 years.”

It took Ivy Inn a while to get its legs moving last Wednesday in the opener against Northeast Realty stocked with recent PHS alums. Knotted at 31-31 midway through the second half, Ivy pulled away to a 53-44 victory.

“It is never easy as the years go on,” said Davison. “We all have families now and we are not playing nearly as much as we used to. Playing a team like these guys is a very difficult first game for us coming right out of the gate.”

But with age comes savvy and defending league champion Ivy used that quality in overcoming Northeast.

“Arguably, we are the oldest, most experienced team in the league aside from Winberie’s probably,” said Davison, noting that Ivy Inn includes such stalwarts as Shahid Abdul-Karim, Mark Aziz, and Buddy Thomas.

“It is all veteran guys who have won championships, we have managed to keep the nucleus of the team together. Down the stretch you go to the foul line and we make foul shots and that’s what the experience and all that brings.”

Ivy Inn has supplemented that nucleus by adding Sherm Brittingham last year and picking up Greg Ford this summer.

“Last year having Sherm was a huge pickup and immediately we reached out to him again this year; he was excited and more than happy to be part of the team again,” added Davison.

“He just fits what we do, he is a great guy. He is a team player, he plays defense and he’s perfect for the Ivy Inn. I had the opportunity to play with Greg in the Hamilton league and I had so much fun playing with him. I figured this year I would rather play with him than against him. Every year we try to pick up one or two people, this year, it was Greg and I think he is going to be a huge addition to the team.”

In reflecting on his role, Davison is looking to provide some key intangibles for Ivy Inn, which fell 44-40 last Friday to Tortuga’s Mexican Village, the squad featuring the current TCNJ hoops players.

“I don’t get a chance to play as much but as the season progresses my role will increase,” said Davison, an officer with the East Windsor police department.

“I just try to be a leader and help us out on defense. I try to focus all of my attention on the defensive end and then on offense, create shots for the offensive players.”

Davison and his teammates are focused on getting another title this summer. “We have done it a couple of times,” said Davison of Ivy Inn, which has won four crowns in the last six summers.

“It is funny because even when we were running into guys here or there, they were saying we can’t wait to get back out and defend the title. I think it means a lot, guys are excited, they want to come out here and they take pride getting another title and repeating.”

June 11, 2014
HAMMER TIME: Princeton University sophomore Julia Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. This week, Ratcliffe will be competing in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. ­Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, is undefeated in 11 competitions this spring and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event. She has produced the best mark in the nation this year at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HAMMER TIME: Princeton University sophomore Julia Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. This week, Ratcliffe will be competing in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. ­Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, is undefeated in 11 competitions this spring and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event. She has produced the best mark in the nation this year at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

When Julia Ratcliffe was about 12, her father brought home a special surprise one day.

“He said Julia I have got you a present,” said Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand.

“I thought oh great, he never gives me presents out of the blue. It was on my bed and I said what the hell was that, that looks serious.”

The mystery package turned out to be hammer throw equipment and it didn’t take long for Ratcliffe to show that she had a gift for the event.

After dominating local and national competitions, Ratcliffe started to make her mark internationally.

“The Australian Youth Olympic festival in 2009 was my first big one,” said Ratcliffe.

“I got a gold in that. It was cool to have some success overseas especially because I wasn’t picked to win that one. I started getting more and more into it as I got older in high school. I started going to bigger international meets and things like that.”

Ratcliffe set the New Zealand U-18 and U-19 record for the women’s hammer throw on her way to placing fourth in the 2012 IAAFWorld Junior Championships.

In 2012, Ratcliffe came to the U.S., joining the Princeton University women’s track team and made an immediate impact, setting a school record in the weight throw in her debut meet and going on to take second in the event at the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor championship. In the spring season, she broke the school and Ivy record in the hammer throw several times and won the outdoor Heps title in the event.

This week, Ratcliffe is in Eugene, Oreg., competing in the NCAA Championships. Having won all 11 of her competitions so far this spring, sophomore star Ratcliffe is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event.

Ratcliffe is bringing some extra motivation into the NCAA meet, having finished 11th at the nationals last spring.

“I was ranked second, even if I had an average day I should have done a lot better,” said Ratcliffe, who boasts the best mark in the nation this year in the hammer throw at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history.

“I just tried too hard so coming off that, I had renewed energy, really wanting to get better, do my best, and just figure out what went wrong and fix it.”

Staying in the moment this spring has helped Ratcliffe produce a brilliant campaign.

“As long as I go out there and give it everything and just be mentally and physically prepared as best as I can, you can’t complain about the result,” said Ratcliffe, citing her experience at the Penn Relays as an  example of her progress, noting that she fouled out of the 2013 competition and then uncorked a heave of 216’2 to place first this year and record the third best throw in the history of the storied meet.

“I just feel a lot more mentally prepared this year and I feel like I have the process better understood in my head. I understand myself a lot better when I am competing.”

Ratcliffe has enjoyed competing at and for Princeton. “It was unreal, we have nothing like this in New Zealand, just in terms of all these sports complexes in one place,” said Ratcliffe, who came to Princeton sight unseen and had only been to the U.S. for a family trip to California when she was 10.

“It was 60 ready made friends on the team. I would have probably found it a lot harder if I weren’t on a team. I am pretty social though but it is nice to have a wide range of interests on the team.”

In looking to the U.S. for college, she followed in the footsteps of high school friends.

“There were a few girls in my high school who went overseas on field hockey scholarships and so I thought that might be something I would like to do; I think I might have a good enough academic record to do that,” said Ratcliffe, who attended the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.

“I didn’t know how I ranked academically and athletically against kids applying to different colleges.”

Considering such schools as Duke, Stanford, and Cornell, Ratcliffe concluded that Princeton was her dream school.

“I decided to go for my top choice which was Princeton because of the economics program here,” said Ratcliffe.

“I just really wanted to study economics. In New Zealand, it is expected that when you go into university that you know what you want to study so you start specializing immediately. I actually reached out to Ed Roskiewicz, who was the Princeton field coach at the time, and so I said hi, these are my distances, these are my SAT scores, will you have me.’”

Princeton women’s track head coach Peter Farrell is certainly glad to have Ratcliffe.

“There is an uncertainty with foreign athletes, you never know how they are going to mesh, it is a different system,” said Farrell.

“I was at a football game her freshman year and I saw a bunch of our freshman athletes there and one of them was in a tiger outfit and it was Julia. I said look at that, she has picked up on the college spirit.”

Farrell believes the lessons Ratcliffe gained from her freshman year has helped her pick it up this spring.

“She had ups and downs as a freshman and that is to be expected; she seemed to do well at home and not as well when she left the confines here,” said Farrell.

“She has one year of maturity and one year of competition under her belt. She is so methodical and consistent in her training, it is like a distance runner who runs 100 miles a week. She throws five to six days a week and not many throwers do that. She is devoted to her craft; it is her passion. She is incredibly fast at the end of her four turns but is still in control.”

Ratcliffe has also made an impression through her engaging personality. “She is an outgoing person, she has made friends easily with teammates,” added Farrell of Ratcliffe, who was recently named the Regional Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

“She has made friends with her opponents, she talks to every single competitor. It is not condescending, she is inclusive with her opponents. We have a grandfather class, 1966, for 2016 and there are three guys that have been coming to the meets and she talks and jokes with them.”

For Ratcliffe, there is no kidding around when it comes to her training regimen.

“I do a lot of power lifting and Olympic lifting, cleans and snatches and things like that,” said the 5’7 Ratcliffe, noting that her dad helps set her weight training program.

“The key muscle groups are the rotational core and quad strength. I do a lot of squats and dead lifts. I take 20 throws generally in a session. I throw different weights for speed and strength work. It is the power you can get into it from getting in the right body positions because I have been doing it for so long, especially in competition.”

As Ratcliffe looks forward to the hammer competition in Eugene, which is slated for June 11, she is focused on having the right frame of mind.

“I just want to throw well and keep it together because it is so easy to get overexcited and really nervous,” said Ratcliffe, who will be joined at the meet by five Princeton teammates, freshman Megan Curham (10,000 run), sophomore Adam Bragg (pole vault), senior Damon McLean (triple jump), junior Eddie Owens (steeplechase), and senior Chris Bentsen (10,000 run).

“So it is just having a solid series. I obviously want to throw far and the goal is obviously to win but you can’t control what everyone else does on the day so you can only do the best for you. In team sports, like field hockey, you can react to how the other people are playing. In this, you have to focus on yourself and do the best for you.”

Having qualified to compete in this summer’s Commonwealth Games, a major international meet being held in Glasgow, Scotland, Ratcliffe has her sights set on the world stage.

“I would love to go the Olympics in 2016 so that’s a big goal,” said Ratcliffe.

“I would also like to make it to a world champs. It would be kind of cool to get the NCAA record. I am not entirely sure what it is but if it is within reach that would be good.”

WINNING SHOT: Princeton High senior Michelle Bazile goes low as she starts a shot put in action this spring. Last Wednesday, the Brown-bound Bazile won the shot put at the Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High. She produced a school-record heave of 43’6.25 in taking the title. This weekend, Bazile will be competing on the national stage as she takes part in the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoors Championships at Greensboro, N.C.

WINNING SHOT: Princeton High senior Michelle Bazile goes low as she starts a shot put in action this spring. Last Wednesday, the Brown-bound Bazile won the shot put at the Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High. She produced a school-record heave of 43’6.25 in taking the title. This weekend, Bazile will be competing on the national stage as she takes part in the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoors Championships at Greensboro, N.C.

Michelle Bazile joined the track team at the John Witherspoon School in the spring of 2008 because she was looking to fit in.

“I was kind of anti-social at the beginning of sixth grade and my parents made me go out for a sport in the spring,” said Bazile.

“I disliked running and my dad was the throwing coach so I started throwing. I didn’t really like it but I stuck with it because I didn’t want to run.”

By the time Bazile entered Princeton High in 2010, she was committed to throwing.

“I started to enjoy it more; coming out of eighth grade, I thought it was a pretty good path to pursue,” said Bazile. “Number one, it was something I was enjoying and, number two, throwing can help get you recruited to college.”

Bazile’s path resulted in a state championship last Wednesday as the senior star won the shot put at the Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High.

As Bazile arrived at the meet last Wednesday to compete in the shot and the discus, she wasn’t focused on titles.

“I was just thinking about getting a personal record (PR),” said Bazile. “I didn’t care what I placed as long as I was happy with my distances.”

Early in the competition, Bazile achieved a new distance for her. “This girl named Cheyenne (Cheyenne Bellerand of Emerson High) popped a 43’3 on her first throw,” recalled Bazile. “I was seeded first so I threw last. My PR was 42’4 so I needed to beat my PR by a foot. I had 43’6.25 on my first throw.”

That throw, also a school record, held up and earned Bazile the title with Bellerand taking second.

“I wasn’t thinking about whether I was first,” said Bazile, who didn’t find out that she won until she was competing in the discus on her her way to a 14th place finish in that event. “I didn’t know where I was. I threw 45 on my last throw but my foot hit the board so it was a foul.”

Days after winning the championship, the achievement still hadn’t sunk in for Bazile.

“It’s kind of weird; I can’t believe it actually happened,” said Bazile. “The New Jersey girls at the national championships will be thinking of me as the girl who won. I will have a target on my back.”

In Bazile’s first two years at PHS, it didn’t look like a state title was going to happen for her. As a freshman, she was at 30 feet in the shot and threw 105’4 in the discus to make the sectionals. In her sophomore season, she got her shot in the 36 area and had a personal best of 127’3 in the discus.

“A lot of things started coming together in my junior year,” said Bazile. “For shot put, it helped that I did winter track instead of basketball so I was throwing constantly. At the Penn Relays that year I got my PR in the discus of 139’3 that is still my PR. It is a little frustrating. I was changing a lot of my technique and I got more into weightlifting.”

Entering her senior year, Bazile was confident that she could build on the progress she made as a junior.

“It was not so much about winning titles, it was more about getting personal bests,” said Bazile.

“In the winter, I was looking for 41-42 in the shot; I think I might have been at 41 in the postseason. In the discus, I was looking for 150-160, which is totally within my ability.”

As the season has unfolded, Bazile has been surprised by how well she has done in the shot.

“I had always felt that discus was my specialty until this year,” said Bazile. “I have been consistently throwing the shot put better and I am higher ranked in the shot put.”

Winning both the shot and the discus in the Mercer County Championships in May was a confidence builder for Bazile heading into state competition.

“At the counties, I had my best series in the shot put and the discus,” said Bazile, who had a throw of 41’2.5 to win the shot and a heave of 130’6 in winning the discus.

“I was in the high 120s and 130s in the discus. I had the shot consistently in the 40-41.”

This weekend, Bazile will be taking a shot at more glory as she competes in the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoors Championships at Greensboro, N.C.

“I have registered only for the shot in the championship division,” said Bazile, who is heading to Brown University where she will be throwing for its women’s track program.

“For the shot put I am looking to go 45 or better and stay in the circle. In the discus, I am entered in the emerging elite division. I have one more discus competition in my high school career. It would be great to PR but I just want to have fun.”

Bazile has certainly had a lot of fun since she grudgingly took up throwing six years ago.

GUIDING HAND: Greg Hand is enjoying the moment at a Princeton High swim meet this past winter. Hand, the longtime head coach of the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams and the girls’ soccer program, recently announced that he is retiring from teaching and coaching.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GUIDING HAND: Greg Hand is enjoying the moment at a Princeton High swim meet this past winter. Hand, the longtime head coach of the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams and the girls’ soccer program, recently announced that he is retiring from teaching and coaching. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Going by the numbers, it is clear that Greg Hand knows something about winning.

In 23 seasons as the head coach of the Princeton High girls’ soccer team, Hand has compiled a record of 223-152-20 with numerous appearances in the state tournament, a sectional title in 2012, and some stirring runs in the Mercer County Tournament.

Guiding the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming programs since 1996-97, Hand molded the Little Tigers into a powerhouse. In his tenure, the boys’ squad has gone 202-46-3 with seven county crowns, 12 sectional titles, five appearances in the state finals, and a New Jersey Public B championship in 2012. During that stretch, the Little Tiger girls’ team has posted a record of 152-63-2 with two county crowns, seven sectional titles, and four appearances in the Public B championship meet.

But for Hand, the subject of winning hasn’t been the daily focus as he has worked with the PHS athletes over the years.

“I have wanted to challenge the kids to find out what 100 percent felt like, what it looked like when a team was there so that — to me — is one of the great coaching challenges,” said Hand.

“So if you are functioning at 90 percent, you are not even close. We are talking about working hard every day but also understanding hard work better than you did before you came into the season or better than you did a few years ago and really getting to understand what your potential for work is. I don’t just mean physical exertion but for focus and recovering from mistakes and what that looks like when you are really doing it right.”

After doing things right at PHS since the 1980s on the field, in the pool, and in the classroom teaching AP U.S. history, Hand has decided to retire from teaching and coaching.

In reflecting on his decision, Hand concluded that it is time to take a break from his heavy work load.

“The normal demands were 80-100 hours a week for about 40 years,” said Hand, 63.

“My life has rotated around my professional work as a teacher and a coach on the one hand and my family on the other hand. I don’t have a sense beyond that, even including summers when I have always been looking to preparing for the next academic year and the next seasons that were coming up in the next year. I am interested in finding out what life will be like without that constancy of focus on my profession.”

Hand’s life turned in the direction of teaching after he matriculated to Princeton University.

“It was not something I thought a great deal about but during college, I decided to become certified to become a substitute teacher,” said Hand, a native of Pound Ridge, N.Y. who played basketball and competed in track for his high school.

“I spent many a day during those years substituting at Trenton Central, all five of the middle schools, and the occasional failed effort to be an elementary school teacher for a day. I really, really felt and saw something there. I learned a little about the teacher preparation program so decided to follow up and learn more about it and then enrolled at the program at Princeton. My certificate came through the teacher prep program with the student teaching and so on in my senior year.”

After a stint at the Newgrange School, Hand came to the Princeton school system in 1985 as a teacher at John Witherspoon. He coached the PHS JV boys’ soccer team and served as an assistant for the Little Tiger track program, concentrating on the throwers. He moved to PHS in 1988 and took a three-year hiatus from coaching soccer to get himself established in his new position.

Hand took the helm of the PHS girls’ soccer program in 1991 and threw himself into the job.

“The wonderful challenge of head coaching is to deal with every possible aspect of the sport and also the real time nature of it,” said Hand, who continued to serve as a track assistant coach through spring of 2010.

“As much as you can do on the outside to prepare, to study, and try to improve yourself and try to come up with ideas, a huge amount of the execution in coaching is generally a real time response to what the situation happens to be.”

For Hand, one of the best situations he encountered during his career was the chance to coach his children, Emily, Matt, and Pete, in swimming.

“It was one of the most special things in my life,” asserted Hand, grinning broadly.

“There was a period where I had Emily and Matt. Em had to stop her career early because she had shoulder problems throughout her teenage life. I started with Matt in his freshman year and then after Matt graduated, Pete came in the following year. They were five years apart. It was thrilling in so many ways. The obvious one in terms of a family connection is just getting to experience something with your kids unlike anything else you might be able to do.”

Seeing his boys’ swimming team roll past Scotch Plains-Fanwood 109-61 in the 2012 state Public B championship meet provided Hand with a thrilling memory he won’t soon forget.

“I have never seen anything like it, the opposing coach said she had never seen anything like it,” said Hand.

“They had beaten us the year before, they were marginally the better team. We certainly lost more state championship meets than we won and what that does is to remind me that in sports, the contest is the thing. Winning is just extra special but it involves a whole different set of emotions, it seems to me, it is a combination of joy and in some ways, relief.”

In reflecting on his soccer tenure, Hand cited the impact that special players made on a year-to-year basis.

“One thing that runs through all of the sports but soccer in particular and certainly stands out there is the different character that each team had,” said Hand.

“We were, depending on the year, losing more than we were winning but there was a really good soccer culture and some terrific young ladies and really fine players. I think of teams that were shaped by the character of particular players, let’s say maybe we had a back four that was really solid and one year we had an incredible midfield and the next year we might have a real character forward.”

With that character came some outstanding play. “One of the great things about soccer to me was that regardless of what their particular abilities were, when the game is really flowing and it is not just attractive soccer, it is very effective, sometimes surprisingly effective,” added Hand.

“That is so rewarding when you see it. Sometimes you see it in spurts but other times you would see if for an entire half or a large majority of a game. There were such players and teams throughout the 23 years and some of them made the game look the way it should.”

One of Hand’s chief aims was to get his athletes to raise the level of their game.

“I tried to help kids understand that they have another gear,” said Hand. “That is rooted in my own experience in trying to be a good athlete and seeing it in the world of sports throughout my entire life when people do the things that literally make me catch my breath and almost cry. Student-athletes do have another gear and if they haven’t found it, it doesn’t mean that they won’t find it and if they have found it at some time, it is worth remembering what that was like and trying to connect with that more often.”

In Hand’s view, the pursuit of that extra gear helps a team come together collectively.

“The final thing I can think of in my sense of how athletes and teams get good is trying to help them to see some sort of cyclical relationship between hard work and team spirit,” said Hand.

“When you start working hard and challenging them to be enthusiastic as they are working and they complete some piece of work, whether it is a swimming workout or a real challenging exercise that we are doing in soccer or a certain number of reps of a certain type in track, that hard work generates a certain kind of spirit. The discussion there is to get the team to want to do more because they feel great about what doing more feels like.”

PHS athletic director John Miranda lauds Hand’s quality of work on many levels.

“He was an old school coach, wearing a shirt and a tie to the swimming meets,” said Miranda.

“He was incredibly well organized and incredibly thorough. He was always respected for his sportsmanship and his teams always showed good sportsmanship. He was a great teacher of the different sports but what he taught off the field was more important. He coached thousands of kids over the years, with 100 in swimming every year, 50 girls in soccer program, and 25 throwers.”

While Miranda is happy to see Hand step aside on his own terms, he rues the void being left in his wake.

“He is going to be really missed,” said Miranda. “He is the best combination of athletics, academics, and sportsmanship, a shining example to aspire to.”

Hand, for his part, will miss the daily interaction with his colleagues and students.

“It has been a thrill to be in the company of coaches who are so good at what they do,” said Hand, who plans to remain in Princeton and is looking into doing some track and swimming officiating and volunteer coaching.

“I feel very lucky to have worked with them and learned from them. The second thing, for sure, is the thrill day in, day out of working with student athletes, to try to help them actualize their potential. Even if I am tired, you get to the coaching venue and that is gone for what generally amounts to two or three hours and it is just completely focused and positive. There is always this effort to find a way to be constructive; wasted time is never in the agenda for coaching or teaching and I loved that.”

And Hand has undoubtedly made the most of his time at PHS in setting an example of class and success over the decades.

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton High softball player Stephanie Wu races around the bases in recent action. Sophomore third baseman Wu emerged as a star for PHS this spring, hitting a team-high .364. The Little Tigers went 4-4 in their last eight games to end up with a 7-16 final record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton High softball player Stephanie Wu races around the bases in recent action. Sophomore third baseman Wu emerged as a star for PHS this spring, hitting a team-high .364. The Little Tigers went 4-4 in their last eight games to end up with a 7-16 final record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After losing 12 of its first 15 games this season, the Princeton High softball team could have thrown in the towel.

Instead, the Little Tigers came alive down the stretch, playing their best ball of the year.

“In the last 8 games we were 4-4,” said PHS head coach Dave Boehm, whose team ended the season by beating WW/P-N 14-9 on May 14 and topping Trenton 12-4 on May 19 to post a final record of 7-16.

“Of those losses, one was to Notre Dame, who had one defeat at that point, it was 4-0 in a game that was 0-0 in the fifth inning; there was a 5-4 loss to Nottingham in the bottom of the seventh and 6-4 to WW/P-S in the Mercer County Tournament. WW/P-S and Nottingham had 10-runned us earlier in the season.”

Going with the tandem of freshman Kayla Volante and junior tri-captain Sarah Eisenach to share the pitching duties within games helped the Little Tigers get more competitive.

“We called it our two-headed monster,” said Boehm of the rotation that saw Volante compile a 3.10 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 61 innings pitched and Eisenach post an ERA of 6.24 with 67 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings.

“I think it threw other teams off. Kayla has a little better movement and Sarah is faster and not afraid to go inside on batters. I would have them go two or three innings at a time.”

The trio of seniors Liana Bloom, Katie Kanter, and tri-captain Jessica Campisi helped the team stay on track.

“Liana filled in for Emily DiLella at first base and she did a good job; she played the last 8-9 games and did very well defensively,” said Boehm.

“She struggled at the plate a little bit but she didn’t take that out to the field; she was able to separate that. Katie Kanter is a total team player, even though she is not catching any more, she would put equipment on and warm up pitchers. Jess stepped in at shortstop and did a really good job. She had a number of key hits for us. She works a count; she led us in walks.”

Sophomores Stephanie Wu and tri-captain Kelli Swedish led the way for PHS offensively.

“Wu hit .364, that is very good for a kid who hit about .190 last year,” said Boehm.

“She had big hits and she hit for power. Her homer against Ewing was not wind-aided. Swedish being injured for a while hurt us. We can count on her in left field. She hit .357 and she has some pop. She is our best baserunner, she doesn’t
make a lot of mistakes.”

Volante and classmate Nancy Gray emerged as players who could be counted on.

“Kayla didn’t pitch a lot in the beginning; when we went to the two-inning thing, she got more confident,” said Boehm.

“She knew she didn’t have to pitch the whole game and would be going back to the outfield. She hit .288, which is good for a freshman who has never played at this level before. For a kid who hadn’t caught in a while, Nancy did really well. She shut down the other teams’ running game with her throwing. She would throw a runner out or make it a close play and they wouldn’t run again. She’ll learn to drop down and get even better.”

Boehm expects the team to keep getting better collectively. “We won 11 games last year with six seniors; this year we won seven with a bunch of a new players,” said Boehm.

“I am excited looking at next year. They have to put in work over the offseason; they can’t just come out in March and start playing. They need to work on bunting, hitting, and the fundamentals. I told them they can have the key to the shed and use the equipment.”

THROWING GAS: Princeton Day School baseball player Dom ­Gasparro throws the ball in a game this spring. Sophomore third baseman Gasparro was a bright spot this spring for the Panthers as they posted a 4-12 final record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

THROWING GAS: Princeton Day School baseball player Dom ­Gasparro throws the ball in a game this spring. Sophomore third baseman Gasparro was a bright spot this spring for the Panthers as they posted a 4-12 final record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Murphy’s Law certainly applied to the Princeton Day School baseball team this spring.

Things started going wrong in the first inning of the season opener as PDS pitching ace and junior quad-captain Cole McManimon was hit by a line drive that broke his hand, knocking him out of action for more than a month.

Playing shorthanded, the Panthers struggled, going 4-12 and getting eliminated in the first round of both the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B tourney.

It was all hands on deck for PDS this spring as the shortage of manpower required versatility.

“Some days we dressed 11 and all of the kids had two or three gloves in their bags,” said Panther head coach Ray O’Brien. “Instead of getting down, the kids embraced it. Everyone got to pitch in.”

O’Brien credited his players with maintaining an upbeat attitude as they dealt with the ups and downs.

“When you are going through a difficult season, it can become unpleasant for the players and the coaches but that never happened this spring,” asserted O’Brien. “The guys stuck together and played hard, it was a good group of guys.”

Senior quad-captain Ford Schneider played a key role in holding things together.

“Ford was a great leader, he showed the younger guys how to play,” said O’Brien of the Emory-bound Schneider, who hit .356 on the season.

“He was the epitome of a captain, he set a good example. He is what we want in a PDS player. He hit the ball well and played a good center field. He did whatever we needed.”

Junior shortstop and quad-captain Jake Alu did very well this spring, leading the Panthers in hitting (.419), runs (15) and hits (26) and posting a 2.06 ERA in 20 1/3 innings of work on the mound.

“Jake was our most consistent player; he led the team in most offensive categories,” said O’Brien of the Boston College-bound Alu.

“He was terrific at shortstop. When we needed him to pitch, he did well. We wanted him to be our closer but we didn’t have many opportunities for that.”

Another junior quad-captain, Villanova recruit and first baseman James Radvany closed with a rush, posting a .364 batting average.

“JP ended up with some pretty decent numbers, he started to come on at the end,” added O’Brien. “He got a lot of walks, people pitched around him.”

The team’s quartet of freshmen, Paul Franzoni (.341 batting average), Ryan Sparks (.383 batting average), Zach Dudeck (.453 on-base percentage), and Chase Fleming (23 2/3 innings and 3.25 ERA) came on strong.

“I don’t know what we would have done without Paul Franzoni at catcher; he caught every inning and was really good defensively,” said O’Brien.

“I was surprised at how well he represented himself at the plate, he hit above .300. He will come back bigger and stronger, I am excited to have him for the next three years. Ryan Sparks played first, outfield, and was a left-handed pitcher for us. He did all of that well and he hit well. I think he was our second or third top hitter. Dudeck played really well in the outfield; he ended up with a pretty good on-base percentage. Chase Fleming led us in innings pitched and appearances. He can find the strike zone; he is your typical crafty lefty.”

PDS also got good play from sophomores Dom Gasparro (.300 batting average) and Sam Guarino (.275 batting average). “Dom had a pretty good season, he really came on at the end of the year,” said O’Brien. “Sam really looked good at times, we just need him to be more consistent.”

In O’Brien’s view, enduring this spring’s rocky ride should help the Panthers be more consistent in the future.

“We lost a lot of close games, I think we had four one-run games; we were competitive the whole year and I think that is a good sign,” said O’Brien.

“We were playing so many young guys, to be in those games and be close will help us. We need to learn how to win those games. Having Cole back next year will make a big difference. All three of the big juniors will be captains and I think they will pick up where Ford left off.”

STANDING TALL: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, right, establishes inside position against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus in last year’s championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Ivy Inn swept the series 2-0 and Aziz was named as Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. The league tips off its 26th season on June 11 with a triple-header at the Community Park courts.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STANDING TALL: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, right, establishes inside position against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus in last year’s championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Ivy Inn swept the series 2-0 and Aziz was named as Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. The league tips off its 26th season on June 11 with a triple-header at the Community Park courts. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The deck has been reshuffled a bit as the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League tips off its 26th season this week.

“We definitely lost some of the old standbys in Dr. Palmer, PA Blue Devils, and Clear View,” said league commissioner and Rec Department Assistant Director Evan Moorhead.

“They couldn’t get enough players to commit. Some years we lose one or two teams but that is three pretty strong teams to lose.”

The league does boast the return of a pair of kings in defending champ Ivy Inn and Winberie’s, the 2012 titleists.

“Ivy Inn has the same group and I anticipate they will be in the mix for a championship,” said Moorhead.

“They have Bobby Davison, Mark Aziz, and Shahid Abdul-Karim. Shem Brittingham is back. They also have Lior Levy, Davon Holman, Kevin Tarca, and they have picked up Greg Ford. They should be a really strong team.”

Winberie’s has fortified itself for a title run. “Kurt Simmons has taken the reins from Mark Rosenthal; he knows the league and he knows the guys,” said Moorhead.

“They have picked up Jesse Krasna from the Blue Devils and Paul Johnson who played at Rider. They also got Terrance Bailey from Dr. Palmer. They have Chris Hatchell back along with Chris Edwards and Cliff Pollard. They may be the strongest challenger to dethrone the champions.”

Last summer’s wildcard, the entry comprised of current players from The College of New Jersey squad, which made it to the 2013 championship series, figures to again be a contender.

“The TCNJ team had a great run; it is not often that a team comes into the league and makes a championship run in its first year,” said Moorhead of the squad which is known as Tortuga’s Mexican Village this season after being sponsored by Sneakers Plus last summer.

“With Skye Ettin and Bobby Brackett, they will be tough. I think they have a lot of their guards coming back.”

There will be a strong Princeton High presence with the Princeton Youth Sports entry that contains current PHS players and the Northeast Realty squad, which includes a number of former Little Tiger standouts.

“PYS is back, they take their lumps but they are not in it for the wins and losses, they are looking to get the experience,” said Moorhead.

“Northeast is mostly PHS alums with guys like Ben Harrison, Ian Finnen, Fernando Silva, Davon Black, and Javon Pannell. They should be good and have a nice local following.”

The league’s new entries, which include Princeton Pi/Sketch Yogurt, Princeton Interventional Cardiology, King’s Pizzarama, and Belle Mead Physical Therapy, feature an intriguing mix of performers.

“The Princeton Pi/Sketch Yogurt team has some recognizable guys in graduating PHS players Cal O’Meara, Peter Mahotiere, Matt Donahue, and Paul Murray,” added Moorhead.

“They also have four Hightstown kids and some West Windsor and Ewing kids. They are going to be young but they should be an interesting team. Princeton Intervention has some guys from Raritan Valley Community College, I expect them to be competitive. King’s has Ryan Johnson, a Ewing kid, and Kenny Holzhammer, a former Princeton Day School player. Belle Meade is led by Matt Johnston, who is a Hillsborough guy. Most of the players are from that area.”

With the league opening action with a triple-header at the Community Park courts on June 11, starting at 7:15 p.m., the anticipation is building.

“We have been trying to generate some buzz on Twitter because the season sneaks up on a lot of people,” said Moorhead.

“I think when we get some more consistent warm weather, a bunch of days in the 80s, people will get in summer hoops mode.”

Moorhead is confident things will heat up at Community Park as the summer  unfolds.

“The first 25 years of the league have been great, I am excited to see what the 26th year brings,” said Moorhead.

“There were years when we had NCAA certification and there were a lot of D-I players. There was more talent but I think the league should be as competitive as ever.”

June 4, 2014
WILL TO SUCCEED: Princeton University men’s heavyweight rower Will Gillis (wearing visor) pulls hard for the Tiger men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew in action this spring. Last Sunday, senior captain Gillis culminated his college career on a high note as he helped Princeton’s top boat take fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

WILL TO SUCCEED: Princeton University men’s heavyweight rower Will Gillis (wearing visor) pulls hard for the Tiger men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew in action this spring. Last Sunday, senior captain Gillis culminated his college career on a high note as he helped Princeton’s top boat take fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

In taking the reins as the captain of the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew this past fall, Will Gillis was determined to be there for the program’s younger rowers, on and off the water.

“I wanted to make myself available to the underclassmen; I have a wealth of experience academically and athletically as does the whole senior class and I wanted them to tap into it,” said Gillis, a native of Seattle, Wash. who helped the U.S. men’s 4- take third last summer at the U-23 World Championships in Linz, Austria.

“I think compared to my junior year, lots of underclassmen took the opportunity to talk to me about what they should major in and classes they should take. I have been helping them navigate the academics.”

Last weekend, Gillis helped the Princeton varsity 8 boat take a major step forward on the water as it placed fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.

Gillis had the sense that the Tiger 8 would emerge as one of the elite boats in the country.

“I always knew we had the guys and horsepower to be a very good boat,” said Gillis.

“We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the mix and it was a matter of taking the talent we have and doing the hard work.”

There were some hard moments this spring as Princeton fell to Harvard and Yale in April competition.

“We raced a number of the top boats in the country in Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, and Navy,” said Gillis.

“The fun part about the college regular season is that it allows for some ups and downs.”

Ending the regular season with a victory over Brown on May 3 had the Tigers on an upswing going into the postseason.

“We harnessed some things in practice and had a big win over Brown,” said Gillis of the triumph which saw Princeton clock a time of 5:31.9 to post 4.4 second win over the Bears and earn the Content Cup. “But it was in the week of practice before Brown that we had a boost.”

Turning those practice habits into more success, the varsity 8 broke through with a third place finish at the Eastern Sprints in mid-May, moving to medal stand after placing fourth the previous two years.

“It’s always big; I told all the guys after the race you only get one opportunity to do this a season,” said Gillis, reflecting on the crew’s bronze medal performance in which it posted a time of 5:32.411 on the 2,000-meter course at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. with champion Harvard coming in at 5:27.277 and Brown next in 5:28.998.

“It was big to step onto a place on the medal dock, there are not many spots. We left the race thinking that we wanted more for the boat and the program. The boat and the team is on the verge of becoming a strong force in the league.”

Princeton head coach Greg Hughes credits Gillis with being a major force behind the progress the program has shown over the last few years as it rose to fourth in the IRAs.

“Will is one of those guys who is great in and out of the boat,” said Hughes, whose varsity 8 came in at 5:43.715 to take third in the IRA regatta with Washington first in 5:37.113, Brown second in 5:39.626, and California third in 5:42.063.

“He leads by example, through the way he handles things in school and still performs on the water. He steps up in big situations. The experience he has had in that boat and in the summer time, racing for the U-23 team against tough competition and getting a medal, showed up in the tenacity of that boat over the weekend.”

Gillis, for his part, has made sure to savor his final weeks in a Princeton boat.

“After the Sprints, when I crossed the finish line, it hit me that this was over and that I would never be racing here again,” said Gillis, a politics major with a certificate in American Studies who graduated Tuesday and is going on to teach U.S. history to 11th graders at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School which provides a college prep program for low income students.

“I talked to Greg and he said it is amazing how your perspective changes from 10 minutes before the race to 10 minutes after. I was thinking today, I will have to clean out my locker. In other years, it was I’ll be back. I am really enjoying the boat and the guys; they have made the experience amazing.”

SECOND WIND: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight second varsity 8 crew churns up Lake Carnegie in competition this spring. Last Sunday, the Tiger second varsity took second in their grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta held on Mercer Lake.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

SECOND WIND: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight second varsity 8 crew churns up Lake Carnegie in competition this spring. Last Sunday, the Tiger second varsity took second in their grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta held on Mercer Lake. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

With the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta being held at nearby Mercer Lake, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew was looking to feed on its supporters.

“We were excited to be racing close to home,” said Princeton head coach Greg Hughes.

“It was reunion week so there were a lot of alums who would be back. It was pretty remarkable to see them; it was neat for me as a coach and it was great for the guys.”

The Tiger varsity 8 provided the Princeton fans with some exciting moments as it produced superb efforts in the opening heat on Friday and semifinals on Saturday and then placing fourth in the grand final on Sunday.

“The plan was take things one day at a time; we knew we needed to have three great races to do what we wanted to do,” said Hughes, whose top boat placed first in its opening heat and second in the semifinals.

“We started off with a heat against Brown. We were executing things we had been working on in the down time since Eastern Sprints; that gave us a boost for the whole weekend. On Saturday, the race was just fun to watch. We were aggressive in pretty tough conditions, there was a crosswind and it was choppy at times. It was fun to get out in front in a race like that. Sometimes we are too cautious, worrying about making the finals.”

In the grand final, Princeton battled hard as it missed third place by less than two seconds.

“We carried that into the final on Sunday,” added Hughes, whose top boat clocked a time of 5:43.715 with Washington first in 5:37.113, Brown second in 5:39.626, and California third in 5:42.063.

“It was  apparent that there were 6-8 really good boats and it would come down to who had the best piece on the day. There was no question that Washington stepped up, I was even more impressed with Brown; they raced beyond themselves and that’s what you have to do. That was our best piece of the year. We were in front of Harvard for the first time in years, that was a big step for us. We have six guys returning on that boat and they have a sense of what it takes to go to the IRAs and compete.”

The second varsity 8 provided the best moment of the weekend as it placed second in the grand final, clocking a time of 5:45.133, trailing only Cal which came in at 5:42.880.

“That was the race of the year for our program, the credit goes to Spencer [Washburn] because he worked hard with that crew,” said Hughes referring to trusted assistant Washburn, who is leaving the program to become the head crew coach at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.

“They brought an emotional intensity to that race. That was the culmination of a lot of hard work and spirit. They took control of the race and made everyone race to their standards. They beat Northeastern, who had beaten them at the Sprints. They beat Washington, a boat that hadn’t lost a race at the IRAs for the last four or five years.”

Over the last few seasons, the heavyweight program has raised its standards.

“The results we saw at the IRA speak to the progress of the year,” said Hughes, whose third varsity 8 took sixth and varsity 4 placed 12th.

“The team has changed its culture. It has developed a stronger work ethic and character. It has taken a lot of hard work and we are starting to see the result of that. Spencer and I played a part but the lion’s share of the credit has to go to the senior class; they had places where they wanted to see the team go to. They stayed true to that through some ups and downs. They were remarkable and they are going to be missed. They are leaving a legacy.”

In order to live up to that legacy, the returning rowers will have to keep going hard.

“We can’t take things for granted,” said Hughes. “The senior class has shown us that it is possible and we are good enough if we do the work.”

TAKING THE FIFTH: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 heads up Lake Carnegie in a race this spring. Last Sunday, the Tigers placed fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

TAKING THE FIFTH: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 heads up Lake Carnegie in a race this spring. Last Sunday, the Tigers placed fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

If one takes the glass half-empty approach, the fifth-place performance by the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last Sunday was distressing.

The Tigers fell off the pace by the 1,000-meter mark and posted a time of 5:55.362 on the 2,000-meter course on Mercer Lake, nearly eight seconds behind the winning time of 5:47.921 posted by national champion Cornell.

“Rowing is a momentum sport; it is important to feel someone next to you,” said Princeton head coach Marty Crotty.

“Once you lose contact with the lead pack; it is really hard to feel that you are competitive. You are scrambling to hang on to the lead pack, showing desperation.”

But Crotty adopts a glass half-full perspective on the spring, refusing to let the season be defined by the last race.

“The season was good if you look at it as a process to work our way back to the top,” said Crotty, noting that the varsity 8 posted a victory at the Head of the the Charles in October and won the Harvard-Yale-Princeton regatta this spring and then took third at the Eastern Sprints.

“We had higher highs. We won at Head of Charles in the fall and that was a direct result of staying in shape over last summer; we only have 15-20 practices before that. By sweeping at H-Y-P and winning the Vogel Cup, we accomplished something that has been a nemesis for us. Harvard and Yale are tough programs. It was a great day and the last day that we had everyone healthy this year. At sprints we showed resiliency. We had some injuries and we had to do some reshuffling.”

With nearly the whole team returning next year, Crotty believes the Tigers have the potential for greatness.

“We have everyone back but three rowers and we have a couple of rowers who are coming back after taking a year off,” said Crotty.

“We have a strong freshman class coming in. I think the returning guys can learn things from the high highs. We showed that when we are healthy and clicking on all cylinders and put our best forward, we can do some good things.”

SILVER LINING: The Princeton University women’s open second varsity 8 crew heads back to the dock with bronze medals draped around their necks after taking third in the Ivy Championships. Last Sunday, the boat took a step up and earned a silver medal as it placed second in its grand final at the NCAA Rowing Championships held on the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. The Tigers finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

SILVER LINING: The Princeton University women’s open second varsity 8 crew heads back to the dock with bronze medals draped around their necks after taking third in the Ivy Championships. Last Sunday, the boat took a step up and earned a silver medal as it placed second in its grand final at the NCAA Rowing Championships held on the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. The Tigers finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Moments after the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 crossed the finish line in the semifinal at the NCAA Championships last Saturday, the boat members realized they had missed making the grand final by an eyelash.

Some of the rowers slumped forward in the boat in disbelief while others buried their heads in their hands as they sat on a corner of the 2,000-meter race course at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind.

Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny acknowledged that her Ivy champion 8 was heartbroken by the result.

“There were some people moving in the third 500 meters but we knew that would happen,” said Dauphiny, whose boat finished fourth in 6:30.54, with Michigan taking third place and a spot in the finals by .23 in a time of 6:30.31.

“What was really hard was going into the last 500, having led the race and then having boats moving. It was so tight. Brown and Stanford got the upper hand, they had a half a seat. Our coxswain was looking at the Michigan cox; they were level. It was really tough, it was a punch in the gut. No one wants to get aced out in the semis for a spot in the finals but it was by a whisker and so you start thinking about what you could have done differently.”

A day later, another Princeton crew, the second varsity 8 had an entirely different reaction after they placed second in their grand final. The rowers raised their arms in exultation and hugged across the boat.

“They really felt like they were getting stronger,” said Dauphiny, referring to her second 8 which posted a time of 7:02.03, trailing only Ohio State, which came in at 6:59.43.

“They fell short at the Ivies and it was great to get some redemption. They were very eager to get another chance. They handled it with maturity and seemed to get more and more confident over the weekend.”

The varying reactions of the crews reflects Princeton’s fortunes this spring. “We had some ups and downs,” said Dauphiny, whose program finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta. “It feels good when the kids finish up and feel they did the best they could. It was a season of development.”

The varsity 8 went out on Sunday and finished up in style, winning the ‘B’ final to place seventh in the nation.

“I thought it was a show of character, heart, and integrity,” asserted Dauphiny, whose top boat clocked a time of 6:51.80 in winning the race. “I was so proud of them, they felt like they redeemed themselves a bit.”

Dauphiny was certainly proud of her second varsity as they earned Princeton’s highest finish in the NCAA regatta in that classification since 1997.

“We wanted to capitalize on some of the things we had done in the semis; we wanted to have a sprint,” said Dauphiny of the boat.

“The 2V hung together from the beginning of the season to the end. It was good having the presence of two seniors, Kathryn Irwin and Maggie Cochrane, in the boat.”

The Princeton varsity 4 hung in there, taking fifth in its ‘B’ final to place 11th overall.

“It was a learning experience and extremely valuable for the depth of the program,” said Dauphiny, noting that the boat added a rower for the NCAAs who hadn’t competed since opening day due to injury.

“They handled adversity and they did their best to deal with it and move forward. They ran out of time; there was a lot of great competition out there and some really fast boats.”

Over the course of the spring, the Tigers displayed a great competitive spirit.

“The senior class did a nice job of making an impact,” said Dauphiny. “There are a number of people coming back and I am excited about that. I want them to learn lessons about being resilient and dealing with adversity.”

Princeton University seniors Lisa Boyce, Michelle Cesan, Julia Reinprecht, Susannah Scanlan, and Kelly Shon were named last week as winners of the 2014 C. Otto von Kienbusch Award.

The C. Otto von Kienbusch Award is the highest senior female student-athlete award at Princeton. C. Otto von Kienbusch was a staunch opponent of the addition of women to Princeton University in the late ’60s. Once women were admitted to the school, several early women athletes made a trip to his home in upstate New York to try to win him over. They were so successful that he became a major supporter of women’s athletics at Princeton and endowed this award.

Swimming star Boyce, an English major from Champaign, Ill., led Princeton to a pair of Ivy League team championships in swimming and diving, and she did so while winning nine individual Ivy crowns.

She holds four program records, and she was named the Ivy League Championships Career High Point Scorer at the 2014 league meet.

While her Ivy titles came in the 50 freestyle, 100 free and the 100 backstroke, her most historic swim at Princeton came in the 100 butterfly, when she finished seventh in the 2014 NCAA Championship meet. In so doing, Boyce became Princeton’s first first-team All-America since Alicia Aemisegger.

Field hockey standout Cesan, a politics major from New Vernon, New Jersey, is one of the greatest scorers in the history of Princeton field hockey.

A four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, she ranks sixth all-time at Princeton in goals scored with 34 and is tied for sixth all time in points with 92.

Cesan was a four-time All-America, including a first-team All-America selection this past fall, after she led Princeton in scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists for 30 points. She was a four-time first-team All-Region selection, and she was the 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.

One of the key members of Princeton’s 2012 NCAA championship team, she has also been active with the United States national team program.

Another field hockey standout, Reinprecht, a politics major native from North Wales, Pa., was a four-time All-America and four-time All-Region selection, as well as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time first-team All-Ivy pick.

She was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a second-team All-America as a freshman, and she was a second-team All-America again as a sophomore before being a two-time first-team All-America to finish her career. She also was on the 2012 NCAA tournament all-tournament team as Princeton won the NCAA championship.

Reinprecht was also a member of the United States Olympic field hockey team, and she was a starter at the 2012 Summer Games in London. She is currently in the Netherlands competing with the U.S. team at the field hockey World Cup.

Fencer Scanlan, an economics major from Minneapolis, Minn., earned a bronze medal with the United States epee squad at the 2012 London Olympics for the first medal in women’s team epee in U.S. Olympic history.

She helped Princeton to the NCAA team championship in 2013. Her career has taken place over six years, allowing for time off to prepare for the Olympics, and during that stretch Princeton’s team finish at the NCAA finals rose from eighth in her freshman year of 2009 to the team title in 2013 and a runner-up finish this past year.

Individually, Scanlan, a first-team All-Ivy League honoree in each of her first two seasons, has been a four-time All-America, only the second Princeton women’s epeeist to achieve that and first in 12 years. She advanced to the medal competition twice at the NCAA Championships, first with a runner-up finish last year and then with a third-place finish this year.

Golf star Shon, a sociology major from Port Washington, New York, is a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year after winning the honor the past two seasons. A four-time All-Ivy League honoree, including three first-team honors, she is one of just two Tigers and seven players in league history to earn All-Ivy League recognition four times since the Ivy began sponsoring women’s golf in 1997.

Making program history at the NCAA level as well, Shon was selected to three NCAA East Regionals as an individual and is one of only three Tigers to play in NCAA events in three seasons. Last year, she became one of just two players in program history to qualify for the NCAA Championship, doing so by finishing as runner-up, the highest finish in program history, at the 2013 East Regional. Her finish and her score to par were both the best in an NCAA final in program history.

ON THE HOP: Princeton University men’s track star Tom Hopkins flies through the air in a long jump competition this spring. Last week, senior Hopkins was named as one of the 2014 recipients of Princeton’s William Winston Roper Trophy along with classmates Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber.(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

ON THE HOP: Princeton University men’s track star Tom Hopkins flies through the air in a long jump competition this spring. Last week, senior Hopkins was named as one of the 2014 recipients of Princeton’s William Winston Roper Trophy along with classmates Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Princeton University seniors Tom Hopkins, Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber were named last week as the 2014 recipients of the William Winston Roper Trophy.

The award was originally given by Mrs. William Winston Roper and the Class of 1902 in honor of Princeton’s famed football coach. It goes annually to “a Princeton senior male of high scholastic rank and outstanding qualities of sportsmanship and general proficiency in athletics.” It has been awarded annually since 1936.

Track star Hopkins, a politics major from Haverford, Pa., is a multi-talented athlete who competed in the sprints, relays, and long jumps. He competed in two NCAA championships, earned two All-America honors, and qualified for the NCAA East Regional in each of his four years. He was part of a quartet that earned a Penn Relays win in the distance medley relay in 2012.

Hopkins was a six-time Ivy League Heptagonal indoor champion in events including 400, 500, long jump, and 4×400. Outdoor he won six titles in the 400, long jump and 4×400. Incredibly, he ends his career with 25 first- or second-place Heps finishes.

Baseball standout Keller, a politics major from Richmond, Virginia, became the second Princeton player ever to be named Ivy League Player of the Year when he earned the award this past season.

He is also the first three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection for Princeton since Ivy League baseball began in 1993 and the third three-time all-league selection in program history, after two others did so in the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League.

Keller led Princeton this season with a .327 batting average and four triples, and he was second in RBIs, home runs, and doubles. His .545 slugging percentage was third in the league. For his career, he had a .336 batting average.

Track star McLean, a chemistry major from St. Catherine’s, Jamaica, is a two-time All-America in the triple jump and just the second athlete in Heps history — and first since 1975 — to win four straight triple jump titles. McLean also won the outdoor triple jump three times and was the runner-up as a freshman. He won the Heps Most Outstanding Field Performer at the 2013 Indoor Heps after sweeping the triple and long jumps and was named the Regional Field Athlete of the Year that same season.

He posted a personal best and school record this April with a mark of 16.11 meters. At the time that was the second-best jump in the nation. He will be competing later this month at the NCAA Championships for the third time.

Football standout Reid, a sociology major from The Bronx, N.Y., put together one of the most stellar careers in Princeton football history. The defensive lineman earned First-Team All-America honors this season and was the second Tiger ever to be invited to the prestigious Senior Bowl. His dominance resulted in Reid being chosen by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the NFL Draft last month, the highest for a Princeton football player in the modern draft era.

A two-time team captain, Reid’s leadership during the past season helped lead the Tigers to a championship campaign. After enduring back-to-back 1-9 seasons early in his career, Reid helped push Princeton to an 8-2 record in 2013 and a share of the league title.

Legendary lacrosse player Schreiber, a history major from East Meadow, New York, is one of the best midfielders in Princeton lacrosse history and one of the greatest ever to play Division I lacrosse. A three-time first-team All-America, he is also one of two two-time winners of the Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Award given to the nation’s top midfielder, an award first given in 1973 and whose first recipient was his father Doug a Hall of Fame lax player for the University of Maryland.

Schreiber is one of two Princeton players ever to be a four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, and he was the No. 1 selection of the Major League Lacrosse draft by the Ohio Machine.

He ranks fifth all-time in scoring at Princeton with 200 points on 106 goals and 94 assists and is the only player in program history and one of only five in Ivy League history — and the only Ivy midfielder — with at least 100 goals and at least 90 assists, as well as the only player to rank in the top 10 in program history in both goals and assists and the school-record holder for goals, assists and points by a midfielder.

Schreiber won the Senior Class Award this year for outstanding achievement in the areas of competition, the classroom, the community and character. He is also a two-time finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy, the highest honor in college lacrosse.

CLOSING LINE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Emilia Lopez-Ona heads to goal in action this spring. Senior and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona ended her career with a goal and an assist as PHS fell 17-5 to Moorestown last Thursday in the state Group III South sectional final. Lopez-Ona closed out her career with more than 300 goals and tallied 120 points this season on 89 goals and 31 assists.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CLOSING LINE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Emilia Lopez-Ona heads to goal in action this spring. Senior and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona ended her career with a goal and an assist as PHS fell 17-5 to Moorestown last Thursday in the state Group III South sectional final. Lopez-Ona closed out her career with more than 300 goals and tallied 120 points this season on 89 goals and 31 assists. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It would have been understandable if the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team brought a sense of dread into its state Group III South sectional final matchup at perennial power Moorestown High last Thursday.

After all, Moorestown entered the game with a 22-0 record, riding a 73-game winning streak, ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and in the top 5 nationally.

But PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman saw the clash with the high-powered Quakers as a reward.

“It was a great opportunity for us,” said O’Gorman. “You know that if you are going up against Moorestown in the states that you are having a great season. We wanted to at least reach the same game that we reached last year and we made it to the sectional final again. We were excited to take them on and see that level of lacrosse.”

While Moorestown showed that it was at a higher level than PHS as it posted a 17-5 win, O’Gorman had no qualms with her team’s performance.

“We were excited to show our talent and I think we did,” said O’Gorman, who got three goals from Gabby Gibbon in the defeat with Emilia Lopez-Ona adding a goal and an assist with Allie Callaway chipping in a goal. “We didn’t slow down and we played to the end.”

With a final record of 17-4, the Little Tigers showed a lot this spring. “I couldn’t be happier with the way the girls played and conducted themselves,” said O’Gorman.

“They were a well rounded team and a class act. They followed the lessons I tried to instill and they gave 100 percent all of the time and you can’t ask for more than that. We finished strong, we were a force to be reckoned with.”

One of PHS’s strongest efforts this spring came against Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals as the Little Tigers avenged a 15-10 regular season loss to the Irish.

“The win over Notre Dame in the county semis was a highlight,” recalled O’Gorman of the 19-9 triumph over the Irish.

“The girls played some great lacrosse, there were very few errors. To take such a lead on a team that had beaten us early in the season and then to hold them off when they made a run was great.”

O’Gorman credited the team’s seniors with sparking its run to the MCT and sectional title games.

“The seniors were awesome, all eight of them,” asserted O’Gorman of the program’s Class of 2014 which included Emilia Lopez-Ona, Dana Smith, Liz Jacobs, Emily Young, Krysta Holman, Stephanie Hauer, Kristi DeMilt, and Taylor Chiang.

“They were very mature. They took the underclassmen under their wings. The reason we went so far this year was due to their maturity. It is going to be hard to replace these seniors. They have made an impact on the program and the coaches.”

Penn-bound Lopez-Ona made an indelible impact on the program. “Emilia fought with all of her heart and soul,” said O’Gorman of Lopez-Ona who passed the 300-goal mark in her career in May and totaled 120 points this season on 89 goals and 31 assists.

“She lives and breathes lacrosse. She has enhanced her game over time; she has the determination to go out and practice hour after hour.”

The Little Tigers got determined play across the board from its senior group.

“Dana Smith (15 goals, 20 assists, and 81 ground balls inn 2014) had such fight, showed great fight on the ground balls,” said O’Gorman.

“Liz Jacobs (53 goals, 9 assists) has more power than any high school player I have ever seen. Taylor was such a versatile player. Steph Hauer (1 goal, 21 ground balls) and Kristi DeMilt (2 goals, 16 ground balls) knew how to keep the defense tight. This was one of the best defensive teams we have had. There were a lot of games where the defense was the MVP.”

With a solid core of returners, including juniors Gabby Gibbons (64 goals, 25 assists, 24 ground balls), Oona Ryle (8 goals, 1 assist, 37 ground balls), and Mira Shane (160 saves at goalie) along with sophomores Allie Callaway (23 goals, 1 assist) and Julia Ryan (13 goals, 8 assists, 28 ground balls), the Little Tigers figure to keep piling up the wins.

“We have a lot of great players coming back,” said O’Gorman. “Gabby and Allie work well together, they have big shoes to fill on offense. Ryle and Lis will go on our face-off unit. Mira is our backbone, she is great at communicating and directing our defense.”

PHS will need to keep showing backbone in the future to build on the success it experienced this spring.

“I think that they know that there are going to be challenges along the way and with hard work they can be really successful,” said O’Gorman, referring to her returning players.

“We didn’t let the early losses to North (WW/P-N) and Notre Dame set the tone. We knew we had a lot to offer. We brought it up to a new level for Princeton lacrosse.”

CREASE CONTROL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse goalie Harlyn Bell makes a save in recent action. Junior star Bell was the backbone of the Stuart defense this spring as the Tartans posted an 8-6 record. Stuart ended the season with four straight wins in producing the program’s first winning campaign in seven years.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CREASE CONTROL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse goalie Harlyn Bell makes a save in recent action. Junior star Bell was the backbone of the Stuart defense this spring as the Tartans posted an 8-6 record. Stuart ended the season with four straight wins in producing the program’s first winning campaign in seven years. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team, its season-ending win over Hamilton exemplified the program’s improvement this spring.

Displaying skill and poise, Stuart prevailed 15-11 to end the season on a four-game winning streak and post a final record of 8-6.

“We lost to Hamilton last year and we knew it would be a tough game,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant.

“We have a different team this year. We fought the whole time. It was close. We never said we had it. We had to hold on to the ball in the last two minutes.”

A key factor that helped the Tartans hold off the Hornets in the May 15 contest was scoring balance.

“I loved the fact that a freshman, Mary O’Boyle, who just started playing this year, scored the first goal for us,” said Grant.

“The goals were spread out. Julia [Maser] had seven, Amy [Hallowell] had three. Tori [Hannah] had two and the freshmen had three.”

The team’s trio of seniors, Hallowell, Meghan Shannon, and Victoria Orellana, saved their best for last, coming with big efforts in the win over Hamilton.

“Amy really stepped up; she wanted to make it worth it for her last game,” said Grant.

“She went after every single ball and didn’t drop one pass. She left it all on the field. Meghan was talking and sliding on defense. She was looking to help people, she was really in the defensive mindset. Vicky made an impact. She fought to the restraining line and really played hard.”

The team’s hard work helped it make a bigger impact in local lacrosse circles.

“We went from three wins to eight wins, it was our first winning season in seven years,” said Grant.

“Last year we struggled, we were so young. We had a lot of freshmen playing. We didn’t have the game sense that you need on the varsity level. The teams in the area are very competitive.”

The one-two punch of sophomores Maser and Hannah impacted many games.

“Julia started stepping up at the end of last season; she was much more confident this season,” asserted Grant.

“She and Tori know how to run a two-person play and can score 90 percent of the time. They are confident at holding the ball when we need to do that. Tori’s shot is really on point.”

The squad’s three seniors kept the Tartans on point all spring long. “What I am most grateful for is how they were role models and leaders for the girls,” said Grant.

“They would take girls to the side and help them learn to catch, things like that. They are always positive. When I would come down hard on the team, they would bring the players back up.”

Looking ahead, Grant is confident that Stuart can keep on the upswing.

“The goalie, Harlyn Bell, will be a senior and she is going to be captain,” added Grant.

“She is good at keeping the team together. Most of the returning players will be sophomores and juniors and I am really excited about them.”

May 28, 2014
LIONHEARTED: Caraun Reid gets pumped up during his career with the Princeton University football team. Star defensive lineman Reid, who will be graduating from Princeton next week, was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LIONHEARTED: Caraun Reid gets pumped up during his career with the Princeton University football team. Star defensive lineman Reid, who will be graduating from Princeton next week, was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Caraun Reid will be among the more than 1,000 graduating seniors congregating next Tuesday in front of Nassau Hall for Princeton University’s 267th commencement ceremony.

While many of the graduates will be wondering what awaits them in the real world, Reid has already gotten a taste of his life after Princeton.

The star defensive lineman was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football.

For Reid, his destiny started to come into focus when his cell phone rang early in the fifth round.

“I have a phone that identifies area codes and when I saw Michigan, I was excited,” said Reid, who watched the final two days of the draft from his family’s home in the Bronx, N.Y.

“I never thought this would happen when I started football. I was talking to everybody, [general manager] Martin Mayhew, coach [Jim] Caldwell, and the defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin. I was just really happy, I was smiling the whole time.”

In Reid’s view, joining the Lions is a good fit. “The coaches are great and I am in a position to compete and learn from some great players like Ndamukong Suh (Detroit’s Pro Bowl defensive tackle),” said the 6’2, 305-pound Reid, who is the 14th Princeton football player to be selected in the NFL Draft and the first in the modern era (since the 1970 merger) to be selected within the first five rounds. “It is is an ideal position for me to be in.”

While Reid didn’t have much contact with the Lions before the draft, he has immersed himself into the Detroit organization, staying out in Michigan since the draft and participating in a rookie minicamp, meetings, conditioning sessions, and one round of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

“I met with them briefly at the combine but I hadn’t talked with them since,  my first time out there was last week,” said Reid, who officially signed with the Lions on May 15, entering into a four-year contract with a signing bonus of $188,880 and a total package of $2,408,880, according to the Pride of Detroit website.

“The minicamp was great. Getting into the competitive atmosphere helped me grow as a player. The rookie class is staying at the same place and we have gotten to know each other.”

Reid acknowledges that OTAs showed him how much he has to grow. “The OTAs have set the bar higher; you feel like a rookie out there,” said Reid.

“It is just the speed and being able to know where to go. The veteran guys know what is expected and the rookies don’t. You just compete as hard as you can. I just want to keep getting better and do better every rep.”

In Reid’s view, his Princeton experience gives him a better chance at succeeding in the NFL.

“I found out what I really loved, that was the biggest part of it, being able to pursue your passion,” said Reid, reflecting on his Princeton career.

“I am approaching this situation as a better man for having gone to Princeton. I think I will be more professional and have a greater maturity.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace, who spent eight years on the coaching staff of the Cincinnati Bengals, believes that Detroit presents a good professional opportunity for Reid.

“Having had to play against Jim Washburn when he was at Tennessee, I know that he is one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the NFL,” said Surace.

“He likes hard-working, high effort guys who can rush the passer. The other part that is a good fit is that they have veteran guys on the line who are first round draft picks and who are productive. It will be good for Caraun to be in the same room with those kind of guys.”

In Surace’s view, Reid has what it takes to be a productive player in the NFL.

“The scouts got to know him; he has the physical traits plus the intangibles and work ethic,” added Surace of Reid, a 2012 and 2013 All-America and three-time first-team All-Ivy League honoree who had 20.5 sacks and 168 tackles in his career as he helped the Tigers rise from the cellar to a share of the 2013 league title. “There is a reason he went in the highest draft round of any player in Princeton history.”

Reid’s selection is another feather in the cap for a program that saw star defensive lineman Mike Catapano get chosen in the seventh-round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and emerge as a special teams starter and rotation player for KC.

“I am so excited for Caraun; this is his dream and the career path he wants,” said Surace.

“It shows that we are developing guys in the right way. Our strength coach, Jason Gallucci, is doing as good a job as he can having the guys for one-and-a half to two hours. The coaches watch film and prepare; it shouldn’t be any different than Florida State. These are things we can do well and it doesn’t matter if you are D-III or Ivy League. The players have a heavy academic load but they value football too.”

Reid, for his part, is ready to do things the right way for the Lions and let the chips fall where they may this fall.

“I just want to be the best I can be,” said Reid. “I don’t know what is going to happen in training camp or in the season but as long as I am doing my best, that is the main thing.”

REEL DEAL: Kelsey Reelick, center, rows from the stroke seat this spring in action for the  Princeton University women’s open varsity 8. Senior star Reelick and the Tigers will be competing in the NCAA championships at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Reelick will be looking to come full circle as she helped the Tigers to a title in the NCAA varsity 8 as a freshman.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

REEL DEAL: Kelsey Reelick, center, rows from the stroke seat this spring in action for the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8. Senior star Reelick and the Tigers will be competing in the NCAA championships at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Reelick will be looking to come full circle as she helped the Tigers to a title in the NCAA varsity 8 as a freshman. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Kelsey Reelick started this spring in the back of the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8, rowing from the bow seat.

But after an opening day loss to Brown, senior star Reelick was moved up to the front of the boat, getting switched to stroke.

“I had never stroked an 8 before; I had trialed there and had done it in practice,” said Reelick, who made her debut in a loss to Virginia on April 5.

“In the Virginia race, I turned to Annie [coxswain Annie Prasad] and said this is my first race at stroke. Every seat is important for different reasons. The bow is more zen; you are in the back and responsible for setting the boat straight. You are separated and not near the yelling. Stroke is more excitable; you are looking at the cox and there are seven girls behind you.”

With Reelick developing a comfort level in her new spot, Princeton righted the ship, going undefeated after the Virginia race and then avenged the Brown defeat in the Ivy championship as the Tigers took the varsity 8 title with a course record performance.

This week, Princeton will look to keep rolling as it competes in the NCAA championships at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.

As Reelick looks forward to her final college competition, she acknowledges that the boat was steeled by its early struggles.

The first two weeks were rough; it made us more determined,” said Reelick. “Winning is fantastic but losing creates more of a change. We had some changes to make.”

During her rowing career, Reelick has proved that she can deal well with change. After taking up sculling as a teenager in New Zealand, Reelick and her family came back to the U.S. and relocated to Connecticut. As a senior in high school, Reelick went from the GMS Rowing Center to the Connecticut Boat Club (CBC), helping the CBC take first in the USRowing youth nationals in both the women’s 2- and women’s 8+.

“I had never done sweep rowing before; we had a good 2 that was speedy and we had a great 8,” said Reelick. “It was an amazing boat, a boat of superstars.”

A year later, Reelick competed on another amazing boat as she joined the Princeton open program and made a varsity 8 that went undefeated on the way to winning the Eastern Sprints and NCAA titles.

“It was tough,” said Reelick, reflecting on her transition to college rowing. “I do remember that there was a point where I stopped and looked around at the others; we had a big senior class that year and I thought they are just going hard all of the time. The intensity level is accelerated at the college level. I realized that I had to go harder everyday.”

Reelick realizes how lucky she was to be a part of back-to-back championship campaigns.

“I had an undefeated season in my senior year in high school and then as a freshman in college and I thought this is how it goes,” said Reelick.

“We won Easterns, we won NCAAs, and then we went to the Royal Henley. It was a massive year of rowing. It was amazing.”

After a rebuilding year in her sophomore season, Princeton got back on the medal stand last spring, winning the Ivy championships and taking second in the NCAA championship race. A more important development for Reelick in her junior year, was the arrival of her younger sister, Erin, who joined the Tiger program.

“It has been fantastic; we rowed together in my senior year in high school,” said Reelick of her younger sister, who rows on the No. 6 seat for the Princeton varsity 8.

“She was on the CBC 8, that was her first year of rowing. I love having Erin in the boat, she is a fierce competitor. She is also one of my best friends. It is great to have someone in the boathouse and on campus that I can rely on.”

Reelick and her boatmates were primed to compete hard this spring. “We knew there was something to be gained from the loss of 2013,” said Reelick.

“We jumped into the winter with some goals in mind. We had some good Erg (ergometer) scores and were looking to carry that conditioning on to the water.”

In going after its goals this spring, the boat has displayed an ability to learn from its mistakes.

“After each race, we would talk about what we did well and what we would need to build on,” said Reelick.

“Each week we would fix what we did wrong. I have never been on an 8 that has improved so much.”

That improvement was clearly evident at the Ivy regatta on the Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. as Princeton got off to fast start in the final and never looked back on the way to victory, clocking a time of 6:15.412 to a set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue.

“It was awesome,” said Reelick. “Going into the race, we knew it was going to be hard. We had pent-up nervous energy and right off the start we were locked into each other. It was interesting to set the record.”

Looking ahead to the NCAAs, Reelick believes Princeton has room for growth. “I think we can go faster; we have some things to work on,” said Reelick.

“We need to work on staying internal. You need to relax and execute. We are working hard to perfect things. Lori makes sure we don’t forget what each of us can do better individually. There is one change that each of us can make to help the boat collectively.”

Reelick is hoping to come full circle, ending her career with an NCAA crown to go with the one she earned in 2011.

“One of the things I remember from the NCAAs freshman year is that I am here now; we have been waiting a year for this race,” said Reelick.

“Throughout this spring, every race has meant a lot. Winning Ivies feels great as a senior and winning a medal at nationals would feel great as a senior.”

GIFT OF GAB: Princeton High girls‘ lacrosse player Gabby ­Gibbons, left, gets by a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior star Gibbons and senior standout Emilia ­Lopez-Ona each had five goals as third-seeded PHS topped second-seeded Clearview 17-11 in the Group III South sectional semis to improve to 17-3 and book a spot in the title game on May 28 at No. 1 Moorestown (22-0).(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GIFT OF GAB: Princeton High girls‘ lacrosse player Gabby ­Gibbons, left, gets by a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior star Gibbons and senior standout Emilia ­Lopez-Ona each had five goals as third-seeded PHS topped second-seeded Clearview 17-11 in the Group III South sectional semis to improve to 17-3 and book a spot in the title game on May 28 at No. 1 Moorestown (22-0). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team trailed Kingsway 2-0 early in the Group III South sectional quarters last week, Gabby Gibbons wasn’t worried.

“I knew that we would come together, we usually do,” said PHS junior star Gibbons.

“It was a slow start but once we got going, I think we just overpowered them.”

Indeed, the third-seeded Little Tigers went on an 8-1 run that turned a 4-3 deficit into an 11-5 halftime lead over No. 6 Kingsway in the May 20 contest.

Gibbons, for her part, scored three goals in that run, including the 100th of her career.

“It was really exciting,” said Gibbons, reflecting on her milestone goals, which prompted her teammates to wave posters honoring Gibbons for her achievement.

“I couldn’t do it without my teammates obviously, they play a huge role in everything.”

Everything went well for PHS in the second half as it rolled to a 16-10 triumph.

“I like the way we ended and how everyone stepped up and contributed,” said Gibbons.

“We had a lot of our sophomores, like Allie Callaway and Julia Ryan, who really stepped up and did a good job. We had the usual contributors like Liz [Jacobs] and Emilia [Lopez-Ona].”

Two days later, the Little Tigers stepped up again, posting a 17-11 win at second-seeded Clearview in the sectional semis to book a spot in the title game on May 28 at No. 1 Moorestown.

In Gibbons’ view, strength at both ends of the field has helped make PHS a title contender.

“I think it is really good because we don’t have one person scoring all the goals,” asserted Gibbons.

“We have a bunch of people who can contribute to the offense. The defense played awesome as well, they have come together so much. Mira [Shane] is fabulous in goal.”

Gibbons has gone out of her way to contribute more all over the field.

“I have been trying to do a little bit of everything,” said Gibbons, who has committed to join the Virginia Commonwealth University women’s lacrosse program and has been playing on two club teams over the last few years to hone her skills.

“I feed a lot. I have been trying to go to goal but also ride and trying to play defense.”

PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman appreciates Gibbons’ growth as a player. “Gabby has really been a huge asset in our offense this year,” said O’Gorman,

“She is a triple threat. She is a feeder, she can dodge well and she can shoot phenomenally. She has really matured throughout the years and especially this season. She is going more on defense this year now too. She is a well rounded player.”

Another player who made history for PHS in the win over Kingsbury was senior star and Dartmouth-bound Liz Jacobs.

“Liz also had her 200th goal so it was a milestone game,” said O’Gorman. “Liz’s shot is just unstoppable; she has more power than any high school player I have seen. She is a powerhouse attacker, she is able to execute and she is able to find the open space in the net today.”

With PHS having learned from the experience of falling to Mendham in the sectional final last year, O’Gorman believes her squad, now 17-3, has what it takes to give perennial powerhouse Moorestown (22-0) a battle.

“I think each game we have shown that we can rise to the level of the other team,” said O’Gorman.

“Kingsway was a great opponent today. It just shows you the level of intensity that each team is bringing to the state tournament. It is what we expected and it is a great ride so far for Princeton.”

In Gibbons’ view, that ride could end with a sectional title. “I think we can go one step further,” said Gibbons. “I think we are really playing as a team and I think everyone is just doing terrific.”

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player ­Jackson Andres races upfield in recent action. The play of junior defender Andres was a source of strength for PHS this spring as it went 16-4. The Little Tigers ended their season last Thursday when fourth-seeded PHS fell 10-8 at top-seeded Shawnee in the  Group III South sectional semifinal.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player ­Jackson Andres races upfield in recent action. The play of junior defender Andres was a source of strength for PHS this spring as it went 16-4. The Little Tigers ended their season last Thursday when fourth-seeded PHS fell 10-8 at top-seeded Shawnee in the Group III South sectional semifinal. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After falling 10-8 at Shawnee High in the state Group III South sectional semifinals last Thursday, the players on the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team trudged disconsolately across the field to their bus.

As they neared the visiting stands, the PHS parents and supporters who made the trek to the contest gave them an ovation, prompting waves from the players and even a few smiles.

PHS head coach Peter Stanton certainly felt that his squad deserved a hand. “You look at Shawnee and the athletes they have on that team; they were South Jersey Group IV football champions, which is extremely competitive,” said Stanton.

“Their coach told me that pretty much every kid on that team plays both sports so that is a team loaded with big, fast, strong, athletic kids that are good lacrosse players. I think we gave that team everything they could handle. I think that team is really happy that they advanced today.”

Showing no fear, the fourth-seeded Little Tigers came out firing against the top-seeded Renegades, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Shawnee stormed back with six unanswered goals and then the Little Tigers made it a 6-4 on a goal by senior star Matt Purdy.

Moments later, thunder rumbled in the distance and the game was delayed. After the teams came back, Kevin Halliday scored for the Little Tigers to narrow the gap to 6-5.

There was a second delay and then the game resumed without interruption. Unaffected by the stoppages, PHS got goals from Rory Helstrom and Halliday to take a 7-6 lead with 1:17 left in the third quarter.

Shawnee reeled off four straight goals to seize momentum but the Little Tigers never stopped fighting. Purdy tallied with 1:14 left to make it 10-8 and PHS forced a turnover with 39.3 seconds left. Stanton called a timeout to set up a play but the Little Tigers were unable to find the back of the net as their season ended.

Stanton, for his part, was emotionally spent in the wake of the tough loss. “When a game like that is over, I don’t have the emotions because I am just so pumped on adrenaline from being in a battle,” said Stanton, who got four goals from Halliday in the defeat with Purdy adding two and Rory Helstrom and Joe Hawes adding one apiece.

“Tonight when I go home, it is damn, our time with these kids is over and we’ll feel a lot of sadness.”

The Little Tigers, though, have a lot to be proud of as they produced another stellar campaign.

“You look at how much courage and heart our players showed,” said Stanton, whose team ended with a final record of 16-4.

“We don’t have the numbers and we have played a really long stretch of lacrosse going back to the beginning of the Mercer County Tournament. We played Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and then played Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday in the states. We are extremely proud of what we accomplished this season to be back-to-back county champions and to advance to play a likely group champion.”

The team’s seniors certainly handled themselves like champions. “It starts with what they did in the offseason as far as preparation,” said Stanton, whose group of seniors included Adam Durner, Zeid Hashem, Patrick McCormick, Warren Santoro, Dalton Sekelsky, Matt Corrado, along with Halliday and Purdy.

“They worked in the summer, they worked in the weight room. They really mentor the younger players. They set the example of how to practice. They set the example of how to play and they set the example of how to lose. They played a great game and they are proud of themselves. I know that in 15-20 years, these guys will be close friends.”

If the team’s returning players can follow the example of the seniors, PHS should remain in the championship mix.

“You love the young kids,” said Stanton. “This is a team of overachievers. These young guys have the role models and the template of how we do it.”

FORESIGHT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Lucas Mitchell eyes the ball as he hits a forehand in recent action. Mitchell and Zach Hojelbane posted a win at first doubles as third-seeded PHS fell 3-2 to second-seeded and eventual champion Wall Township in the Group III Central Jersey sectional semifinals.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FORESIGHT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Lucas Mitchell eyes the ball as he hits a forehand in recent action. Mitchell and Zach Hojelbane posted a win at first doubles as third-seeded PHS fell 3-2 to second-seeded and eventual champion Wall Township in the Group III Central Jersey sectional semifinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton High boys’ tennis team was seeded third in the state Group III Central Jersey sectional tourney, PHS proved it was a championship caliber squad.

The Little Tigers defeated top-seeded Hopewell Valley 4-1 in a regular season match made up during the tournament and then fell 3-2 to second-seeded and eventual champion Wall Township in a sectional semi that came down to the third set of the second doubles flight.

PHS head coach Christian Herzog was proud of the way his team battled in the loss with Wall, getting wins at third singles from junior Adib Zaidi and at first doubles from the pair of senior Zach Hojelbane and sophomore Lucas Mitchell.

“It was a close match,” said Herzog. “Adib had a really big match; he muscled through some illness and beat an intimidating player. The guys with Wall play with a lot of passion, they are loud and boisterous on the court. My guys knew that going into the match. Our first doubles crushed them.”

With PHS standing at 13-3 after a 5-0 win over Steinert last Wednesday, Herzog is happy with the way his guys have played this spring.

“I think we responded well to our situation in the county tournament,” said Herzog, whose team competed at the county tournament without an injured Zaidi and still finished fourth.

“We won the matches we were expected to win. No one expects us to beat South (WW/P-S). If we had Tyler (second singles player Tyler Hack), I think we could have beaten North (WW/P-N).”

Herzog credited seniors Zack Kleiman and Hojelbane with providing the veteran guidance he expected from them.

“They were strong leaders in terms of keeping the team motivated and focused,” said Herzog.

“They were able to have a good time and some laughs and then bear down and be serious when necessary. They were class acts and good kids.”

Kleiman helped the team bear down before its match against HoVal. “Kleiman gave a heartfelt talk, explaining why that rivalry was important,” recalled Herzog.

“He talked about how it had been going back and forth the last few years and they hadn’t always given us respect. I said that I didn’t have anything to add, he said it all. We went out and beat them 4-1; I was disappointed that we didn’t win 5-0.”

With most of its starting lineup returning, PHS is in position to add to its winning tradition.

“We have five of seven coming back and Andrew Lin was a varsity swing player and competed in MCT and played five or six matches,” said Herzog.

Herzog, for his part, enjoyed getting the team to compete its hardest in his first season at the helm of the team.

“You have to have vision for the whole program,” said Herzog. “You have
to keep the varsity players consistent and help
them get through the big matches.”

HIGH INTENSITY: Cody Triolo warms up before a game this spring in his freshman season for the Lehigh University men’s lacrosse team. Former Princeton Day School standout Triolo made five appearances this spring as a reserve midfielder for the Mountain Hawks.(Photo Courtesy of Lehigh’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HIGH INTENSITY: Cody Triolo warms up before a game this spring in his freshman season for the Lehigh University men’s lacrosse team. Former Princeton Day School standout Triolo made five appearances this spring as a reserve midfielder for the Mountain Hawks. (Photo Courtesy of Lehigh’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Cody Triolo drew plenty of attention when he made his debut this spring for the Lehigh University men’s lacrosse team.

“The first time I handled the ball, Bucknell was trying to get the ball back and I was triple-teamed right away,” said Triolo, a former Princeton Day School standout and reserve freshman midfielder at Lehigh whose first appearance came in the team’s sixth game this spring. “I was able to get out of it.”

While Triolo ended up getting in five games over the course of the spring, he got a lot out of his first campaign at the college level.

“The whole year has been awesome,” said Triolo. “My arsenal of shots and lax IQ have improved. I gained a lot from watching. I was a catalyst in high school, it was cool to take on a different role. Throughout the games, you feel you are part of something larger.”

For Triolo, the fall ball phase of the season helped him gain confidence that he could compete at the college level.

“It is your first taste of college lacrosse,” said Triolo, a two-time first-team All-Prep B performer during his stellar PDS career.

“It is what you have been working for since you got into the recruiting process. The game is so much faster, the players are bigger, stronger, and faster. It was a ton of fun, getting used to the speed of the game was the biggest challenge. I felt very confident after the fall; it showed me what I needed to work on.”

Heading into the regular season, Triolo worked on both the physical and mental aspects of the game.

“I hit the weights pretty hard and worked on being a dual threat with both hands; I was working a lot on my right hand,” said the 5’8, 170-pound Triolo.

“We started preseason practices in mid-January; we condition pretty hard. We started right away with 2-a-days. Fall ball was a time for working on things; it was more competitive in the preseason, guys were going harder and faster. After the fall, it was making the consistent plays and making the right decisions. I saw that the guys on the field were the ones that made plays consistently. The college game is more meticulous; it requires a high lax IQ.”

Once preseason practices started in mid-January, Triolo tried to make a daily impression on the Leigh coaches. “I worked on the scout offense in practice, we ran the opposing team’s offense and that was a lot of fun,” said Triolo.

“You are out there in practice giving 100 percent. The biggest way to get into the games is playing well in practice.”

One of the more fun experiences of Triolo’s freshman year came when Lehigh played at Princeton on April 8.

“That was an awesome game, it was cool to be back,” said Triolo.

“I remember as a kid, going to games there so that was special. A lot of my buddies were there. Most of my high school team found their way there.”

As the season went on, Triolo found a comfort level on the field. “I was really nervous for Bucknell; I got in pretty early against Yale and the nerves weren’t as bad,” said Triolo, who ended up with three shots in his five appearances this spring.

“You are on the field two hours a day so you have the skill set to play. I had two shots against Lafayette; I did a left-handed dodge.”

While Lehigh didn’t cash in on its shot to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA as it fell to Loyola 16-7 in the Patriot League championship game, Triolo is proud of how the team played in posting a final record of 13-5.

“We had good wins against Navy and Army,” said Triolo, referring to the team’s victories in the Patriot semis and quarters.

“We felt really confident going into the Loyola game. We didn’t put in our best effort. It was definitely a quality season. We have a band of brothers, giving 100 percent all the time; there is nothing to be ashamed about.”

That feeling of brotherhood permeated Triolo’s Lehigh experience on and off the field.

“The team really is a family, we hang out all the time; my absolute boys are in my recruiting class,” said Triolo, who did well in the classroom where he is studying engineering.

“The senior class did a great job of welcoming us, they had some funny and great relationships with the freshmen.”

As Triolo looks ahead to his sophomore season, he is determined to make a greater contribution on the field for the Mountain Hawks.

“I do want to get more playing time and have a bigger role; I have to elevate everything I do to a whole new level,” said Triolo, who is planning to play in a men’s league in Robbinsville this summer and take part in the War at the Shore tourney with some Lehigh teammates.

“I need to get stronger and faster and work on my shooting and my decision-making. The game experience will definitely help.”

CORE CONTRIBUTOR: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Anupreeth Coramutla follows through on a shot in recent action. Last week, freshman Coramutla placed second in first singles to help PDS win the state Prep B tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CORE CONTRIBUTOR: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Anupreeth Coramutla follows through on a shot in recent action. Last week, freshman Coramutla placed second in first singles to help PDS win the state Prep B tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A year ago, the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team jumped into first place the first day of the state Prep B tournament only to come back to the pack to end up in a three-way tie for the title.

Sharing the crown with Pennington and Montclair Kimberley Academy left PDS head coach Will Asch feeling disappointed.

“I think sharing the title in most years is just as nice as winning it alone but it didn’t feel that way last year,” said Asch. “We had a big lead after the first day and we lost some tough matches in the finals.”

Last week, PDS didn’t leave anything to chance in the 2014 Prep B tourney, winning nine of 10 matches on the first day to clinch the title before the finals were even played.

The Panthers saw freshman Anupreeth Coramutla advance to final in first singles with senior Neeraj Devulapalli and sophomore Scott Altmeyer following suit at second and third singles, respectively. The second doubles team of  seniors Hari Rajagopalan and Andy Erickson also made it to the finals.

In reflecting on his team’s performance, Asch acknowledged that he was expecting a much closer fight.

“On paper we looked like the best team; we knew we were better than Pennington, we had beaten them twice pretty easily,” said Asch, who got wins from Devulapalli and Altmeyer in the finals to end up with 11 points with MKA second with six and Gill St. Bernard’s third at four.

“MKA is usually very strong but I was talking to their coach and he said a couple of their seniors had not come out and they were in a down year. We all had strong teams but there wasn’t a dominant team. We had a few close wins on Sunday that could have gone either way.”

Seeing veteran star Devulapalli end his career with a title was a highlight for Asch.

“Neeraj played well; he had a tough second set on Tuesday and I was happy to help him work through it,” said Asch.

“He was down 4-3 and won 6-4. He didn’t have his best stuff but sometimes you have to win when you don’t have your best stuff. He was really dominant in his first and second matches. His forehand was working. His pet shot is a crosscourt forehand and it is a great weapon for him.”

The renaissance of Altmeyer at third singles was heartening. “Scott was one of the top ranked players in the middle states in the 12-and-under but he had some injury problems and got away from the game,” said Asch.

“He has gotten back into it. He loves to compete. He is relentless on the court, he just goes and goes. He plays fast; his matches are over while other guys are still in the first set.”

At first singles, Coramutla displayed his competitive drive. “Anupreeth didn’t play well in his first match on Sunday,” said Asch.

“In his second match, he had to play the No. 2 seed, Pete Daly, who everyone was saying was so good. Anupreeth blew him away. It was one of his days, he was doing everything we had practiced. Progress in tennis at a high level is not quick but he seemed to have incredible improvement. He was serving well and making all of his shots. He just couldn’t beat Jerry in the finals.”

The second doubles team of Rajagopalan and Erickson proved to be the X-factor for the Panthers.

“The second doubles was a real surprise in the Prep B,” said Asch. “They came from behind in the first round to beat Gill. Getting two wins from them really helped us stand out. We ended up winning nine of 10 matches on the first day and clinched the title. If they had lost in the first round, that would have put us at seven and a good team like Gill could have had two more wins.”

In Asch’s view, the team’s success was forged through its spirited training sessions.

“I think we have been having really good practices,” said Asch. “It was great having three singles players who were very competitive and enjoyed playing with each other. We had two very good doubles teams and they were able to practice a lot against each other.”

All in all, it was an enjoyable spring for the Panthers. “It was a great year all around,” said Asch, noting that assistant coach Ed Tseng also played a key role. “They were great kids, we had a lot of success and a lot of fun.”

May 21, 2014
OPEN ARMS: Princeton University women’s open crew head coach Lori Dauphiny, far left, celebrates with the members of her varsity 8 after the Tigers won the final last Sunday at the Ivy League championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. Princeton clocked a time of 6:15.412 to a set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue. In addition, the Tigers earned the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championship regatta by virtue of the victory. The NCAAs are slated for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.(Photo Courtesy of the Ivy League)

OPEN ARMS: Princeton University women’s open crew head coach Lori Dauphiny, far left, celebrates with the members of her varsity 8 after the Tigers won the final last Sunday at the Ivy League championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. Princeton clocked a time of 6:15.412 to a set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue. In addition, the Tigers earned the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championship regatta by virtue of the victory. The NCAAs are slated for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Courtesy of the Ivy League)

After the Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 lost to Brown and Virginia in the first two weeks of the season, Lori Dauphiny decided to do some tinkering.

“The lineup did shift,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny, whose top boat finished 3.0 seconds behind Brown in the opener on March 29 and the same 3.0 second margin behind Virginia a week later.

“It was the same personnel as in the first race against Brown but the seats shifted. We were clicking better and the individuals within the boat all improved as the season went on. It was important to know that we had to improve. We got to see our weaknesses, as painful as that was.”

The Tigers shifted into top gear over the last month of the regular season, going undefeated and posting victories over Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth, Penn, and Clemson.

“We were making progress,” added Dauphiny. “I did get a sense in the last two or three weeks that we were making big strides. We were homing in on race preparation. We were working on all aspects of the race. They had more racing experience. They have more savvy as a boat and had learned to handle different conditions. This boat has shown resilience.”

The Tigers knew that they would have to be resilient as they competed last weekend at the Ivy League championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J.

“The competition was pretty deep; Brown was ranked No. 1 and was the favorite,” said Dauphiny.

“We knew the other boats were gaining speed. Harvard made changes. Dartmouth did well in its heat, it clearly improved. The schools further north tend to gain more speed so the speeds were unknown.”

Apparently, Princeton gained the most speed over the last few weeks as it roared out to an early lead in the final and never looked back, getting open water on its foes, posting a winning time of 6:15.412, more than four seconds better than runner-up Brown at 6:19.722.

The effort set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue and earned the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championship regatta which is slated for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

“It was our best start ever,” asserted Dauphiny, whose varsity 8 included junior Faith Richardson (bow), senior Angie Gould, senior Susannah Shipton, sophomore Meghan Wheeler, freshman Georgie Howe, sophomore Erin Reelick, senior Margy Bertasi, senior Kelsey Reelick (stroke), and senior Annie Prasad (cox).

“I didn’t know what would happen after that. I didn’t know the charge the other boats would make. I am always nervous. I did feel a little better after the heat. I thought this boat could do something good.”

In reflecting on the record-breaking performance, Dauphiny acknowledged that the top boat exceeded her expectations.

“It was an amazing performance,” said Dauphiny. “I didn’t realize it was a course record for the EARC and Ivy until I was on the awards dock. That is outstanding. I didn’t anticipate that at the beginning of the season. It is a nice surprise and a testament to their hard work.”

The hard work of the rowers throughout the program was on display as the Tigers finished second in the team standings at the regatta to Brown, earning a slew of medals.

“The accomplishments of the top boat are the accomplishments of all the rowers,” said Dauphiny, whose second varsity 8 and varsity 4 each finished third with the third varsity 8 and fourth varsity 8 each placing first and the varsity 4B taking second.

“Each girl who raced on Sunday had a medal around her neck. They push each other and support each other. It is a nice environment. It takes a team.”

The 2V and varsity 4 each produced efforts to build on as they will be joining the varsity 8 at the NCAA regatta.

“The 2V fell short of what they wanted to do but I am pleased that they did their best,” said Dauphiny, noting that assistant coaches Kate Maxim and Steve Coppola have played an integral role in getting the boats up to speed.

“They got a medal. The lineups change and the speeds of the boats are unknown. The varsity 4 went through a lot, they made big strides; they had a lot of lineup changes and handled that well.”

Looking ahead to Indianapolis, Dauphiny is hoping that her rowers can make even more strides.

“We plan to keep working on it,” said Dauphiny, whose program is one of three programs, along with Brown and Washington, that have qualified for every championship regatta since the inaugural event in 1997. “We want to maintain our form.”

HEAVY MEDAL: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 heads down Lake Carnegie in a recent regatta. Last weekend, Princeton earned a bronze medal as it took third in the Eastern Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will look for another medal when they compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor from May 30 - June 1.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

HEAVY MEDAL: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 heads down Lake Carnegie in a recent regatta. Last weekend, Princeton earned a bronze medal as it took third in the Eastern Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will look for another medal when they compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor from May 30 – June 1. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Seeing his Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew go to Brown in its regular season finale gave Greg Hughes confidence heading into the Eastern Sprints.

“There were a lot of things that we were working on that we executed well in that race,” said Princeton head coach Hughes.

“It was a boost. We built off a lot of things from that race in our preps for Sprints.”

Posting the fastest heat on Sunday morning at the Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. was another boost for the Tigers.

“We saw that we had the speed to compete at the top,” said Hughes. “We also saw that the league is pretty wide open, there was not one crew that stood out. Whoever put up the best race on the day could win.”

While Princeton didn’t win the final as it took third behind champion Harvard and runner-up Brown, it did produce some good racing.

“It was a tight, competitive field and the conditions were really quick,” said Hughes, whose boat clocked a time of 5:32.411 over the 2,000-meter course with Harvard coming in at 5:27.277 and Brown at 5:28.998.

“In a race like that you have got to get into the race. We were in the pack in the first 750-1000 meters. We established ourselves. We had a good battle on our side with Harvard and Northeastern. Brown did a great job on the other side; they had a really good piece.”

Moving up to the medal stand was a great step forward for the Tigers, whose varsity 8 had taken fourth at the Sprints the last two years.

“It was a solid race for our guys, we wanted to do a little better,” said Hughes.

“We know what we need to work on for the IRAs (the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championship regatta). For a lot of the guys, it was their first medal in a varsity race and for others it was their first medal at sprints. To go into a race that competitive and step up and be strong and fast enough to get a medal when you are not at your best is a major stride forward.”

The Tiger second varsity 8 showed its competitive fire, taking second, an eyelash behind winner Northeastern.

“That was arguably the race of the day,” said Hughes, whose 2V clocked a time of 5:38.837 with Northeastern coming in at 5:37.781.

“It was just an awesome race; all of the boats were within five seconds. You could have been second or sixth just as easily and they found a way to be second.”

While the third varsity 8 didn’t medal as it placed fourth, Hughes was proud of its effort.

“That was their best piece of the year,” noted Hughes “In the regular season we were dealing with some sickness and injury and that trickled down through the boats. Guys were moving up. They raced a lot of different lineups and I was happy they built their speed and had a race like that.”

With the IRAs scheduled for May 30 — June 1 at Mercer Lake, Hughes is looking for his rowers to keep building their speed.

“I think it is more of the same; the work we have been doing has helped us technically,” said Hughes.

“We need to develop race skills and race mentality. That was a tight 6-boat racing last weekend, particularly in the final. That was the first time we saw that this season. We will be more capable of doing that for three days straight when we are in the IRAs.”

Hughes believes that competing at the nearby venue should spur a big final effort from the Tigers.

“We are definitely looking forward to it; it is close to home and close to our fans,” said Hughes.

“It is a good venue for racing, the athletes will feel like they are at a national championship. We saw that in Sacramento last year, they created an awesome environment for the athletes and I am sure it will be the same at Mercer Lake. It is some of the most exciting rowing racing in the world. The college crews are evenly matched, there is very little between them. It highlights the sport and what is so great about it.”