August 7, 2019

BITTERSWEET: Zoe Bitterman displays her breaststroke form in a race earlier this summer for the Community Park Bluefish swim team. Bitterman starred at the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in July, earning PASDA MVP honors for the 10-and-under girls. The Bluefish won their fifth straight Division 1 crown at the meet, piling up 3,649 points with Lawrenceville Swim Association well behind in second with 2.159.50. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Boasting a throng of 220 athletes, the Community Park Bluefish swim team continued its dominance of the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) this summer.

Competing at the PASDA championship meet in late July at the West Windsor Waterworks, the Bluefish cruised to their fifth straight Division 1 team title, piling up 3,649 points with Lawrenceville Swim Association well behind in second with 2.159.50. That victory culminated a 2019 campaign that saw the Bluefish go undefeated in dual meet competition for a fifth straight season. more

July 31, 2019

BRONX TALE: Former Princeton University standout David Hale fires a pitch in recent action for the New York Yankees. Hale has emerged as a key middle relief pitcher this summer for the Yankees, going 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 19 games through July 29. (Photo provided courtesy of the New York Yankees, all rights reserved).

By Justin Feil

David Hale expected there would be some travel in his baseball career, but he could never had imagined the extent of it.

The Princeton University graduate has been around the world for baseball.

“It’s all more than I would have expected,” said Hale, who went on to graduate from Princeton in 2011 after being drafted in 2009.

“It was always a dream. I think that’s why I chose Princeton. I had the ability to go there and they were looking at me. Going to that school gave me a plan. Baseball was a back-up plan. I know how fast baseball can end so I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself to just be a baseball player. I’m glad I got my degree from Princeton. It’s something I hope to use someday.” more

PULLING AHEAD: Morgan Linsley, center, competes for the U.S. U-19 women’s four in recent action. Recent Princeton High grad and Duke University commit Linsley is heading to Tokyo next week to row for the U.S. in 2019 World Rowing Junior Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

By Bill Alden

For Morgan Linsley, suffering a knee injury put her on the path to competing in rowing on the world stage.

After being involved in competitive swimming for nine years, Linsley hurt her knee in eighth grade and was forced to take a hiatus from the pool. When she recovered, Linsley realized that she needed to find a new athletic outlet as she entered her freshman year at Princeton High in 2015.

“I saw that I had lost a lot of my swimming ability since I had to take a whole year off,” said Linsley.

“I wanted to try a new sport. My knee doctor was the wife of the Princeton men’s crew coach [Greg Hughes] and she said I could be a good rower so give it a shot.” more

FAB FOUR: Recent Stuart Country Day School grad Annie Huber, third from left, enjoys the moment after helping the Princeton National Rowing Association Mercer Junior Rowing (PNRA-Mercer) Youth Men’s 4 with coxswain take second at the USRowing Youth National Championships last month in Sarasota, Fla. The boat included Brady Stergion (Notre Dame High), Jack Gallagher (Council Rock North), and juniors Leon Deng (Princeton High) and Grant Smith (Montgomery High) in addition to coxswain Huber.

By Bill Alden

In her junior season with Princeton National Rowing Association Mercer Junior Rowing (PNRA-Mercer) in 2018, Annie Huber wasn’t expecting to guide her Men’s Four to a medal at the USRowing Youth National Championships.

“I don’t think I understood how good we were; I knew that the boys on my boat were fast and that we rowed well together,” said coxswain Huber, who helped the crew place third and earn bronze. “I was thinking maybe we could make the A final.”

Losing three rowers from that boat, Huber wasn’t sure if this year’s four could make a big run at nationals. more

BLAZE OF GLORY: Jude Blaser takes a swing last week at the Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Regional. Blaser, a Princeton resident, helped the West Windsor-Plainsboro 14U all-star team reach the quarterfinals of the competition, which was held at Switlik Park in Hamilton. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the West Windsor-Plainsboro 14U all-star team had already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals of the Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Regional, it kept scrapping as it faced SORENSCO (Southern Rensselaer County, N.Y.) in a pool play game last Wednesday night.

WW-P yielded two runs in the top of the first inning in the contest played at Switlik Park in Hamilton but answered back quickly as Jude Blaser knocked in a run in the bottom of the frame. Jack Durbin added an RBI in the bottom of the third to knot the game at 2-2.

After SORENSCO broke the deadlock with two runs in the the top of the fourth, Kenny Schiavone blasted a homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the sixth to narrow the gap to 4-3. more

BLUE THUNDER: Loyaltees star Zahrion Blue flies to the hoop earlier this season in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, former Princeton High star Blue poured in a game-high 29 points as top-seeded and defending champion Loyaltees defeated second-seeded NJ Spiritwear 88-45 in game one of the best-of-three championship series. Game two is slated for Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts with game three, if necessary, to take place on August 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Zahrion Blue is saving his best for last as he stars for the Loyaltees squad in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Former Princeton High star and current Lincoln University standout Blue poured in 35 points as top-seeded and defending champion Loyaltees defeated second-seeded defeated eighth-seeded Team NRGY 83-62 in a playoff quarterfinal contest last Wednesday.

Two days later, Blue tallied 19 points to help Loyaltees overcome a 40-30 second half deficit against fifth-seeded Sakana and pull out a 52-50 win in the semis. more

July 24, 2019

THREE BALL: Kareem Maddox goes up for a shot in the 2010-11 season during his senior campaign for the Princeton University men’s basketball team. Maddox, the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection in 2011, is moving up the ranks in the United Stares 3×3 hoops program. Recently, he teamed up with Robbie Hummel, Damon Huffman, and Canyon Barry to help the U.S. defeat Latvia for its first World Cup championship title at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Amsterdam. In late June, Maddox was selected for the USA Men’s 3×3 Pan American Games team that will play in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, from July 27-August 10. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

By Justin Feil

Five years after former Princeton University men’s basketball star Kareem Maddox retired from playing professional ball overseas, he has a realistic shot at the 2020 Olympics.

After working as a radio host and producer in his hometown Los Angeles and then Colorado, the 2011 Princeton graduate has revived a chance at his childhood dream through 3×3 basketball which will be contested at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for the first time.

“It’s unbelievable,” said the multi-talented 6’ 8, 220-pound Maddox.  more

SEEING THE LIGHT: Elizabeth Brennan controls the ball during a game in the fall of 2017 as she played in her senior season for the Princeton Day School field hockey team. Matriculating to Princeton University last fall, Brennan has switched from the turf to the water, walking on to the Tiger women’s lightweight rowing program. She competed for the third varsity eight this past spring for Princeton. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Some of Elizabeth Brennan’s fondest memories of her time at Princeton Day School came from playing field hockey and lacrosse.

When Brennan went across town last fall to start her freshman year at Princeton University, she felt a void in her life.

“I missed being on a team,” said Brennan. “I think it is one of the biggest things that I loved about high school, having my teammates and having that connection with them.”

Searching for a new sporting outlet, Brennan went to the school’s athletic exposition last September to survey her options. more

DIPLOMATIC APPROACH: Bridget Kane, right, battles to get past a foe in a game during her career for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team. This past spring, Kane competed in her debut season for the Franklin & Marshall women’s program, helping the Diplomats advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When Bridget Kane started going to the Franklin & Marshall lacrosse camp in seventh grade, she was focusing on sharpening her skills.

“I did the college camps, not to get recruited but to improve my game,” said Kane.

Entering the Princeton Day School in the fall of 2014, Kane got serious about the college recruiting process.

“My freshman year is when I started going to the big recruiting tournaments,” said Kane. “It was really real, that it is was an option to play in college.” more

By Bill Alden

A week ago, NJ Spiritwear cruised to a 69-46 win over Hometown Moving and Storage at the Community Park courts in its final game of regular season play in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

When the teams met for a rematch in a quarterfinal contest inside a steamy John Witherspoon Middle School gym last Monday evening, second-seeded Spiritwear struggled to find a rhythm in the early going against seventh-seeded Hometown Moving, clinging to a 16-12 lead at halftime

In reflecting on the sluggish start for Spiritwear, guard Tyler Jones acknowledged that moving inside to the stifling gym took some adjustment.

“The indoor court was the biggest difference,” said Jones. “We started off a little slow. It is hot in here and the ball got a little wet.” more

July 17, 2019

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

July 10, 2019

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

By Justin Feil

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

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

July 3, 2019

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

Nils Wildberg ended the winter track season by making history.

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

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

June 26, 2019

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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