Wednesday, November 18, 2009

First-Team, Four Times

When the All-Ivy men's soccer team was announced Tuesday, the first thing TigerBlog noticed was that Princeton's four first-team selections included a freshman (Mark Linnville), a sophomore (Antoine Hoppenot), a junior (Josh Walburn) and a senior (Devin Muntz).

It's quite an honor for an athlete to be selected first-team All-Ivy League in any sport, even once. The overwhelming majority of players in the league never earn an All-Ivy honor of any kind (first-team, second-team, third-team in some sports, honorable mention in some sports), and it's not something that any of them take lightly, TigerBlog assumes.

For what it's worth, every single one of Princeton's head coaches who are alums was a first-team All-Ivy League selection at least once as an undergraduate: Jim Barlow (men's soccer), Bob Callahan (men's squash), Marty Crotty (lightweight rowing), Greg Hughes (heavyweight rowing), Sydney Johnson (basketball), Jeff Kampersal (women's hockey coach, obviously a men's hockey selection). Director of Athletics Gary Walters was also a first-team All-Ivy selection (basketball).

Linnville's selection in men's soccer puts him in a position to join a highly exclusive club, the four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection club. It's one that doesn't exactly have widespread membership.

TigerBlog went to the Ivy League website to total up how many four-time first-team All-Ivy selections there have been in league history. Keep in mind that in almost every sport, freshman participation didn't exist until the 1970s or later, which eliminates some of the greatest Ivy League athletes of all time.

TB only counted sports where coaches vote for the teams and did not count sports where All-Ivy status is determined by placing in league championships. This eliminated fencing, rowing, cross country, track and field and swimming and diving, where there are hundreds of four-time (or more) All-Ivy picks.

As for the voted-on-by-coaches variety, in Ivy League history there have been 154 four-time first-team All-Ivy League selections. Of those 154, 64 have come from the sport of squash (34 women, 30 men).

The next highest totals? Women's soccer has 19, followed by softball with 12 and women's tennis with 11. No other sport is in double figures.

Baseball and men's basketball have never had a four-time first-team All-Ivy selection. Men's lacrosse (Cornell's Max Siebald) and field hockey (Princeton's Amy MacFarlane) have had one each.

Of the 154 four-time first-team All-Ivy selections, 43 of them - or 28% - are Princeton alums. TigerBlog didn't total up every other school's selections, so he can't say for sure the 28% is the highest total, but if he had to guess, he'd say it is. Only Harvard appeared to be close.

Broken down by sport, nearly half of Princeton's four-timers came from squash, with 11 women and 10 men, including three (Mauricio Sanchez, Hesham El Halaby, Kimlee Wong) who graduated last year.

The next highest number belongs to softball with seven, followed by women's hockey with four and then women's soccer and wrestling with three each.

As for active athletes who have been named first-team All-Ivy each of their years to date, Princeton has nine, including three from this fall: Linnville and field hockey players Julia Reinprecht and Michelle Cesan. Reinprecht's sister Katie (who by the way has been the Ivy Player of the Year each of her first two years) and Kathleen Sharkey, also a sophomore, give Princeton field hockey four of the eight active players who could reach four-time status.

The other four are men's lacrosse player Chad Wiedmaier, women's tennis player Hilary Bartlett and women's squash players Neha Kumar and Amanda Seibert.

It takes a lot to get to be first-team All-Ivy four times, including staying healthy, maintaining performance level and other intangibles.

And of course, getting it done the first three years doesn't mean the senior year is a lock.

Consider Scott Bacigalupo, the goalie on the Princeton men's lacrosse team from 1991-94. Bacigalupo was first-team All-Ivy League as a freshman, sophomore and junior. As a senior, he was the national Player of the Year and the MVP of the Final Four.

And second-team All-Ivy League.


TB North said...

TB North would be remiss if he didn't point out that Harvard running back Clifton Dawson - who broke Ed Marinaro's Ivy rushing record - was a four-time first-teamer as well.

TB North also remembers the shock in Jadwin Room 9 when the 2004 All-Ivy men's lacrosse team came through the fax machine and had Bacigalupo as the second-team goalie. 'Batch' remains the best goalie that TBN has ever seen, though Brown's Jay Stalfort - the '94 first team pick - did win the head-to-head regular-season matchup that year. It was one of those situations in which the two best players in the nation at a given position were in the same conference.

Princeton OAC said...

TB apologizes for the mistake. Football, because of how many players have been honored, has its all-time All-Ivy players listed differently on the Ivy site than the other sports. TigerBlog originally wrote that Dante Balestracci was the only four-time first-team pick; Dawson was as well.