Monday, March 11, 2013

"We Believe In Pete"

It was completely beautiful Saturday morning at around 10 as TigerBlog made the right turn off 15-501 onto the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

As he came up the hill, he reached the stop sign where, if he made a left, he'd drive right past the mammoth Dean Smith Center, the home for Carolina basketball. Since he was early, he figured he would, and as he did, he found a few hundred people already milling around outside the building.

It was a pretty impressive site, considering that tip-off for UNC-Duke basketball was still 11 hours away. And, as TB tweeted, the Carolina fans were wearing t-shirts that seemed to indicate that they didn't quite like the Blue Devils.

TB then made a U-turn and headed up the hill, winding past Kenan Stadium and the baseball field (which is nicer than Waterfront Park, where the Trenton Thunder play, and Waterfront Park is pretty nice) and then to the top, where he turned left, parked and made the short walk down to Fetzer Field.

It was already near 60 and completely sunny by then, and it would get even warmer by the time the Princeton-North Carolina men's lacrosse game began at noon.

And by the time it ended, it was temperatures in the mid-60s and shots in the high 90s, as in 99 total shots between the teams, in a 16-15 Carolina win.

The men's lacrosse game was followed by UNC-Virginia women's lacrosse, which Carolina won 8-7.

TigerBlog joked yesterday that he wondered if there was a Carolina fan anywhere who said something like "well, the men's basketball team got thumped by Duke, but at least we won two good lacrosse games."

His sense is no.

What about at Princeton?

It's more likely that there are people here who thought "pretty good weekend even with what happened to men's basketball" than there were at Carolina.

Yes, Princeton did not have a great weekend in men's basketball. The Tigers fell twice on the road, Harvard swept, and the race is now over.

And it would have been great to get the lacrosse game, especially how it played out in the final 90 seconds.

Still, there were some great moments to this weekend.

First, the women's basketball team and men's swimming and diving teams both won Ivy League championships, something that has become an annual occurrence for both, with four straight for the women's basketball team and five straight for the men's swimming and diving team.

TigerBlog ranked the top five events of last weekend and heard some feedback from those who disagreed.

Were he ranking this week's big winners, he would have women's basketball and men's swimming and diving two and three, or maybe tied for second.

No. 1 this weekend?

The men's distance medley relay team of Michael Williams, Austin Hollimon, Russell Dinkins and Peter Callahan (go to the 3:45 mark of the video, by the way).

For the third straight weekend, the DMR used a furious finish by Callahan to win a huge event, first at Heps, then at a meet at Notre Dame that qualified them for the NCAAs and ultimately at the NCAA championship itself in Fayetteville, Ark.

What makes it more amazing is that Callahan is a senior who basically was out for the last 12 months due to injury. He ran for the first time after that recovery - and clearly is showing no ill-effects.

In the video of each race, Callahan bursts from the pack for a stunning kick to win going away.

And each time, he looked like it was effortless.

The kick Saturday night in Fayetteville began just a few steps before the start of the final lap. Callahan was sitting in third in what appeared to be anyone's race - and then he was gone.

And no one in the field could mount any kind of counter move.

TigerBlog isn't a track and field guy and doesn't pretend to know much about it, but it's wildly impressive to see what Callahan has done the last three weeks. Each time, he looks like he's simply shifting into another gear, and away he goes.

It's one thing to do it at Heps. It's another thing to do it the way he has the last two weekends, against teams stocked with runners of the highest level nationally.

If you take for granted the success of Princeton's track and field programs, then events like this should be a reminder of just how impressive what the Tigers do can be.

For Princeton, it was the first NCAA indoor running championship since 1975, when the Tigers won the 4x 2-mile, an event no longer contested. Of course, the last outdoor running title was a year ago, when Donn Cabral won the NCAA steeplechase.

TB loved the post race interview with the four Princeton runners, especially when Hollimon said "we believe in Pete."

Why wouldn't they?

After what he's done the last three weekends, who wouldn't?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Callahan went by the leaders as if they were tied to a tree. Turbo-boost.