Monday, May 6, 2013

Three Straight, 15 Overall

TigerBlog pulled into the Jadwin Gym parking lot close to six yesterday, just in time to see the aftermath of the Heps track and field meet.

TB knew he wasn't going to be back in time to see the men's 4x400 relay, the final event of the day. He'd been following the meet on Twitter while he drove back from Ithaca.

Relax. He wasn't driving and looking at Twitter. He was a passenger, in a car driven by Princeton's Senior Associate Director of Athletics Anthony Archbald.

TB and Archbald spent a lot of time together this weekend. They drove back from Ithaca after the men's lacrosse game Friday night, arriving in the wee hours. Then it was back to Ithaca Saturday night, arriving near midnight. And then the return trip yesterday afternoon.

Archbald has something in his car that TB does not have in his, and that is satellite radio.

If TB had satellite radio, it would almost always be on the E Street channel, when it wasn't on sporting events.

The two got to listen to Game 7 of the Nets and Bulls Saturday night, on the home station of the Bulls. TB could not believe what homers they were, including this stinging postgame interview question one of the broadcasters asked one of the players: "Who is smiling more now, me or you?"

Yesterday, it was Oklahoma City-Memphis Game 1 and Knicks-Pacers Game 1.

Both are Knicks fans from when they were little, but TB has renounced his loyalty for the remainder of these playoffs on the grounds that his team is the least likeable team in all of professional sports. Archbald was also rooting for the Grizzlies, who apparently gave it away at the end.

There's something odd about listening to an NBA game on the radio, in that it's almost impossible to follow,  simply because of how often the score changes. Inevitably it becomes background noise, until the second half of the fourth quarter.

Archbald's satellite radio display also had a function that kept the score updated on the screen itself. TB hoped that it did so automatically via some link to a stat feed, rather than having someone whose job it is to manually change the score as the game goes along.

Archbald was intently following the games, especially the Knicks, to a degree that TB admired for its sheer concentration alone.

And so as Archbald made the occasional hand gesture or barely audible sigh at a Knicks foul or turnover, TB enjoyed the passenger seat, something he's almost never in. He sent a few text messages, read Laxpower and Inside Lacrosse to see what speculation was out there about the coming NCAA selections, played a word game or two and followed Heps on Twitter.

It's really hard to keep track of track, and even field, based solely on the team score at any given moment. If you think there are radical swings in NBA games on radio, it's even more pronounced in a track meet on Twitter.

There are a certain number of events remaining to be contested, and there are certain strengths and weaknesses for each team, which means that losing, even by an apparently large margin, at a certain point is no big deal.

On the men's side, TB knew that it would be between Princeton and Cornell, as it always seems to be for the last 12 years or so.

TB also knew that the 4x400 was a Princeton strength, so the Tigers always had that to fall back on, especially when Cornell's lead was erased and the teams were tied at 142-142 with four events left.

Other than that, it was hard to know event-by-event where the meet stood.

Still, it was a fun way to follow what was going on, with pictures and videos on Twitter, not to mention others who were checking about the meet.

In the end, Princeton would win by an apparently comfortable 28 points. It was the third straight outdoor Heps for the Tiger men and the 15th overall.

Every Princeton runner scored points in the 1500, 110 hurdles, 400, 100, 800, 400 hurdles and 200.

It's easy to just look at the results and see that the Tigers won without giving it much thought, but Princeton this has been a glorious era for Princeton's track and field programs, both of which are filled with glorious eras.

As TB arrived back at Jadwin, the visiting teams were loading up buses, gathering their stuff and heading home. Princeton's post-meet celebrations were wrapping up. Parents of all athletes from all eight Ivy schools were everywhere.

TB was struck by the big difference between the event he had been at - the men's lacrosse tournament - and Heps track and field, and that is that Heps felt like a huge party, probably because it involves all eight schools and because it involves the men and women at the same place at the same time.

There are certain dates on the annual Princeton sports calendar that are a little more special than others, and anything that has the word "Heps" in it is on the list.

TB loves the cross country event each fall.

He was hoping to get there for the end yesterday, but he knew he wouldn't.

Besides, Twitter was a great way to follow what was going on, right up to the news that the Tiger men had won.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Driving four hours back from Cornell to arrive at 3:00 or 4:00 on Saturday morning, just to turn around and get back on the highway for the return trip about sixteen hours later. That is not exactly a Chamber of Commerce endorsement of the pleasures of spending time in Ithaca, is it?