Monday, June 13, 2016

The End Of The Race

TigerBlog took a long look at the picture, the one with Cecilia Barowski on the left and Peter Farrell on the right, taken after the Barowski ended her Princeton career with a fifth-place finish in the women's 800 meters.

Cecilia, whom TB has never met, is smiling. She is holding her trophy, and it's clear what she's thinking.

Peter is harder to read.

Actually, TB's first thought about Peter when he saw the picture was that TB has the same shirt. After that, it gets much more complex.

Farrell is sort of smiling, sort of looking out into the distance. Maybe it's just the second the picture was snapped. Maybe a split second earlier, Peter had the same smile that Cecilia did. Maybe a split second later too.

TigerBlog doesn't think so, though.

In all his time at Princeton, in all his life actually, TB has met very few people he likes more than Peter Farrell. In the nearly 25 years he's known him, he thinks he's gotten to understand him as well.

This time? No idea.

The end of the 800-meter final Saturday night ended Peter Farrell's 39-year run as the only head coach of women's track and field and cross country that Princeton has had. So what could he have been thinking in the moment?

Pretty much everything, TB would assume.

Let's start with Barowski, though.

Barowski won the 2016 von Kienbusch Award as the top senior female athlete at Princeton. She also won every race she ran outdoors this spring prior to the NCAA final.

Along the way she won Heps, she won both races at the NCAA regional and then Thursday night won her semifinal heat, defeating the defending NCAA champ (Oregon's Raevyn Rogers) and the runner with the fastest time in the even this season (Stanford's Olivia Baker).

When the final began, Barowski found herself at the back of the eight-runner field for much of the way. As Rogers began to zoom away from the field, Barowski also made a big run towards the front.

In fact, Barowski ran a 31.015, which was second only to the 29.640 that Rogers ran. If the race had been the 830 instead of the 800, Barowski might have come in second.

It's not the last time that Barowski will have run on the track in Eugene, Ore. She'll be back in three weeks or so for the Olympic Trials, which will be July 1-10.

A few minutes after her final collegiate race, after the awards ceremony, Cecilia and Peter had their picture taken.

And so that brings us back to Peter. And to Pete Carril.

TigerBlog wrote this when Peter said he was retiring at the end of the year, that he thinks there are a lot of similarities between Peter Farrell and Pete Carril. You can read about it HERE.

TigerBlog was there when Carril's Princeton career ended. When he made his announcement. And when he coached his final game, a loss to Mississippi State in the second round of the 1996 NCAA tournament.

As TB thinks back, there wasn't anything in Carril's demeanor that suggested that he was pulling in the enormity of his final moments of 29 years as Princeton's basketball coach.

Maybe that's impossible as it is actually unfolding.

But when TB looked at Carril in the RCA Dome after the loss to Mississippi State, he sensed that there was something a little different about him, that as much as he tried to pretend it was business as usual, he knew it wasn't.

And again, maybe that was just the way TB read the situation. But he doesn't think so.

For Peter Farrell, it had to be somewhat similar.

Peter's normal reactions to any situations are to either be incredibly funny or deadly serious. Comedian or philosphopher.

TB wasn't in Oregon with him in the moment, so he doesn't know for sure. But there's something in that picture that suggests that he wasn't quite sure what emotion he was feeling.

He does know what TB was thinking, though.

First, this was the end of one of the greatest coaching careers in Princeton Athletics history. How many coaches can say that they have coached as many athletes as Peter Farrell has? How many coaches have had nearly 40 years of sustained success?

One coach who can say that he has is Fred Samara, the head men's track and field coach. Fred and Peter started on the same day, Sept. 1, 1977. The second thing TB thought was that it was the end of that incredible partnership.

Mostly, though, TB thought about how much Princeton women's track and field, and Princeton Athletics and the University as a whole, have always meant to Peter and how much he has given to everyone here. He has been a staple of this University, well-liked and well-respected at every point on this campus.

Princeton moves on from everyone at some point, even Carril. The women's track and field program will in place next year. It just won't be run by Peter Farrell.

He'll be off somewhere, talking to someone, making them laugh and making them think, getting their attention and getting his point across, as only he can.

The picture after the 800 meters?

A first-team All-America on the left.

One of Princeton's best employees ever on the right, in his final moments of that career.

Much like Peter Farrell himself, TB wanted to smile, but could only manage to do so halfway.

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