Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Olivia And Julia

There's a plastic cup on the round desk in TigerBlog's office, opposite the desk at which TB sits.

He's not 100 percent sure who put it there. He knows he didn't.

He thinks it might be Luis Nicolao, the women's water polo coach. Luis stopped in yesterday and seemed a bit down.

It's understandable. You would be too if you'd coached Ashleigh Johnson for the last time.

Johnson's remarkable Princeton career ended this past weekend in the CWPA championship game, where the Tigers fell to Michigan 5-4. Johnson made 12 saves in her final game as a Princeton athlete and was, in her coach's word, "extraordinary."

With that, Luis became her former coach, not her current coach. It's how it works in college athletics.

The interesting thing is that Luis is not the only Princeton women's coach who will be feeling this way, though hopefully he will be the only one to leave a half-full cup of water on TB's other desk.

As far as women's athletes go, you can't really do much better than Princeton's Class of 2017. This has to be, by far, the class with the most great top-of-the-line women athletes Princeton has ever had.

Think about it.

There's Johnson, the Olympic gold medalist who came back to compete again for the Tigers. She is not the only one though.

There are any number of women athletes who are seniors who are either the best or clearly in the top handful of players their sport has ever seen here.

Just go sport-by-sport. You can see for yourself. It's an amazing group. Just wait until the von Kienbusch Award finalists are announced in the coming weeks. 

He does want to mention two others besides Johnson, while he's at it now though.

The first is Olivia Hompe of the women's lacrosse team.

Hompe has had an extraordinary career and upped things her senior year. She enters this weekend's Ivy League tournament at Cornell with a Princeton lacrosse (men's or women's) season total of 60 goals, and she is tied for the program record (again, men's or women's) with 85 points this season.

Hompe has a minimum of two games left as a Tiger. Princeton takes on Penn in the Ivy League tournament Friday and even with a loss would still reach the NCAA tournament. Princeton, with wins in either tournament, would obviously play more games.

Hompe is trying to chase down some pretty long-standing records in Princeton lacrosse history. The longer a record stands, the more it seems daunting for someone to reach it.

Some Princeton records seem like they'll never be broken. Bill Bradley's for instance, have stood for more than 50 years. But hey, maybe one of these years someone will come along and score more than 2,503 points. TB doesn't think so, but maybe.

The current record for points in a career for a Princeton lacrosse player is 270, set by Crista Samaras, who graduated in 1999. Samaras also has 189 career goals, best ever at Princeton.

If you're wondering about the men's records, they are 1) 247 points (Kevin Lowe ’94) and 163 goals (Jesse Hubbard ’98) and 2) vulnerable, if Michael Sowers stays healthy for four years (TB will now knock on any and all wood substances anywhere near him).

By the way, Kevin Lowe wore No. 16 here from 1991-94 and then Jesse Hubbard wore it from 1995-98. That's a pretty good run for the No. 16. 

Anyway, back at Hompe, she takes 260 points and 183 goals into the Ivy tournament. She is currently second in both, behind Samaras.

When Samaras graduated, she had a 50-point lead on the old record. Other than Hompe, no other player has come within 48 of Samaras in the nearly 20 years since, so it's possible that Samaras and Hompe will be 1-2 for a long time to come.

Then there's Julia Ratcliffe.

The greatest hammer thrower in Ivy League history - by a distance that probably is greater than she can throw the hammer. Ratcliffe has already been an NCAA champion and an NCAA runner-up, and she's a threat to win it again this year.

Ratcliffe won the women's hammer throw at the Penn Relays last weekend. This is not surprising.

TB wants to add two little notes to her win.

First, any of her four throws would have won the event, since her "worse" effort was better than anyone else's best.

Second, she has now won the Penn Relays collegiate hammer throw three times. You know who else has done that in the 123 year history of the Penn Relays?

Nobody. That's fairly impressive.

Oh, by the way, Olivia Hompe and Julia Ratcliffe both have nearly perfect GPAs.

Anyway, in a ridiculous year to be a great senior women's athlete at Princeton, these two are near the head of the class, in more ways than just their GPAs.


Steven Feldman '68 said...

Nice article on the incredible female athletes at Princeton. The sentence about Julia Ratcliffe: "The greatest hammer thrower in Ivy League history--by a distance that is greater than she can throw the hammer.", does not seem to make sense.

TigerBlog said...

It's a metaphor ...

Anonymous said...

Women were allowed to compete at a full program of events at Penn Relays in 1978... That rich 123 year history is shortened to under 40 years for women. I'd bet the hammer throw was added even later. The women's hammer throw was first added to the Olympic program in 2000.