Friday, June 9, 2017

All-America Again

Update from yesterday - TigerBlog's friend Mark reports that he took a drop after hitting the ball into the street and then chipped in from off the green on the next shot to save par.

TB asked him if video exists to prove it. None does, it seems, though TB will take his word for it.

Here's another update from yesterday - TigerBlog found himself near Nassau Hall shortly before noon. It was decidedly less crowded than it had been when he'd been there 48 hours earlier.

TB is sure he could ask someone in the communications office how many people came to this campus in the last week, between Reunions, Class Day and Commencement. Whatever the number is, it's a lot.

The place was flooded with people. There were crowds everywhere.

Sometimes, TigerBlog starts writing something and the words just come flying out. He goes from the first paragraph to the last paragraph without a stop, the thoughts just blending together effortlessly.

Or something like that. In all seriousness, TigerBlog finds it much easier to write that way, quickly, so that his thoughts do continue, as opposed to stopping, going back, trying to figure out where he left off, what he's already said. That's especially true about feature stories, way more so than the daily effort here.

This entry, though, is different.

TigerBlog wrote the update from his friend Mark around 11 yesterday morning, before he headed up near Nassau Hall, which made him wonder about the size of the crowds who had just been there.

Then he had a nice leisurely lunch. Then he wrote the part about wondering how many people were on campus in the last week, so he actually emailed Dan Day in communications.

Then he got into the heavy lifting of his day while waiting for Dan to get back to him. Actually it didn't take Dan that long to inform TB that that there were 26,000 people at Reunions and 10,000 people at Commencement (8,000 of whom took the free panchos that were left out). Throw in some extras here and there, and that's about 40,000 people.

Ah, but TB wasn't sure that was public information, so he emailed Dan back to ask him if it was okay to use. And so he got back to doing other work while he waited, though he did consider what 26,000 or 10,000 or 40,000 people do to the campus.

As he thinks about it and has said before, the only other events that can bring close to that many people here are big football games.

The campus was certainly alive for the last week. Contrast that with when TB was up there yesterday, and it was quiet, almost eerily so. The only sign that anything big had happened there was the last remnants of the fences from Reunions, which were being taken down.

And so TB got to this point, a little past the halfway mark. It was late afternoon - but he had to stop again.

For one, Dan hadn't gotten back to him about using the information, which he ultimately did, which you could have surmised by the fact that TigerBlog already included it. And he wanted to get dinner, which turned out to be dinner for three - TigerBlog, Miss TigerBlog and Miss TigerBlog's hard-to-dislike-even-if-he-constantly-wants-attention cat Jingles.

Speaking of Jingles, MTB started at Instagram feed for him, and he has more than 150 followers already. And he's a cat.

Mostly, TigerBlog had to wait for the results for the NCAA track and field championships, Day 2.  This would be the final event of the academic year, with the final two athletes of the 1,000 or so who represent Princeton set to compete - Julia Ratcliffe in the hammer throw and Allison Harris in the pole vault.

For Harris, it would be an honorable mention All-America performance to cap her career, after being an All-America indoors as well.

As for Ratcliffe, she would finish sixth, making her a first-team All-America for the third time in her career. She becomes the first Princeton women's track and field athlete to be a three-time first-team All-America in the same event.

For those keeping score, Ratcliffe finishes her career with an 11th place finish, an NCAA championship, an NCAA runner-up finish and now a sixth-place finish. She also demolished the Ivy League record, and in fact did so with every single throw of her entire career.

TigerBlog remembers when Ratcliffe first arrived at Princeton from New Zealand. It was five years ago, since she'd take one year off to train for the Olympics.

Then-women's track and field coach Peter Farrell knew what a unique talent Ratcliffe was before she came here, and he had raved about her potential from Day 1. When Ratcliffe came to Princeton - literally, after the long flight from home - there was nobody in the women's track and field office. In fact there was nobody in Jadwin Gym other than TigerBlog and a handful of others, and Ratcliffe's first stop was a chair in TB's old office on the balcony.

She seemed tired then.

She leaves Princeton as one its greatest student-athletes ever. She was a nearly perfect student in economics, and it'll be a long time before someone dominates an event in the Ivy League the way Ratcliffe dominated the hammer.

She's also, in TB's limited time with her, been an incredibly nice, polite person, but also one with a quick wit and an easy laugh. What more could Princeton have asked for from one of its athletes.

TigerBlog has been lucky to be around a lot of really impressive athletes in his time at Princeton. There haven't been many who compare to Julia Ratcliffe. Hopefully she reaches the Olympics in 2020. Regardless, whatever she does, you can bet that she'll do it very well.

And with that, the 2016-17 athletic year at Princeton is over.

And so is TigerBlog for today - nearly 12 hours after he started writing this. That, friends, is definitely a record.

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