Thursday, January 17, 2019

No. 84, Jesper Horsted

You know what is one month from yesterday?

That's right. It's lacrosse opening day. How about that? It's not that far removed from Christmas and New Year's, and practice is still two weeks away.

Opening day? That's now just four weeks from Saturday. The women are home against Temple. The men are at Monmouth.

There will be 15 home lacrosse games this coming season, seven for the men and eight for the women. There will be two doubleheaders, on March 2 (men vs. Johns Hopkins, women vs. Columbia) and March 23 (women vs. Brown, men vs. Yale).

There's a lot of excitement and anticipation for both teams as they think about the 2019 season. Also, women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer brings 399 career wins into the year as she looks to become the second women's Division I coach ever to reach the 400 mark.

On the men's side, this is Year 1 of some major, major rules overhauls, including the addition of a shot clock and a change in the dimensions of the substitution box that will result in way more transitional play. Princeton, as much as any team, will be helped by the rules changes.

That's all the lacrosse TB will give you today. Still, just a month to Opening Day? That's exciting.

February is crossover season for Princeton Athletics, and nearly half of Princeton's varsity teams - 18 of 37 - will be competing on the first Saturday of the month alone. There will be 15 on the second Saturday and then 17 on each of the last two.

That's a total of 67 events on just the four Saturdays of the month of February. With just about 700 events in the calendar year, that means that a little less than 10 percent of the entire athletic schedule for the academic year will be played on just those four Saturdays.

Throw in the 42 events on the four Fridays that month and the 28 on the four Sundays, and that adds up to 127 out of 700 athletic events on the four weekends in February alone.

That, of course, puts a lot of stress on the people whose jobs it is to make all of those events happen. It's also the most fun part of the year, when everything builds to the end of the winter season and the spring teams are just starting out.

It's also quite a contrast with what's going on now, with no events at all for two weeks because of first semester exams.

There is one Princeton athlete who is competing this weekend, and that is football player Jesper Horsted. He won't be wearing a Princeton uniform, or for that matter his familiar No. 4. But he'll be competing in a big game nonetheless.

Horsted will be playing in the East-West Shrine Game, an all-star game that dates back to 1925. Or actually earlier, though it began as a baseball game. Either way, it's an event that raises money for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

This will be the 93rd edition of the game. Horsted will wear No. 84 for the East team, and TB isn't sure if Horsted chose that or had it assigned to him and if he did choose it if he did so to honor his Princeton teammate and fellow wide receiver, Stephen Carlson.

Like every player in the game, Horsted is there to impress NFL scouts. In many ways, the practices during the week are as important or more important than the game itself, and Horsted apparently has already been turning some heads, as his Princeton head coach, Bob Surace, tweeted:
As you know, Horsted is coming off an amazing season after he caught 72 passes for 1,047 yards and 13 touchdowns as Princeton went a perfect 10-0. It was the first perfect season the program has had in 54 years.

Maybe Horsted's best catches, of which there were many, were a few during the key moments of Princeton's only really close game of the year, a 14-9 win over a Dartmouth team that would go 9-1. Horsted finished his career as Princeton's career leader in receptions and touchdown receptions - and as the narrator of the TAGD video.

The East-West Shrine Game can be seen Saturday at 3 on the NFL Network. It makes at least one Princeton athlete you can watch this weekend.

Don't worry. You'll have a lot of other chances to see a lot of other Princeton athletes really, really soon.

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