Friday, June 7, 2013

It Went Okay

Ryan Crouser had six throws in the shot put - or, correctly, six puts of the shot - at the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Wednesday and went foul, foul, 20.31 meters, foul, foul, foul.

The five fouls didn't end up mattering. The 20.31 meters did, as it made Crouser the NCAA champion.

Then, the Texas sophomore - all 6-7, 240 of him - went back to his hotel, where he ran into Princeton's OAC track and field contact, Kristy McNeil, who is more than a foot shorter.

As Kristy relayed the story, she saw him in the hallway with his Texas track warmups on and asked him what event he did. When he said he was in the shot put, she asked him how he did, to which he replied something along the lines of "it went okay."

Then, when she pressed him for where he finished, he said "I won."

While Princeton hasn't had a champion at these championships, not everyone goes with a chance to win - or defines success by coming home with a victory.

Princeton has had three All-Americas so far, the first two of whom were on the same day Crouser won the shot put, as Julia Ratcliffe in the hammer and Russell Dinkins in the 800 both earned second-team honors.

Princeton's best showing so far came last night in the 10,000, when senior Michael Franklin finished fifth, a finish that made him a first-team All-America. It was also Princeton's best finish ever in the 10K at the NCAA championships.

TigerBlog will steal the next two paragraphs from McNeil's story on the race, which also has a great picture of Franklin:

This year's Ivy League champion in the 5 and 10k, Franklin entered the meet seeded 18th out of 24. He finished in front of top-seeded Girma Mecheso  (OSU) as well as Parker Stinson (Oregon) who had the third-best time in the nation entering today’s race.

Franklin was in second place for the first couple laps before he settled comfortably into a big pack. With about nine laps remaining the race starting to slow a bit and athletes started to break away from one another. Franklin found himself steady in the top 12 and with three laps to go he turned it on. He ran his fastest three laps in the final three laps clocking a 1:08.17, 1:06.73 and closed with a 1:01.62 - the second -fastest lap of any of the competitors throughout the entire race.

Princeton sent nine athletes to the championships, and eight of them have already competed.

The only one left to go is junior Imani Oliver in the women's triple jump.

Oliver, the school-record-holder in the triple jump, is not only the last Princeton athlete to compete at the NCAA championships but also the last Princeton athlete in any sport to compete in the 2012-13 academic year.

Princeton Athletics has been going strong since last Aug. 31, when the women's volleyball team, soccer teams and field hockey team opened their seasons.

One of the things that TB loves about his job is that no two years are exactly the same, and each year provides its own challenge. The 2012-13 academic year is one of the best that TB has seen around here.

Princeton won four NCAA championships this academic year, beginning with the field hockey team and continuing with fencing, an individual fencer and the indoor track and field distance medley relay team. There were some epic performances this year, and Princeton has had some of the best athletes who have ever played their sports at the school - and in some cases the best athlete ever to play his/her sport - compete this year.

As TB looks back at the 2012-13 year, another part of what he loves about Princeton couldn't be clearer.

There are some who would never want to work at a place that doesn't have BCS-level football and basketball and then a big drop-off in importance to everything else.

For TB, the diversity of sports at Princeton - and of the people who play them - is still a huge lure.

It was on display all year, with 38 sports and nearly 1,000 athletes, all leading up to today, when Oliver's last triple jump will bring the curtain down again - until it starts up again for another year, with another new set of challenges, with no guarantee for continued success.

The 2012-13 academic year?

Hey, like Ryan Crouser said, it went okay.

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