Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Comeback Kids

TigerBlog is in the market for a new cereal.

For essentially his entire life, he's gone with Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies. Actually, way back when, he went with their more sugary counterparts, Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Krispies, something that he chalks up to youth and inexperience.

TB can't imagine how many Flakes and Krispies he's eaten in his life. He imagines that they're in the millions.

For some reason, he woke up a few weeks ago, looked at the Rice Krispies and decided he needed something new. He was still fine with the Corn Flakes, something that was equally as confusing as turning his back on a cereal that had carried him through breakfasts for five decades.

Breakfast has done a pretty good job of marketing itself. While lunch has mostly had catchy jingles about lunch meat and bologna and dinner has been all over the map with everything from frozen pizza to meat loaf, breakfast has kept its promotional efforts simple.

Ask anyone about breakfast, and they'll say it's the most important meal of the day. Even when everyone knows it isn't. TigerBlog ranks them 1) dinner, 2) lunch, 3) breakfast.

TigerBlog loves bacon and eggs, especially on a nice bagel, but he almost never has anything for breakfast other than cereal. And now he was staring at his Rice Krispies and thinking he needed a change.

After Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies, the cereals that TB has had the most are Multigrain Cheerios and Golden Grahams. He went with a box of each to replace the Rice Krispies, and then he decided to branch out.

Ah, but where to go? He tried Crispix, which is a rice/corn cereal. It was okay, but nothing special. He tried Life, which he remembered having as a kid, but that was like eating cardboard.

Then he stumbled on one that seemed okay. Cinnamon Chex. Hey, it was pretty good. He's on his second box of it now, and it looks promising.

If you go to the cereal aisle in the supermarket, you're flooded with all kinds of options. Too many of them are way too sugary, even if that's part of their appeal. TB could eat Cocoa Puffs all day, except for the fact that there are 12 grams of sugar per serving, as opposed to 1.82 grams in Corn Flakes. The Cinnamon Chex have eight grams, which isn't great but is still way better than Cocoa Puffs, even if the fact that Cocoa Puffs can make the milk chocolaty is still pretty cool.

Rice Krispies, by the way, have 3.5 grams of sugar per serving.

A year ago, none of this would have mattered much to TB. Now, he's coming up on the anniversary of being somewhat diet-obsessed, one that has 1) ruined his ability to eat most of the things he loves and 2) had some really positive effects on his weight and overall healthy. It's the trade-off.

TB has hit something of a plateau in weight-loss, which is fine. He still weighs himself every morning though, and he's amazed that his weight can vary plus or minus a pound or two or even more from day to day.

TB was on the middle school wrestling team in eighth grade, but back then, he needed to gain weight, not lose weight, as he was about a 90-pounder wrestling at 98 pounds. It made him, he assumes, a rarity in the sport.

Even though TB wasn't a very successful wrestler and he never wrestled again after eighth grade, he doesn't have to be a genius in the sport to figure out that what Chris Ayres is doing with the Princeton wrestling program is extraordinary.

To say that Princeton wrestling has struggled in the last 20 years is a major understatement. Ayres, now in his eighth season as head coach, has never wavered from his belief that Princeton could be a significant player in Ivy League and Eastern wrestling, and it's starting to come true.

Lately, it's been in highly dramatic fashion.

Princeton rallied to defeat Columbia 18-16 after trailing 16-7 with three matches left last weekend. That followed a rally to defeat Boston University 23-20 after trailing 20-3.

In fact, Princeton is 11-2 overall, winner of six straight, and at 3-1 in the Ivy League assured of at least a tie for second place, behind national power Cornell. The Tigers host Rider Friday and then Penn Saturday afternoon.

At 3-1 in the league with one match left, Princeton is assured of its second winning league record since 1987. Princeton is in double figures in wins and will couple that with fewer than five losses, a combination the program last managed in 1981.

Princeton has had some success through the last decade individually, but it's been awhile since the team has had this much depth and success. It starts with the entire coaching staff, a group with successful backgrounds who have built the program from the ground up.

Ayres, especially, has an enthusiasm and optimism that is infectious. Even during the toughest times during his rebuilding project, Ayres has always been convinced that better days were ahead. It's been obvious in any conversation or interaction with him; he just oozes with positivity.

And now it's all starting to pay off.

Catching Cornell in Ivy League wrestling will never be easy. TB's sense is that Chris Ayres believes it's possible.

In the meantime, one of the best stories in Princeton Athletics is unfolding in Dillon Gym.

Princeton has a great history in wrestling, going back decades. The present is going pretty well also.

Princeton's wrestling revival hasn't been limited to just those two big comebacks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the wrestlers, Coach Ayres and his assistants! Congratulations, also, to the alumni who fought to keep wrestling at Princeton, supported it, and eventually endowed it. No other team at Princeton has traveled this road and we look forward to continued success!