Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hammer Throw Is The New Steeplechase

Miss TigerBlog needed $5 for her middle school track and field team postseason party and another $5 for lunch money.

TigerBlog Jr. had a $10 bill, a $5 bill and five $1 bills, and so he traded that for a $20. MTB took the $5 and the five $1s and then said which of the following:
1) thank you
2) is this mine too, as she pointed to the $10 on the table.

If you guessed the first, then you're a tad naive. If you guessed the second, at least you can know that she did it without any hesitation. She didn't even flinch.

It reminded TigerBlog of the time that he was in the Des Moines, Iowa, airport with the Princeton men's basketball team. This would have been just before Christmas in 1995, when Princeton played at Iowa State's tournament, which he believes was called the Cyclone Classic.

Princeton lost a tough one to Iowa State in the first game, which was a semifinal in the tournament because it was set up for TV. During that game, Pete Carril got a technical foul for yelling "catch the ball, Stevie" at Steve Goodrich. Carril didn't curse, didn't even look at the refs. TB was sitting next to Carril on press row and he can vouch for the fact that it was one of the worst calls - or blatant examples of homerism - he's ever seen.

Princeton then came back and destroyed Nicholls State in the consolation game.

Anyway, when it was time to fly home, Carril and manager Miles Clark were discussing whether or not Miles had given enough of a tip to the guy who had helped with the bags. Miles assured Carril that he had, but Carril disagreed and gave Miles another $20 to give him.

Miles, in one motion, said "okay" as he was putting the bill into his pocket. It was like something out of Abbott and Costello, with Miles as Abbott.

That episode came back to mind when MTB tried to pocket the extra $10.

The $5 for the team party is fairly standard stuff these days. Every team, every sport, every season. There's no fighting it. Just keep giving out the money.

MTB is on the middle school track and field team. She runs the 100 or the 100 hurdles and a leg of the 4x100 relay. She's also done the long jump in a few meets.

The hurdles are the first event of each meet, followed by the 100. The 4x100 relay is near the end.

This means that at a normal meet, MTB will be on the track for one of those two races and then the relay, which is about an hour or so later. Or, if you don't want to do the math, it means that she's on the track for about 30 seconds over 90 minutes.

TB isn't sure his daughter really likes track and field competition as much as she likes the social aspect of co-ed middle school track.

The meets have the 100, 100 hurdles, 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 for the boys and girls. There are also two relays - the 4x100 and 4x400.

On the field side, there's a high jump, long jump and shot put.

There is no hammer throw, which for Princeton fans is the new steeplechase.

As an aside, TB wonders when that way of speaking became part of the lexicon. This is the new that. He guesses it was when someone first said "40 is the new 30," and it took off from there.

Back when Donn Cabral was winning an NCAA championship and reaching the Olympic finals, the 3,000-meter steeplechase was the event to see. Now that Julia Ratcliffe is beginning her assault on an NCAA title, hammer throw is the can't-miss moment.

Speaking of can't-miss stuff, check out the video on goprincetontigers.com about Ratcliffe

TigerBlog remembers when he first met Ratcliffe, after she had gotten off the 17-hour flight from her native New Zealand and first arrived at Princeton. Women's track and field coach Peter Farrell could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of how good she would be.

Now a sophomore, Ratcliffe has won nine hammer throw events this year, including most recently at the ECAC championships this past weekend. Her throws at the Ivy League Heptagonal championships earned how Outstanding Performer of the Meet honors.

TigerBlog isn't sure exactly where she stands nationally, though he knows she's the top-ranked hammer thrower in women's track and field right now. And that she's had the best 10 or so throws as she heads into the NCAA regionals next weekend and then the NCAA championships in early June.

The video is more about her odyssey to Princeton, how she ended up here, what she thinks of being so far from home, how much her teammates have helped her deal with being so far away.

There's also some training footage.

The hope is that it pays off with in Eugene next month. She was 11th last year at the NCAA championships.

This year, she has loftier goals.

Winning, for one.

No comments: