Friday, June 13, 2014

Let The Games Begin

Unless TigerBlog is reading the schedule wrong - something that is a distinct possibility - then Princeton does not have anyone competing today at the NCAA track and field championships.

Princeton does have a Roper Trophy from each of the last two years who will compete tomorrow,  though only one in orange and black. Damon McLean goes after another All-America honor in the triple jump, and Peter Callahan - part of the 2013 NCAA indoor distance medley relay championship team - will run in the 1,500 final for New Mexico, where he is in grad school and where he is using his final year of eligibility.

So far, it's been a relatively successful few days in Oregon for the Tigers. Actually, way more than relatively, as in one national champion and three other All-Americas to this point.

With the end of the NCAA championships tomorrow, the final athletic events of the 2013-14 academic year will be over. It'll be a long wait until the first ones of 2014-15, with soccer, field hockey and women's volleyball on Sept 5, TB believes.

Of course, there will be a new Ford Family Director of Athletics the next time Princeton plays. By then, Mollie Marcoux will be the boss.

The change at the top will be the big story for Princeton Athletics in 2013-14. The on-field highlights will include the Ivy League football championship (not to mention the record-setting offense that helped make it possible) and the Ivy women's tennis championship (and win over Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA tournament almost unfathomable near-miss against Alabama in the second round).

When the story of 2013-14 is told, though, Julia Ratcliffe's name will be all over it.

At Jadwin Gym yesterday, Ratcliffe's NCAA hammer throw championship was the big topic of conversation. It wasn't simply in the context of how she won and became Princeton's first women's track and field NCAA champion, and this from a program that has had multiple Olympians.

It's that she did so with the knowledge that if she didn't win, then a 42-year-old streak would not have turned 43.

Maybe she didn't really have that streak - Princeton's streak of having at least one team or individual national champion - on her mind at all. TigerBlog has no idea. What he does know is that this was asking a lot of Ratcliffe, a sophomore. And she came through in a big way.

TigerBlog spoke about Ratcliffe yesterday, and it led to this comment:
Does the NCAA track this streak? If so, where does it rank overall when compared to other schools' streaks?

It's a pretty good question. TB isn't sure of anyone who tracks this sort of thing, but hey, 43 years is a long, long time for something like this.

Anyway, even with the end of the track and field championships, there will still be intense athletic competition at Princeton in the very near future.

Everywhere on campus and throughout Mercer County are signs of what is to come next week, as Special Olympics USA Games come to the area (according to the organization, the word "the" should be used as little as possible before "Special Olympics").

There will be events all over the county, including at Princeton University. It's been a great deal of work for, among others, Karen Malec and Greg Paczkowski of the Department of Athletics.

There will also be an army of volunteers from the University and from elsewhere, all working long hours to make the Games the best they can be and to give those who are competing and coaching the best experience possible.

TigerBlog will be one of the volunteers.

To be honest, he has no idea what to expect. His role is as a public address announcer, and he will be working at events at Rider and at Lawrenceville Prep.

He's definitely looking forward to it. He's heard nothing but great things from people about Special Olympics, and those who have volunteered talk about it as a wildly inspirational event.

TigerBlog will get a first-hand look beginning Monday.

Princeton Athletics will have ended by then for 2013-14.

Athletics at Princeton will continue, with a new group of athletes who are currently flocking to Mercer County, ready to have their own moment in the sun.

No comments: