Friday, October 30, 2015

Ivy Title Time

The Office of Athletic Communications will be relocating from its current perch on the Jadwin Gym balcony to E level, downstairs, next to the wrestling room.

TigerBlog has a great view out of his window of Weaver Track and Princeton Stadium. He's thinking of taking a nice panoramic picture of it and then hanging it on the wall of his new office, from which the outside will no longer be readily available.

Besides daylight, TigerBlog will also miss his neighbors in what used to be the mailroom. Chessie Jackson, the volunteer assistant women's basketball coach, shares that office with Mike Henderson, the director of track and field operations.

The two were sort of thrown together, and it seemed like it took them awhile until either one spoke to the other. At some point, it became apparent to TigerBlog - and he assumes the two of them - that they had something in common: a dry sense of humor. With some healthy sarcasm mixed in.

So now, the room next door is usually good for a laugh or two, if only for another two weeks or so, before TB moves downstairs.

Henderson will duck his head into TB's office a few times a day with something clever and understated. You can't really ask for more out of a neighbor.

It was actually two days ago that Henderson came in with a picture and a text message. The message said: "Think there's a place for it on TigerBlog or anything like that?"

Now this would get TB's attention regardless of who sent it. The fact that it came from none other than Donn Cabral was ever better.

TigerBlog has only talked to Cabral twice, but he is a huge fan. How could he not be?

Cabral is a former NCAA champion and Olympic finalist in the steeplechase. He hopes to repeat the second of those next year in Rio, where he will be looking to improve on his eighth-place finish in the London Olympics of 2012.

TigerBlog could see Cabral's workouts on the track in the spring when he was here, and they were nearly as impressive as watching him run. TB's favorite moment of seeing Cabral compete in person was at the 2010 Heps cross country championships, where Cabral destroyed the field and seemed completely unfazed by having run the treacherous Van Cortlandt Park course as he soared to the finish.

So if Donn Cabral wants a picture on TigerBlog, he has a good chance of getting it. And here it is:

The picture is of four Princetonians at the World Championships in Beijing last summer. Along with Cabral, there is Craig Masback ’77, Amadeus Mason ’89 and Carrie Dimoff ’05.

There will be at least two Ivy League championships awarded this weekend, and as many as four. And two others could go a long way towards being decided, though cannot mathematically be clinched. Those two would be football and men's soccer, where Harvard and Dartmouth are tied for first and meet in both in Cambridge.

The two Ivy titles that will definitely be decided are the men's and women's cross country championships, which will be returning to Van Cortlandt Park for the first time since Cabral won there in 2010. TigerBlog will be there too, as Heps cross country could be his favorite annual Ivy League event that doesn't have the word "lacrosse" in it.

The men's race is at 11, and the women's race is at noon. In the reconfigured world of Van Cortlandt, the men will race eight kilometers instead of five miles and the women will go 6K instead of 5K.

Princeton is the highest ranked among the women's teams in the league. Both races figure to be competitive.

Is that not enough insight for you? Click HERE for the men's preview and HERE for the women's preview.

The other two Ivy titles that could be decided this weekend are in field hockey and women's soccer, and in both, Princeton is the team that could be doing the deciding.

Princeton hosts Cornell at noon in field hockey and women's soccer at 1 (and football at 3:30 and men's soccer at 4). Admission to the two soccer games and field hockey game is free.

The field hockey field and soccer field are right next to each other, so you can see both title chases within an easy walk.

It's simple for both, but even simpler for women's soccer.

Princeton, after its 2-1 win over Harvard last weekend, is 5-0-0 in the league in women's soccer, with games against Cornell and Penn remaining. Other than Harvard, who is now 4-1-0, every other team in the league has been mathematically eliminated.

Should Princeton beat either Cornell or Penn, it would be headed to the NCAA tournament with the Ivy League's automatic bid, and it would be assured of no worse than a tie for the league championship. The same would apply if Harvard were to lose either of its final two games, to Dartmouth or Yale.

Of course, there are ties in soccer, and they all factor in to different possible outcomes. For instance, two Princeton ties and two Harvard wins, and Harvard would win the championship and automatic bid.

But Princeton won't have to worry about any of that with a win. Or a Harvard loss.

As in women's soccer,Princeton is also 5-0, also with games left against Cornell and Penn, in field hockey. The big difference is that both Cornell and Penn are 4-1, and so Princeton would clinch at least a share of the league title with a win in one game but not necessarily the NCAA tournament bid. Wins in both games, or a Princeton win in one game and a loss by the team that beats Princeton in the other game, would also send the Tigers to the tournament.

Again, win and don't worry about any of that.

The Heps meet will crown the first of 33 Ivy League championships for the 2015-16 academic year. In case you lost track, Princeton has won 438 Ivy League titles all-time, by far the most of any Ivy school and nearly one-quarter of all those that have been won through the years.

Just saying.

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