Thursday, March 3, 2016

On The Mat, On The Court

TigerBlog can guarantee you that there will be people who compete on Carril Court this weekend who will be heading to the NCAA championships.

He can also guarantee you that there will be others who compete there this weekend who may be heading to the NCAA championships, but then again may not.

And beyond that, he can guarantee you that there will be others who are not heading to the NCAA championships but will work incredibly hard to make sure those who are trying to get there have a venue in which to compete.

Princeton Athletics has a long history of saying "yes." As in, "you want to host this intercollegiate event? Yes. It'll happen."

It doesn't mean it's always easy. Take this weekend, for instance.

Princeton will be hosting the EIWA wrestling championships on Carril Court Saturday and Sunday. Of course, Princeton will also be hosting the women's basketball games against Harvard tomorrow night and Dartmouth Saturday, on the same court, the same exact space.

This is quite an undertaking.

There will be a basketball game tomorrow night. Then there will be wrestling all day Saturday, with four mats on the court. Then it'll be time to clear the mats off the Jadwin floor and get it ready for the next basketball game.

Then it'll time to move the mats back onto the court for Sunday's second day of the wrestling. Finally, when it's over, the mats come back off.

Whew. That's as big an effort as anyone who will be competing there.

Princeton last hosted the EIWA meet in 2012.

It last had an EIWA individual champion in 2003 (Greg Parker, who also won in 2002, when he was an NCAA runner-up) and last finished in the top five in 1978. Princeton is looking to change those to 2016.

In all, there will be 51 NCAA bids awarded to wrestlers who will be at Jadwin this weekend. There are different numbers of NCAA spots available depending on the weight class.

TigerBlog didn't realize this until he listened to the podcast that his colleague Craig Sachson did with Penn's athletic communications wrestling contact Chas Dorman. A rather laid-back man, Chas is very into wrestling. So is Craig.

The podcast is one element of Craig's lengthy, and in-depth, preview of the weekend's event. You can access it HERE.

Princeton sent five wrestlers to the NCAAs a year ago. That happened to be a program record.

What will this year bring?

In between sessions, there will be women's basketball tomorrow night at 7 against Harvard and Saturday at 7:30 against Dartmouth.

The game Saturday night will be senior night, with Princeton's five-member Class of 2016 honored.

TigerBlog would never have imagined that there would be a class at Princeton to rival the Class of 2013, especially with Niveen Rasheed in that class. The Class of 2013 won 96 games during its time at Princeton, a record for any Ivy women's basketball class at the time.

It didn't last long, though, as the Class of 2015 graduated with 98 wins. The Class of 2016 enters this weekend with 95 wins and three regular season games remaining.

Of course, there would be no record for the Class of 2015 had it not been for the Class of 2016. And if all of this begs the question of which class was the best, it's not worth asking.

It's all Princeton women's basketball.

This class, though, is extraordinary. There are five of them - Alex Wheatley, Michelle Miller, Annie Tarakchian, Amanda Berntsen and Taylor Williams.

They've combined for 4,402 career points. TigerBlog will add this one to the list of things to research at some point. Has any class ever scored more?

More than their numbers, they've been winners. That's for sure. They've won two Ivy titles. They've played in two NCAAs - winning the first NCAA game in program history - and they also have a WNIT appearance, which also included a win.

Last year they were key members of the greatest season in Ivy women's basketball history, the 31-1 run that included a 30-0 regular season.

And this weekend? None of that matters.

Princeton and Penn are tied for first in the league with three games left, the third of which is at Jadwin Tuesday between the two. Before that, though, there is Harvard and Dartmouth, neither of which is a gimme.

TigerBlog started out by saying that there will be NCAA qualifiers in Jadwin this weekend. Those will definitely come from wrestling.

They can mathematically come in women's basketball too, though it's unlikely.

But these are still huge games here this weekend, this very busy weekend, this weekend made possible by a group of people who work really hard to be able to say "yes" to events like the EIWA.

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