Monday, May 9, 2016

Let Me Tell You A Story

Cecilia Barowski was in third place when she took the baton on Weaver Track yesterday in the 4x400 relay, the final event of the meet.

TigerBlog, watching from the concourse, had two thoughts.

First, he thought, this was over. Barowski was going to catch both runners ahead of her, and Princeton would win the race.

Second, he thought, this is it. This is the last lap, the last 400 meters, of the last Heps for Peter Farrell as the head coach of women's track and field at Princeton.

As Barowski caught up and then took the lead, TigerBlog's next thought was actually a question. If you added every athlete in every event who competed for Farrell at Heps since 1977, how many miles of racing would you have?

Thousands, TB presumes.

After all, you're talking 39 years worth of Heps. With cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field, that's 117 Heps for Farrell.

Before TigerBlog could come up with a figure, his attention was diverted. Barowski had zoomed to the front, and she won going away, bringing Princeton home by nearly a second.

It was the end of a day that was sunny and windy, one of those days where if you stood in the shade you were cold and in the sun you were hot. When it finally was over, a party of sorts broke out.

It's rare that the team that comes in second celebrates to the extent that the Princeton women did, but that's how it worked out on the grass infield. There were chants of "Peter, Peter," mixed with pictures and videos and hugs and smiles.

Farrell's brother Tom, an Olympic bronze medalist, was among those there.

TigerBlog has already written about Peter Farrell since he announced this would be the last year for him as the only head coach of Princeton women's track and field. You can read it HERE, though odds are good you've already read it, since it's the most read entry in TigerBlog history.

There's a difference, though, in writing about something that is coming and standing there watching it as it unfolds.

This weekend wasn't end of Farrell's career. Not quite.

In fact, it wasn't even the end of his home career. Princeton will host the IC4A and ECAC this coming weekend.

And then there is the NCAA regional, which will be the last weekend of May in Florida. And the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., in June.

Peter was honored after the meet yesterday with a gift and a nice tribute, but it was hard to hear what was being said, since the party on the infield sort of took over. This was exactly what Farrell didn't want, anything farewell tour-ish, but too bad.

Someone with his career and persona has to accept that those from his team and from the teams against whom he has competed for so long will want to recognize this. And so that's what happened.

As for the meet itself, Princeton's men and women both finished second, behind Cornell on the men's side and Harvard on the women's side. There were success stories for both teams.

On the men's side, there was Greg Leeper, who won the 400 meter hurdles. TigerBlog didn't see the race, but he heard the end as he walked toward the stadium.

If you want the complete recap of the men's Heps, click HERE.

If you want the complete recap of the women's Heps, click HERE.

If you've never been to a Heps, it's just non-stop motion, as one event blends in to another event, often with overlap of one event and another. There are runners who blaze down the straightaway, going right past jumpers who pause before beginning down their own runway, only in the other direction.

There is so much going on at all times. Look across the field, and there's something unique about each person you see.

For TigerBlog, though, this Heps was about Peter Farrell.

It's hard to imagine a Heps without him there. Coaching track and field is a little different in that the coaches can take time away to have a conversation during the event, something that doesn't work in basketball or football or most sports.

TigerBlog has been a bunch of Heps events, not as many as Farrell, but a bunch. He's talked to Farrell at each of them, and it's always sort of interesting to see how a coach in the middle of a league championship event feels.

TB wrote this after Heps cross country this past fall:
Before the race, TigerBlog saw Princeton coach Peter Farrell and asked him if he was nervous. Farrell's response was "you don't have to tell me it's race day." He was quoting someone. TigerBlog isn't sure if it was a real person or a fictional character. Either way, TB is also not sure if Farrell was nervous.

Yeah, that's about right.

 TigerBlog doesn't think Farrell was nervous yesterday. He was, possibly, anxious about how this was his last Heps. He was also happy with the way his team played.

After the hugs and the presents and the pictures, Peter was asked to do an interview. As he walked away, he said to the reporter: "let me tell you a story."

TB couldn't hear what Peter was saying, but whatever his story was, it was a long one. And, if TB had to guess, a funny one.

Maybe at some point Peter thought to himself that his days of doing these kinds of things were dwindling, but TB doubts it.

Nah. Peter just had a funny story to tell, so he told it. That's how he is.

This was his day. This was his environment.

Heps wll be there next year. It won't be the same without Peter Farrell.

No comments: