Thursday, January 2, 2020

Happy 2020

Happy New Year.

Welcome to 2020. Did you have a good New Years?

It's been 20 years since the year 2000 (the math wasn't too hard on that one). When TigerBlog was a kid, he used to look ahead to the year 2000 as some time that was so distant in the future that it couldn't even be processed.

As it got closer, there was a fear that Y2K would lead to meltdowns all over the world as software hadn't been programmed beyond 99 and computers wouldn't know the difference between 1900 and 2000 and therefore everything involved in computers would come to a disastrous halt. That, of course, never happened.

And now that was 20 years ago already. Instead of being futuristic, the year 2000 seems almost nostalgic at this point.

The current year of 2020 takes the world into a new decade. TB hopes that you checked out the Princeton Athletics decade review stories from way back in 2019.

If you missed those, you can see them HERE and HERE.

Those two stories feature what was selected as the top event and top athlete for every team for the past decade. They also included an opportunity for fans to email in their thoughts and offer up alternative answers.

Since TB received not a single email of a differing opinion, he'll assume that the two lists are met with 100 percent universal approval. Or that he hasn't gotten any emails yet.

He did receive feedback from several people asking what in his opinion the No. 1 event and who the top athletes were overall for the decade.

The answer, again, is that it's up to everyone to make their own decisions.

One thing TB insisted on for the top athlete story was that only one athlete per sport be chosen. There were some sports were that was simple to do. There were others were it was almost impossible - but it was done anyway.

If you're asking him to name the top athletes of the last decade, though, he's going to have to include multiple athletes from several sports.

Take the top women's athletes.

The toughest choice was probably in women's basketball, where a strong case could be made for both Niveen Rasheed and Bella Alarie. In the end Niveen was the choice (because one of them had to be), but TB would put both of them in the top five female athletes at Princeton this past decade.

Niveen was the cornerstone of the women's basketball dynasty that saw a program that had never been the NCAA tournament before her arrival go all four of her years and then four more times for the rest of the decade. If you didn't get to see her play, you missed on someone very special.

If Bella Alarie can be described as "dominant," then Niveen was best described as "ferocious." However you describe them, they are two of the best athletes ever to play in the Ivy League, let alone for Princeton in the last 10 years.

Where would TB rank them?

Well, two and three actually.

Who's No. 1? That would have to be Ashleigh Johnson in TB's opinion.

Johnson has spent much of the last five years as the best women's water polo player in the world. She's an Olympic gold medalist, and she joined Bill Bradley as the only Princeton athletes ever to win Olympic gold and then come back to play for Princeton.

If you never saw her play, she was jaw-droppingly impressive. Even if, like TB, you knew little about water polo, it was obvious you were watching someone who does not come along very often, if ever again.

The rest of the top 10? How about Julia Ratcliffe at No. 4 (she had the 134 best hammer throws in Ivy history and won an NCAA championship) and Kathleen Sharkey at No. 5 (NCAA field hockey champion and then U.S. Olympian).

The rest of the top 10:
10. Eliza Stone, women's fencing
9. Olivia Hompe, women's lacrosse
8. Kelly Shon, women's golf
7. Kelsey Koelzer, women's hockey
6. Julia Reinprecht, field hockey

And the men?

The two toughest selections here were men's hockey (Ryan Kuffner by the slightest edge of Max Veronneau) and men's lacrosse (Michael Sowers similarly over Tom Schreiber).

Where do those four rank? Definitely in the top 10. So does Jesper Horsted, who wasn't the top baseball or football player but was close on both counts.

What is that top 10?


How about:

10. Mike Ford, baseball
9. Thomas Sanner, men's soccer
8. Max Veronneau, men's hockey
7. Matthew Kolodzik, wrestling
6. Ryan Kuffner, men's hockey
5. Tom Schreiber, men's lacrosse
4. Jesper Horsted, football/baseball
3. Michael Sowers, men's lacrosse
2. John Lovett, football

And No. 1?

That would be NCAA steeplechase champion and two-time Olympic finalist Donn Cabral.

Again, according to TB at least. Feel free to disagree.

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