Friday, July 30, 2021

Princeton Proud

TigerBlog had one overriding emotion as he watched Ed Trippas run the steeplechase at the Olympic Games yesterday.


How can you not be proud to be at a place that can produce that level of athlete while at the same time not compromising on its academic integrity? How could you not feel pride in a place that enables its athletes to achieve at the highest level possible. 

That Trippas did not advance to the steeplechase final hardly mattered. He gave, in Pete Carril's words, "a good account of himself." He also very much gave the appearance of being someone who is not yet through on the international stage, let alone on the Princeton stage.

Trippas is Australian. He finished 11th in his heat, which had 15 runners in it. 

His time was 8:29.90, which was 10 seconds off the pace he ran to qualify for the Olympics in the first place. TB knows enough to know that comparing times is a difficult thing to do, since all races tend to pace themselves differently.

Still, his time of 8:29.90 would have been good enough to earn him third place at the NCAA championships this past May, when the winning time was 8:28.20. Trippas, who begins his Princeton cross country season in a few weeks, will be very much in the running, as it were, for that steeplechase title next spring.

Will he be back in the Olympics in three years? Is there any reason to think otherwise? 

And again, as TB said to begin with, it was just such a great feeling to watch him compete on that level. It's the same feeling that every Princeton fan has to have been feeling all week as the 18 Princeton athletes in Tokyo have been doing their thing.

It's been extraordinary to watch them, just as it is in every Olympic Games.

Trippas did not win a medal this time. Tom George, a member of the Class of 2018, did win a medal, a bronze in the men's heavyweight 8 rowing final with Great Britain.

As you probably know, Princeton was represented by three alums in that six-boat race, and the three alums competed with three different countries. 

George, rowing in the third seat, and the British boat finished with a time of 5:25.73. The UK squad was in second at the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meter marks before finishing third.

The other two Princetonians in the race were Nick Mead, Class of 2017, who rowed with the American boat that finished fourth, one full second behind the Brits. Tim Masters, Class of 2015, and the Australians finished sixth.

George became the second Princeton men's rowing alum to win a bronze medal in two days, following Fred Vystavel, who came in third in the Danish pairs boat. Vystavel was in the Class of 2016.

So far George and Vystavel are the two Princetonians to have won medals. There are still others competing, and it's very, very likely that Ashleigh Johnson will win a medal with the U.S. women's water polo team, even after the loss to Hungary in group play. 

Johnson and the Americans played the Russian Olympic Committee team overnight. The women's quarterfinals begin Monday.

Princeton also has three other athletes who compete today. Sondre Guttormsen, who will be a sophomore this year, goes in the first round of the men's pole vault, beginning at 8:40 pm Eastern. Guttormsen is on the Norwegian team. Nathan Crumpton runs for American Somoa in the 100 meters later tonight as well.

Elize Stone fences for the U.S. team in the women's team saber competition. That begins at 9 pm tonight, whicih is 10 am Saturday in Tokyo. 

It's great to see the Princeton athletes who win medals. There have now been 61 medals won by Princeton athletes all-time at the Olympics.

More than that, though, it's about what TB started with today. It's about an institution that is about excellence from top to bottom, in everything it does. It's about an extraordinary group of young people who have worked so hard to pursue their Olympic dreams and now they are living them out, having done all of this while competing academically with the same sort of success. 

If that doesn't make you Princeton Proud, then what will?

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