Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Schedule For May

Phyllis Chase came home last week to find a group of long-time friends and co-workers outside of her house.

Phyllis spent a quarter century as the Princeton Athletics travel coordinator. These days, as she splits her time between Princeton and Florida, she has been battling cancer in typical Phyllis fashion, which is to say with a combination of strength and good humor.

As she came back to Princeton last week, a welcoming party was organized in her honor. And so it was that one morning, there were a bunch of people who work at Princeton, used to work at Princeton or simply know Phyllis who were waiting for her, with balloons, cards, hugs and good wishes.

Of course Phyllis was all smiles as she got out of the car. That's how she is, always with her smiles.

And the person who organized all this? Kim Meszaros, who is now the assistant to her third Ford Family Director of Athletics. Kim loves a celebration, and she never disappoints when she sets out to plan one.

Among her favorites are the send-offs, the ones where Princeton teams are leaving for NCAA events. She's been busy of late, planning a few as the women's tennis team, women's golf team and men's tennis team are all heading out for the postseason.

As May begins to move along, the Princeton Athletics schedule will have fewer and fewer events. The ones that still are to be played will all be huge.

Oh, and mercifully, today is May 5, which means there are 364 days until TigerBlog is saturated with "May the Fourth be with you" memes. TB has only seen one half of one Star Wars movie (the original, and it was the second half, because he and BrotherBlog got the time the movie started wrong), and he respects everyone who loves those movies. But the whole "May the Fourth" thing? Tedious.

Anyway, as TB was saying, once the schedule gets to May, the quantity decreases considerably. This weekend has as somewhere between five and eight events, depending on how the first ones go for three different teams.

That's not a big number. An average April weekend has 20 or more. Crossover season gets over 30.

Again, though, these are all championship events this weekend.

It starts tomorrow with the men's tennis team's NCAA match against Arizona in Cary, N.C., a match that would be followed by another one Saturday against the winner of the opening round match between North Carolina and Navy if the Tigers win.  

Princeton enters the match ranked 39th in the country. Arizona, the Pac 12 regular season champion for the first time in program history, is ranked 17th.

Another note about Arizona - the Wildcats have 11 players on their roster, and at least eight come from cold weather climates, including three from Sweden and one from Norway. 

The women's tennis team makes it NCAA debut Saturday at Virginia, where the Tigers meet Army-West Point at 10 am, followed by UVa and Youngstown State. The winners meet Sunday in the second round.

Army-West Point won the Patriot League tournament despite being the third seed. The Cadets are making their 16th NCAA appearance. For what it's worth, there are 17 players on the women's tennis roster at Army-West Point, and 12 are from warm weather climates.

While it's not an NCAA championship event, the men's and women's track and field teams will be at Yale for the Ivy League Heptagonal championships. You can read the women's preview HERE and the men's preview HERE.

The women have finished second in both the Heps cross country and Heps indoor track and field. The men have won both. Should the men win the outdoor title as well, it would mark the 10th time in league history that one school has won the cross country/track and field "Triple Crown." Oh, and it would also be Princeton's 10th time doing it.

On the women's side, it's been done three times, twice by Princeton and once by Harvard.

The men's track and field team has been doing historic things this year. It's already produced an NCAA indoor champion (Sondre Guttormsen in the pole vault) and a fifth-place team finish at the NCAA indoor championships, where every Princeton athlete earned first-team All-American honors.

The Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament will be the only event on the campus this weekend. It also starts tomorrow, with the semifinals that match Cornell and Yale at 4 and Princeton and Harvard at 7. The winners meet Sunday at noon, and the winner of that game gets the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton, the Ivy champion after going 7-0 in the regular season, is pretty much locked into an NCAA spot no matter what happens this weekend.

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