Friday, June 10, 2022

Back On Track

Congratulations to Kate Joyce on earning first-team All-American honors in the javelin last night at the NCAA championships. 

Joyce was in first place for a while before finishing sixth as a sophomore in her first NCAA appearance. You can read more about her HERE.

TigerBlog wrote yesterday about Sondre Guttormsen's win in the men's pole vault at the NCAA championships.

One thing that he didn't do as he watched the four hours of competition Wednesday night was compare it to the indoor championship, also won by Guttormsen. As it turns out, they were pretty closely aligned.

Guttormsen won both of them. His brother Simen finished fourth in both. 

Sondre's winning vault indoors was 18-10 1/4. His winning vault outdoors? Also 18-10 1/4. Clayton Fritsch of Sam Houston finished second outdoors and third indoors, both at 18-8 1/4. There were eight vaulters who finished in the top nine of both events. TB never would have guessed they'd be so similar.

Speaking of history,  prior to Guttormsen's win, Princeton men had three NCAA outdoor champions in its history (Julia Ratcliffe won the 2014 hammer throw for the women): William Bonthron in the 1934 mile, Tora Harris in the 2002 high jump and Donn Cabral in the 2012 steeplechase. There are connections of all three of those in this year's competition, continuing tonight.

First, there were Guttormsen. His win in the pole vault connected him and Harris, who won the high jump indoors and outdoors in 2002. As for the other two, there are Princeton runners hoping to match their championships in tonight's events. 

In the steeplechase, Ed Trippas runs tonight after finishing second in his heat in Wednesday's semifinal. Trippas will run at 9:24 Eastern.

The steeplechase has been a very Princetonian event in recent times, at both the NCAA and Olympic level. The Tigers had two Olympic steeplechasers, Lizzie Bird of Great Britain and, of course, Trippas, an Australian. 

Cabral has been the best of all of them. He wasn't showy at all as a competitor, but he ran with ferocity, that's for sure. The result was a meteoric rise up the ranks of American steeplechasers, going from a relative newcomer to the event to being the NCAA champion in 2012 to being an Olympian and then Olympic finalist later that year. He repeated the last two of those accomplishments four years later. 

Tonight Trippas looks to add to the Princeton steeplechase legacy. About 20 minutes before Trippas runs, Sam Ellis will run in the 1,500 final after having the third-best qualifying time. 

Princeton will also be represented tonight in the 800 file at 10:14 with Sam Rodman. The night kicks off for Princeton with Jeffrey Hollis in the high jump final at 8:32 and Robbie Otal in the discus three minutes later.

When it comes to the 1,500, the greatest Princeton has had is either Bonthron or Craig Masback, a world class middle distance man in the 1980s. Fifty years before that, Bonthron had a great rivalry with a Kansas runner from that era named Glenn Cunningham, who won the 1932 and 1933 NCAA mile race. Back in the 1930s, the mile was THE race, and competitors were still chasing the thought-to-be-impossible four-minute mile that would finally be beaten 20 years later.

Bonthron had a famous race at Princeton in 1933, when he set the American record and broke the existing world record in the mile in 4:08.7, only he came in second in the race to New Zealand runner Jack Lovelock, who ran a 4:07.6. 

Over the course of three weeks in June, Bonthron and Cunningham went head-to-head three times, as Cunningham set a new mile record in 4:06.7 in their first matchup, Bonthron came back and won the NCAA mile the following weekend in 4:08.9 and then Bonthron won the national championship in the 1,500 the weekend after that, setting a world record of 3:48.8 that would stand for two years.

Bonthron would not be able to reach the Olympics in 1936, finishing fourth at the Trials. Cunningham would win silver that year in the 1,500.

In case you're wondering, the world records now in the mile and 1,500 are 3:43.13 and 3:26.00, both held by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj.

Anyway, that's a history lesson on Princeton's three men's indoor champions prior to 2022, and a look at the way that history connects to the present. 

Now it's time for one more evening of Princeton men's track and field. This will be the final day of the 2021-22 athletic calendar for Princeton.

It seems fitting that the men's track and field team closes the curtain, after all the history that this team has made so far this year.

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