Wednesday, June 1, 2022

More Happy Tigers

TigerBlog wrote about Jesse Marsch and the Princeton women's open rowing team yesterday, and then something dawned on him while he was out on his bike in the afternoon.

Marsch, the Leeds United coach in the English Premier League, and the Princeton women's open both had weekends to celebrate, and yet they were sort of inverse celebrations, if such a thing exists.

For Marsch and his team, the celebration was avoiding relegation. For the Princeton women, it was finishing with a bronze medal at the NCAA championships. 

In other words, one was celebrating finishing in the top three, and the other was celebrating avoiding the bottom three. TB thought about going back to rewrite what he wrote yesterday to say that, but by then it was too late, since most of the people who were going to read probably already had.

Besides, with the theme of happy Tigers from yesterday, it was worth mentioning them again. And, while he's at it, there are still more Tigers who are happy to still be competing, even as May has turned to June, which it has done today.

The end of the men's lacrosse team's run and the NCAA women's rowing championships crossed two more teams off the list of those who are still competing. There are now five remaining for the 2021-22 academic year.

There are the IRA rowing championships this Friday through Sunday, which will see the men's lightweight and heavyweight crews and the women's lightweights compete on Mercer Lake for national titles. By the way, today is already Wednesday, as opposed to Tuesday, after yesterday felt all day like it was Monday.

The women's lightweight rowers are the No. 1 ranked team in the country, as well as the defending IRA champion. The Tigers win last year was a perfect way to come back from the layoff for Covid and to cap off the celebration of the 50th year of women's athletics at Princeton.

Princeton's lightweight women most recently have won the Eastern Sprints and then beat a few open boats to take the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia. The heavyweight men were third at Eastern Sprints, and the lightweight men were fifth. 

If you've never been to an IRA championship event, it's definitely worth attending, with boats and rowers everywhere. Mercer Lake also is a great spot to see the racing, as it's a fairly wide open few of the entire 2,000 meters.

The last time TB was there, he stood near the midway point. It's pretty wild — and intense — to see the boats come into view and go by as the finish looms ahead of them. You have to be in absolutely ridiculous shape to be a rower, and that means physical and mental shape.

The rowers will finish their seasons close to home. The track and field runners who qualified for the NCAA championships will do so on the other side of the country.

The NCAA regionals in track and field were held this past weekend in Indiana, and Princeton will be sending 18 athletes to the championships, at historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. Hayward Field, which is pretty much the most revered site in American track and field, dates back to 1921, though the current facility was torn down and rebuilt only two years ago.

Just like the stadium itself, the Princeton track and field program has taken something traditionally venerated and improved upon it recently. The current state of the program, particularly on the men's side, is nothing short of amazing.

In fact, Princeton will be sending 16 men to Eugene, this after the Tigers finished fifth in the country in the indoor championships this past winter, with all eight Princeton competitors' earning first-team All-American honors. 

The women will be represented by Kate Joyce in the javelin and Caroline Timm in the 1,500 meters. The men? They have so many going that it's easier just to link to the full recaps of the regionals, which you can see HERE and HERE.

TB has never been to the NCAA track and field championships, though those who have talk about just how incredible an experience it is. The championships this year run from June 8-11, and (and TB) will have full coverage of them.

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