July 18, 2007: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By pitching like an All-Star for the San Diego Padres, Chris Young ’02 continues to be a pitchman for Princeton baseball. And more major-league alumni could be on the way, according to coach Scott Bradley. “I think we’ll have at least three more players play in the majors,” Bradley said of the current crop of alumni in the minor leagues, “and there is an outside chance for five or six.”
Perennial powerhouse programs like Vanderbilt, Stanford, and Rice can sell prestigious educations, along with warmer weather and longer schedules, to the student-athletes Princeton covets. But Young’s success and Bradley’s nine years as a major-league catcher are valuable recruiting tools as well.
Former Tigers playing pro baseball — including pitcher Ross Ohlendorf ’05 (New York Yankees) in Triple-A and pitcher Tim Lahey ’04 (Minnesota Twins) and outfielder Will Venable ’05 (Padres) in Double-A — help Princeton attract high school players with professional aspirations.
“Recruits saw Chris had been drafted high [third round], and that made it easier when we talked to somebody like Ohlendorf, who had other options besides Princeton,” Bradley said. “He didn’t have to give up other dreams to get the best education in the world.”
Venable is a former Tiger basketball player who took advantage of the Ivy League’s short baseball season to play two sports on campus, as did B.J. Szymanski ’06, an outfielder for Cincinnati’s High-A affiliate at Sara-sota who played football at Princeton.
“We have to find athletes who played multiple sports and perhaps didn’t go to high-level [recruiting] showcases, or maybe were slow developers,” Bradley said. “The University of Texas wanted Ohlendorf [both parents work for the school], but he was going to have to wait to see the mound there. He could come to Princeton and pitch significant innings right away.”
Ohlendorf, the key Yankee acquisition in the team’s trade of Randy Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks last winter, starred in three seasons at Princeton. This year, he has been slowed by hamstring and back injuries, but he remains one step away from joining Young in the majors.
Lahey was Ohlendorf’s catcher at Princeton, but Bradley, noticing his strong arm, sent him to the pros with instructions not to allow himself to be cut without a pitching tryout. Lahey took Bradley’s advice in his second pro season, when the Twins chose two catchers ahead of him for their Low-A roster, and he made a strong impression on the mound.
Two years later, Lahey is pitching in relief at AA New Britain (Conn.) with a fastball that has put him on the fast track — an unexpected career path for someone who had stopped pitching at age 11. “He has a major-league fastball and slider and just needs time and experience to get command of them,” said Gary Lucas, the New Britain pitching coach.
Other Tigers are trying to find their way back to top form. Szymanski, drafted in the second round by the Reds in 2004, has had two surgeries on his right knee that have caused him to give up switch-hitting, but he came on strong in May and early June, as did Sarasota teammate Thomas Pauly ’04. Pauly, a second-round pick in 2003 and once the Reds’ minor-league pitcher of the year, is coming back from shoulder surgery.
Pauly, a chemical engineering graduate, could easily “turn the page” and move on to his next career, Bradley said, but he loves baseball. The same goes for promising pitchers Brian Kappel ’05, who has improved his breaking pitches in Low-A for the Seattle Mariners, and Erik Stiller ’06, whose fastball has topped 94 miles per hour in High-A for the Cleveland Indians. Princeton’s latest draft choice, third baseman Sal Iacono ’07, joined the Houston Astros’ Single-A affiliate in Troy, N.Y., in June.
Lahey, who divided his energies between baseball and basketball in high school, said the credit for Princeton’s pro baseball success should go to Bradley. “He brings in guys like me who hadn’t been playing for long and need coaching,” Lahey said. “He got me into pro ball.”
Jay Greenberg is a sports columnist at The New York Post.
In eight years as a player and assistant coach for the Dartmouth women’s basketball team, Courtney Banghart reached the NCAA Tournament four times, including two seasons in which the Big Green beat co-champion Princeton in a postseason showdown. Now, as Princeton’s new head coach, Banghart hopes to reverse history and lead the Tigers to their first tournament bid.
Athletics director Gary Walters ’67, who introduced Banghart May 31, said the hire was “déjà vu,” coming just over a month after Sydney Johnson ’97 was named head coach of men’s basketball. Like Johnson, Banghart was a team captain and two-time Ivy champion as an undergrad who became an assistant coach for a successful program a few years after graduation.
Since 2003, Banghart has worked under Chris Wielgus, the winner of 10 Ivy titles in her 22 seasons at Dartmouth. “[Wielgus] had given me a lot of freedom and prepared me well for this position,” she said. “Now you go from offering suggestions to making decisions.”
Banghart takes over for Richard Barron, who left Princeton to become associate head coach at Baylor. Barron’s Tigers shared the Ivy championship with Brown and Dartmouth in 2005–06 before sliding to fourth place with a 13–15 overall record last season.
While Banghart’s address has changed, she does not expect much of a difference in her recruiting routes, which seem to overlap for all Ivy coaches. “If you go to a gym and they’re not all there, you think, ‘I must be in the wrong place,’” she joked. But Banghart has added one new line to her pitch: “How do you feel about orange and black?”
Undefeated Wisconsin was the crew to beat in the women’s lightweight division of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships June 2, and Princeton rowed well enough to edge the Badgers by a second in the grand final. But the Tigers had to settle for second place, as Bucknell pulled away for a surprising national title victory.
The men’s heavyweight varsity eight also reached its grand final at the IRA regatta, finishing in sixth place, while the men’s lightweight varsity eight won the petite final and settled for seventh place overall.
Princeton’s open women’s crew chased national gold at the NCAA Champion-ships in Oak Ridge, Tenn., May 25–27. The Tigers earned spots in the grand finals of the varsity eight and the varsity four and finished eighth in the overall team standings.
Former MEN’S HOCKEY standout George Parros ’03 and his Anaheim Ducks teammates won the Stanley Cup June 6, defeating the Ottawa Senators four games to one. Parros, who has played two seasons in the NHL, is the first Princetonian to have his name etched on hockey’s most famous trophy.
Five athletes shared top honors at the Princeton Varsity Club’s SENIOR AWARDS banquet May 31. Jeff Terrell (football) and Peter Trombino (men’s lacrosse) were recipients of the Roper Trophy, given annually to Princeton’s top male athletes. Elyse Colgan (women’s water polo), Kathleen Miller (women’s lacrosse), and Claire Rein-Weston (women’s squash) were honored with the Von Kienbusch Award for the top female athletes. Molecular biology major Jon Charlesworth (men’s cross country and track) won the Class of 1916 Cup as the varsity letter winner with the highest academic standing. Dustin Kahler (men’s soccer), Caitlin Reimers (women’s lacrosse), Brig Walker (football), and Sandra Zaeh (women’s swimming) shared the Art Lane Award for selfless contribution to sport and society.
WRESTLING alumnus Michael Novogratz ’87 was inducted in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum’s Hall of Outstanding Americans in Stillwater, Okla., June 2. Novogratz, a co-president of Fortress Investment Group, has helped to raise more than $2 million for a program that develops wrestling programs at New York City secondary schools.
MEN’S TRACK AND FIELD standout David Nightingale ’08 completed a three-season sweep of All-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., June 8. Nightingale also was named an All-American in cross country and in the indoor mile. Teammates Andrew Park ’07 (pole vault) and Justin Frick ’10 (high jump) also competed at the NCAA meet. In WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD, Catha Mullen ’07 finished her career with a 10th-place showing in the NCAA 5,000-meter final.
Trina Salcido was named head coach of the SOFTBALL team June 19. Salcido, an assistant coach at Princeton since 2005, helped the Tigers win Ivy League titles in 2005 and 2006.