November 8, 2000
boats have a Princeton flavor
Matt Golden's From
the Cheap Seats column
boats have a Princeton flavor
If you are a gymnast
with Olympic aspirations, you pack your bags and head to Bela Karolyi's
Texas training center to pursue your dream. But if rowing is your
sport, then you make your way to Lake Carnegie. The picturesque
waters of Princeton University have increasingly become home to
many of the world's top rowers.
Chris Ahrens '98, who
served as stroke for the U.S. men's eight during the recent summer
Olympics in Sydney, says, "For many years, Princeton didn't
have much representation on the national teams. Now, it seems as
if every national team is influenced by Princeton. A lot of the
credit [goes] to the coaches and the university. The relationship
between the Princeton coaches and national coaches has really benefited
both programs. And without the support of the university, we wouldn't
have gotten anywhere. Allowing us to use Lake Carnegie and their
facilities to train enabled us to prepare."
Eight Princeton students
and alumni made the trip Down Under to compete in rowing events
at this year's games, while two Princeton University coaches guided
teams. Ahrens and Tom Welsh '99 were members of the American men's
eight crew, a team that had won three consecutive world championships
entering the Olympics. That squad was coached by Mike Teti, a four-time
Olympic rower who spent eight years as the Princeton freshman coach
before taking the top U.S. Olympic job. His brother, Paul Teti '01,
competed for the lightweight four team, which was coached by Princeton
crew's head coach, Curtis Jordan. Princeton graduates Kevin Cotter
'96 and Sean Kamman '98 were U.S. alternates.
Two of the rowers in
the Canadian men's eight boat were Morgan Crooks '96 and current
Tiger Tom Hershmiller '01. The U.S. women's eight boat was stroked
by Lianne Bennion-Nelson '95, who was denied a seat on the 1996
Olympic team, but battled four years later to earn her share of
the Olympic experience.
Ahrens said of the games,
"Initially, it was just exciting to be around all the American
athletes. To walk in that stadium with 120,000 people going nuts
was a huge thrill."
For Ahrens and Welsh,
the trip was not simply about savoring the experience, but about
winning. The Americans were favored to strike gold. Expectations
were high, but the competition was also fierce. Great Britain, Romania,
Russia, Germany, and the Australians all had legitimate shots to
dethrone the U.S.
From the outset, the
men's eight crew was concerned about its times. They weren't racing
at the speed they had in the past. In their preliminary heat, they
finished second behind the Croatians with a time of 5:35.70. Failing
to win the heat outright forced the Americans to compete in the
repechage, where they had to finish first or second to advance to
the final race. They defeated Romania in a photo finish with a time
of 5:43.22. They moved onto the finals, but knew it would be a long
shot to win considering the times they were producing.
in the repechage took a lot out of us," said Ahrens. "It
was probably the hardest I'd ever raced in my life. We realized
we were in trouble heading into the finals and continued to try
to make some technical changes to pull us out of our slump."
Unfortunately, it was
not meant to be. The U.S. men's eight finished fifth behind Great
Britain (gold), Australia (silver), Croatia (bronze), and Italy.
The Americans were disappointed with their finish. "It was
frustrating," said Ahrens. "We had a group of people that
had a real opportunity. We could point to a variety of elements,
but the bottom line is, you don't have to be that far off to be
None of the American
rowing teams earned medals in Sydney, but the women's eight and
men's lightweight four did qualify for the final race. Crooks and
Hershmiller's Canadian men's eight team did not qualify for the
finals, but edged the Netherland crew to win the B race with a 5:36.30
Ahrens is now back home
in Wisconsin recuperating. The intense training and two weeks in
Sydney took its toll, and he's currently unsure about what his racing
"I'm going to take
a break right now," he said. "This whole experience has
been great, but the last six years of my life have been so dominated
by rowing. Sometimes, the sound of having a normal life sounds pleasant."
For those of us watching
at home, representing your country as one of the world's best athletes
doesn't sound so bad, either.
By Mark Gola
Mark Gola is the author
of the Louisville Slugger Complete Book of Pitching.
Susan Rea '00
has been named New Jersey's NCAA Woman of the Year. The former soccer
and basketball player earned seven varsity letters at Princeton
while maintaining a 3.96 grade-point average in chemical engineering.
Rea was particularly accomplished in soccer. She was an All-Ivy
selection and led the Tigers to the NCAA tournament as a senior.
Rea was actively involved with the Urban Crisis Food Ministry in
Trenton, New Jersey, was a volunteer and committee head for the
Special Olympics, worked with the Martin House project, a home-repair
and beautification program for low-income families in Trenton, and
served as a Big Sister while at Princeton. For her efforts, Rea
earned the Art Lane '34 Citizen-Athlete Award for outstanding community
service by a Princeton athlete. Rea is also a Marshall Scholar who
began work toward her Ph.D. at Cambridge University this fall.
graduate, Bill Bradley '65, recently turned down an offer
to become chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Bradley felt that
he could not devote the time necessary to do the job properly, according
to the head of the USOC's nominating committee. However, Bradley
has agreed to become a board member of the organization.
Heisman Trophy winner
and football hero Dick Kazmaier '51 turned up in the October
2 issue of Sports Illustrated. An ad by Suzuki titled "Suzuki
presents Heisman Heroes" featured Kazmaier as its subject.
The full-page ad profiles his career and refers to his decision
to spurn the NFL's Chicago Bears and attend Harvard business school.
Princeton has promoted
Michael Cross to associate director of athletics. Cross,
in his second year at Princeton after earning a Ph.D. at Michigan,
serves as the athletic department's compliance coordinator and liaison
to admissions. Also promoted was Jim McLaughlin, who assumes the
title of assistant director of athletics. Among his responsibilities
will be oversight of the athletic ticket office. Erin McDermott
was recently hired as assistant director of athletics, and Mark
Garneau has been named director of aquatics.
Women's basketball head
coach Liz Feely resigned to accept the head coaching job
at Smith College. She will be replaced on an interim basis by Kevin
Morris, previously head women's coach at Fordham. Former field
hockey star Kirsty Hale '99 returns as an assistant to head
field hockey coach Beth Bozman. Hale holds field hockey records
for career points, career goals, and career assists and led her
teams to four NCAA tournament berths and three Final Four appearances.
Jennifer Sewell, a four-year letter-winner at Ohio University,
was named assistant softball coach. Rob Burke joins the staff of
new head men's basketball coach John Thompson III '88. Burke
spent the last three seasons at Siena and was a teammate of Thompson's
at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. Terri Dadio
Campbell has been named assistant coach for the women's basketball
team. Dadio Campbell was formerly the head coach at Washington &
Former assistant football
coach Steve DiGregorio has made the transition from the field
to the booth. "Digger" is now calling Tiger football games
on the radio for WHWH AM 1350 in Princeton and WHTG AM 1410 in Eatontown,
New Jersey. Broadcasts can also be heard on the Web at
On September 13, Princeton
legend and former football coach Eddie Donovan was honored
at the Nassau Club in Princeton. On hand to pay tribute to Donovan
and his contributions to the university were several Princeton athletic
luminaries, including Cosmo Iacavazzi '65 and director of
athletics Gary Walters '67. Bill Bradley and former
Tiger hoops coach Butch Van Breda Kolff telephoned during
the gathering to show their appreciation for all that Donovan has
meant to the university.