July 19, 2006: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
One bite from a bagel told senior Caroline Lind everything she needed to know about how important this year’s NCAA Championships had become for her. “I nearly gagged,” she said, recalling her pre-race meal on May 28. “I was so nervous, I couldn’t eat.”
With the women’s open varsity eight grand final a few hours away, Lind, a U.S. National Team rower and a veteran of three previous NCAA Champion-ships, did everything she could to force down her breakfast and stick to her normal routine. She talked with her teammates, stretched, and drew deep breaths. As the boat shoved off from the dock at Mercer Lake in nearby West Windsor, she told herself, “It’s just another piece” — another 2,000 meters of water to row.
Princeton followed Lind’s lead and rowed with collective determination, taking an early advantage over Brown, California, and the rest of the six-boat field. By the halfway point, coxswain Elizabeth Agnew ’08 could look to either side and see open water. Princeton continued to build its lead, crossing the finish line more than six seconds ahead of California to win its first national title in the varsity eight since 1995.
The win provided some measure of redemption for Princeton, which had lost to California by two seconds in the varsity eight final last year. But more than that, it showed that the Tigers were as impressive as advertised. Ranked No. 1 in the preseason, the varsity eight posted a perfect 14–0 record in the regular season, when only one crew — Yale — came within 10 seconds of the Tigers. At the Eastern Sprints May 14, Princeton dominated the field, winning the grand final by more than eight seconds over Brown. California, which also was undefeated in the regular season, provided the final obstacle, and Princeton barely looked tested.
Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny said the loss in the 2005 NCAA final proved to be the starting point for this year’s remarkable team. “It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to us, looking back on it,” she said. “I didn’t feel that way back then, [but] it was definitely fuel for the fire.”
In addition to Lind, the stroke, the boat featured four seniors: Kate Bertko, who joined Lind in four NCAA varsity eight competitions; Devan Darby, the captain and the group’s lone walk-on; Andreanne Morin, a 2004 Olympian with the Canadian women’s eight; and Jackie Zider, a three-year varsity eight rower. Genevra Stone ’07, Carrie Kruse ’07, and Kristin Haraldsdottir ’08 filled the remaining seats.
Princeton’s talent went far beyond the top eight seats, Dauphiny said. The Tigers placed third in overall team points at the NCAA regatta, behind California and Brown, finishing sixth in the second varsity eight and seventh in the varsity four with coxswain. But the victory in the varsity eight, the weekend’s marquee event, was the team’s defining achievement.
Bertko, the varsity eight’s bow, said that winning the title was an ideal way to complete four years of rowing at Princeton. “We’ve been thinking about this all year, and the boat has come together in the most incredible way,” she said after the race, trophy in hand. “I wanted this more for my team than I wanted it for myself.”
After an undefeated season, an Ivy League championship, and a first-place finish at the Eastern Sprints, Princeton’s men’s heavyweight crew entered the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta as the national title favorite. But the Tigers’ top West Coast challengers proved formidable in the grand final on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J., June 3.
Washington, the Tigers’ top competition in the semifinals, was among the early contenders in the race, but by the midpoint, Princeton and California moved to the front. California pushed ahead, and despite a strong charge from Princeton, the Golden Bears held on to win by nearly two seconds, leaving the Tigers in second place for the second consecutive year.
Princeton’s men’s lightweight and women’s lightweight boats also reached their IRA grand finals. The men’s lightweights edged Columbia by less than a second to finish in third place, behind Cornell and Harvard. The women’s lightweights, rowing with just one senior in the boat, placed fourth behind Wisconsin, Georgetown, and Radcliffe.
Strong starting pitching kept the Princeton softball and baseball teams close in their NCAA tournament games in May and June, but both teams struggled to produce runs and took early exits from postseason play.
The softball team featured standout senior Erin Snyder, pitching in her third NCAA tournament in four years, and she showed some of the brilliance that made her Princeton’s all-time leader in strikeouts during the Tigers’ games against Louisiana State and North Carolina State May 19 and 20.
Snyder opened the tournament by retiring the first 10 Louisiana State batters, but the host team rallied for three runs in the fourth inning. Princeton put runners on first and second with one out in the top of the fifth, but two fly balls to the outfield resulted in outs, ending the opportunity. Louisiana State went on to win 5–0.
Against North Carolina State, Snyder surrendered a home run to the Wolfpack’s Jennifer Henderson in the first inning. It proved to be the only run in a 1–0 Princeton loss. Snyder struck out 12 batters, walked one, and gave up three hits in seven innings pitched.
The baseball team played at the Fayetteville (Ark.) regional tournament June 2 and 3, and senior pitcher Erik Stiller struck out 10 hitters in eight innings of work during Princeton’s opening game against Oklahoma State. The Tigers out-hit the Cowboys, 7–6, but a two-run home run by Matt Clarkson in the second inning helped Oklahoma State take an early lead en route to a 4–1 win.
With the Tigers facing elimination against Arkansas June 3, sophomore pitcher Christian Staehely came up with one of the weekend’s most impressive performances, holding the Razorbacks hitless through seven innings. Spencer Lucien ’08 blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to give Princeton a 2–0 lead, but the Razorbacks replied with five runs in the eighth inning – including three on a bases-loaded double — and went on to win 6–2.
In 2005–06, 13 Princeton teams won Ivy League championships, nine advanced to NCAA postseason play, and one — women’s open crew — won national gold. PAW takes a brief look back at some of the year’s memorable moments.
Football’s Jay McCareins ’06 ran back a fourth-quarter kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to lead Princeton to a 27–24 victory at Harvard Oct. 22. It was the Tigers’ first win against the Crimson since 1995, and the team went on to finish the year 7–3, tying for second place in the Ivy League.
Paige Schmidt ’08 found the goal on a long shot in overtime, giving the field hockey team an apparent upset win against Duke in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Nov. 12. But the ball deflected off a Duke
player’s stick and never touched a Princeton player’s stick inside the arc, negating the goal. The score remained tied until the Blue Devils scored in the second overtime period to win 2–1.
Men’s squash star Yasser El Halaby ’06 won his fourth individual national championship — the first player to accomplish that feat — by sweeping Harvard junior Siddharth Suchde in the final match March 5. El Halaby also helped the Tigers come within a game of the national team championship at Jadwin Gym on Feb. 19.
In an October interview, Cack Ferrell ’06 laid out her plans for the year: Earn All-America honors in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. She nearly met her ambitious goal. She finished 10th in the NCAA Cross Country Championships Nov. 21 and placed fourth in the 3,000 meters at the NCAA indoor meet March 11, earning All-America honors both times. At the NCAA outdoor meet June 9, Ferrell finished 11th in the 5,000-meter final, three spots shy of All-America status.
By Stephen Eschenbach
In early June, San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young ’02 won his 20th career game with a 1–0 shutout at Pittsburgh, putting him more than halfway to Dave Sisler ’53’s Princeton alumni record of 38 major league wins. Said Sisler of Young, “He’ll pass me for sure.”
Though separated by about 50 years, Sisler’s career has some striking parallels to Young’s. Both made the NCAA championships in baseball their sophomore year, both played basketball at Prince-ton, and both signed with major league clubs after their junior seasons — a move that Sisler said he regrets because it cost him a year of both baseball and basketball.
Sisler, who joined the Boston Red Sox organization in 1952, seemed to be on the fast track to the major leagues: His father, George, had a Hall of Fame career with the St. Louis Browns and two other teams, and his brother Dick broke into the majors in 1946 with the St. Louis Cardinals. But like many players of his era, Sisler first had a two-year stopover in the U.S. Army and a brief stint in the minor leagues. In 1956, he began what would be a seven-year, four-team tour through the major leagues.
Like Young, Sisler was traded early in his major league career. The Red Sox sent him to the Detroit Tigers in 1959, and a year later Sisler had what he calls his best season in the majors. He posted a 7–5 record, with a career-best 2.48 earned-run average in 41 games. “I was just learning how to pitch,” he said. But when the American League expanded, Sisler was drafted by the reborn Washington Senators, who filled the void left when the original Senators moved to Minnesota. “The club was just the pits,” Sisler recalled. “I should have retired after Detroit.” His record fell to 2–8 in 1961, and after one more season with the Cincinnati Reds, he was done.
After baseball, Sisler attended graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. He went to work for the investment firm A.G. Edwards and eventually served as vice chairman, overseeing the firm’s growth from 50 branches to more than 600. He found that his baseball experience applied to the brokerage business. “Baseball players and brokers are very similar — you get paid on what you do,” he said.
Though Sisler and Chris Young have never met, Young said he is impressed with the former pitcher’s post-baseball success. Equaling Sisler’s win total, he added, would be a “great personal achievement.” Sisler, who lives in St. Louis and has observed Young’s progress on television, said he likes the 6-foot, 10-inch right-hander’s prospects, in part because Young has shown the ability to vary the speed of his pitches to keep hitters off balance. “I think I threw harder than Chris,” said Sisler, whose strength was his fastball, “but he is the better pitcher.”
Stephen Eschenbach is working with the Ivy League on its 50th anniversary celebration.
At the Princeton Varsity Club’s SENIOR AWARDS banquet June 1, men’s squash player Yasser El Halaby received the Roper Trophy as Princeton’s top male athlete, and six women — Emily Behncke (soccer), Cack Ferrell (cross country and track), Jacqueline Leahy (fencing), Caroline Lind (open crew), Erin Snyder (softball), and Lauren Vance (lacrosse) — shared the Von Kienbusch Award for the top female athlete. Woodrow Wilson School major Michael Broache (men’s lightweight crew) won the Class of 1916 Cup as the varsity letter winner with the highest academic standing.
Devan Darby (women’s open crew), Lauren Ehrlichman (field hockey), Eric Leroux (men’s hockey), and Weston Powell (men’s lightweight crew) were honored with the Art Lane Award for selfless contribution to sport and society.
The University named Chris Ayres head coach of the WRESTLING team May 31. Ayres, who was an All-American wrestler at Lehigh, served as an assistant coach at his alma mater for five seasons, helping the Mountain Hawks win five Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championships.
At the WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD NCAA East Regional meet May 27, Cack Ferrell ’06 finished fifth in the 5,000-meter run and Suzanne Andrews ’06 placed fifth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Ferrell placed 11th in her event at the NCAA Championships June 9. Josh Probst ’06 and Frank Macreery ’06 had Princeton’s best finishes in the regional meet for MEN’S TRACK AND FIELD, placing seventh in the javelin and the 10,000 meters, respectively. Macreery finished 10th in the NCAA 10,000-meter final June 8.
The Ivy League champion MEN’S GOLF team finished 26th in a field of 27 teams at the NCAA Central Regional in Chardon, Ohio, May 18–20. John Sawin ’07 had Princeton’s best single-round score (an even-par 71 in round three) and its best three-day total (a 12-over-par 225).
Olympic gold medalist speed-skater Joey Cheek told USA Today in May that he will be part of Princeton’s CLASS OF 2010. Cheek, who turned 27 in June, made headlines at the 2006 Turin games when he donated $40,000 in medal bonuses to the international humanitarian aid group Right to Play.
Princeton football alumni Charles Bahlert ’06, Rob Holuba ’06, Jon Veach ’05, and Keith Elias ’94 and a team of Japanese collegiate all-stars faced Penn alumni and another group of Japanese collegians in the third annual IVY-SAMURAI BOWL in Tokyo June 18. The Princeton team won the exhibition game 26–7.
CRAIG ROBINSON ’83 was named head coach of men’s basketball at Brown June 15. Robinson, a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year as an undergraduate, served as an assistant coach at Northwestern under former Princeton coach Bill Carmody from 2000 to 2006.