Sports: May 20, 1998

Sports (overview)

Volleyball wins EIVA title, heads to Final Four in Hawaii

What started off as a lackluster season for the men's volleyball team ended in cheers and triumph as the Tigers earned a berth in volleyball's Final Four, in Hawaii.

In January, the Tigers (16-8 overall) got waxed by national powerhouses in California. In February they fell to Penn State, and in early March they lost to upstart league rivals Rutgers-Newark and George Mason.

But a late-season surge and a historic 15-12, 15-12, 15-6 sweep of No. 14 Rutgers-Newark in the April 18 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) championship saw the Tigers rebound to become the most unlikely guest ever to attend volleyball's Big Luau. They are the first unranked team to qualify for NCAAs and at press time were to face No. 1 Pepperdine in the April 30 national semifinal at the University of Hawaii.

During the first three quarters of the season, with mediocre play from all the players, the Tigers hoped simply for a respectable end to a season that began with senior opposite Scott Birdwell's bold proclamation, "We are not where I want us to be until we are in Hawaii."

On the eve of a March 28 rematch with then-No. 10 Penn State, the road across the ocean seemed infinitely long, but that night in Dillon Gym, with a raucous crowd, resilient defense, and career performances from freshman outside Steve Cooper and senior middle Derek Devens, Princeton turned its season around with a 15-13, 15-13, 16-14 victory.

"We've been waiting all season to play like this," said sophomore setter Jason Morrow. Moreover, the Tigers had been waiting their entire 20-year history to defeat Penn State.

A vastly different team from the one that struggled to stay at .500 earlier in the season, the Tigers regained their traditional ball-control prowess and balanced attack by the time the April 11 EIVA quarterfinals rolled around. Senior outside Jeff Cooper recorded nary a shank during the playoffs, sophomore setter Morrow ran a smart offense, and team defense performed miracles.

With the weight of senior theses lifted, the Tigers' core of four seniors elevated their play, and a 15-7, 15-13, 15-7 drubbing of Springfield launched Princeton into an EIVA final four with the league's powerhouse trio: Penn State, GMU, and Newark.

"We used to be afraid of those teams," said Glenn Nelson, who has been head coach at Princeton for 20 years. He is also the only Division I volleyball coach to take both the men's and women's teams to an NCAA tournament in the same year.

But in a fashion reminiscent of their old foes, it was Princeton that raged through the rest of the tournament without dropping a single game.

Behind a 22-kill night for Birdwell, the Tigers handed Penn State its first-ever semifinal loss, 15-7, 15-13, 16-14, at Rutgers-Newark on April 16, and barring a major lapse, Princeton was poised to do even more damage in the finals.

Against a physical Scarlet Raider squad, Princeton hung tough to win the first two games by only three points each, and as the Tigers' confidence rose, Newark totally lost it in the 15-6 third game, whose end signaled redemption and joy for a team that had struggled in the shadows for so long.

Birdwell and Jeff Cooper, the team's offensive leaders with 380 and 400 kills, respectively, and Devens each received all-tournament honors. Morrow garnered tournament MVP honors as well as Princeton's first-ever National Player of the Week award.

And though no EIVA coach-of-the-year award was announced, the Tigers, whose ranking moved up to No. 11, consider Nelson the de-facto winner.

"We did this for ourselves and for our coach," said Birdwell. "It's a dream come true."

-- Josh Stephens '97

Derek Bouchard-Hall '92 spins wheels

For many Princetonians, "work clothes" involve a suit and tie, but for Derek Bouchard-Hall '92, a professional bicycle racer, it involves tight lycra and an aerodynamic helmet.

Bouchard-Hall, who competes for the Shaklee Corporation team, counts among his cycling accomplishments five national-championship medals, membership on the U.S. National Track Cycling Team, a silver medal in a World Cup team-pursuit track race, and, last year, a top-100 world ranking among track racers. He headed to Europe in March for a month of racing with the U.S. road team and hopes to make the U.S. track-racing team for the 2000 Olympics.

Considered a speed specialist, Bouchard-Hall has also consistently placed well in long-distance, road races, short circuits on mostly flat ground, solo time trials, and endurance events at bike tracks. "Not many riders are capable of covering such a wide range of events so competitively," says Frank Scioscia, the Shaklee team manager.

Bouchard-Hall began race training at Princeton, where he says he "studied a little, socialized a little, and rode the bike a lot." His academics earned him entrance to Stanford�s structural-engineering master�s program.

In 1994, during Bouchard-Hall's final quarter at Stanford, Scioscia approached him with an invitation to ride for the Shaklee team. "I thought I'd do it for six months, until the end of the season, before becoming an engineer," Bouchard-Hall recalls. He finished his master's degree while racing professionally, and during that time he'd spend half his week racing and half his week on campus. Often he'd fax in classwork from race sites all over the country. After his studies concluded, he began racing full time.

His job requires up to seven hours of training (or racing) six days a week and living out of a suitcase for most of the year. Since cyclists reach their peak in their early 30s, Bouchard-Hall, now 27, will soon have to consider what he'll do next. He admits he's a little apprehensive. "After the Olympics, I'll have been out of school for six years and lost contact with professors and potential employers, as well as some of my practical knowledge," he says. He hopes his theoretical knowledge will see him through but adds, "I watch classmates advance in their careers, and sometimes I ask myself, 'Why am I traveling across the country, sleeping in cheap hotels?'"

Bouchard-Hall knows he'll miss a lot when his racing life is over. "Training for racing is so focused and so goal-oriented: it gives meaning to my daily regimen and my development," he says. "I probably won't be able to get that in the workplace later on."

-- Christian C. Casparian '91

Tigers take two of three against Penn in baseball

For the Princeton baseball team, which headed into the final regular-season weekend with a Gehrig Division-leading 11-5 league record, 1998 had boiled down to a simple formula. "Every weekend you have a series," coach Scott Bradley told his players. "If you win that series, you get to extend your season."

Princeton's opponent in that final weekend was Cornell, which trailed Princeton by one game in the Gehrig standings and needed to take at least three out of four from the Tigers to force a playoff. A 2-2 split would have been enough to set up an Ivy League Championship showdown between Princeton and Harvard for the third straight year.

Princeton's performance against struggling Pennsylvania at Clarke Field on April 25 and 27 gave the Tigers an opportunity to showcase the strengths that have helped Bradley contest for the title in his first year as coach. In the opener, senior Brian Stroh threw a complete-game three-hitter on the way to a 6-1 win, and senior captain Mike Hazen went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, a stolen base, two runs scored, and an RBI.

The simple combination of strong pitching and reliable hitting has been the team's recipe for success all year long. Princeton has a team batting average of .315, compared with its opponents' average of .267, and has outscored its opponents 228-142.

Tim Killgoar '99 got the start in the second Penn game and lasted five innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He was relieved by Howard Horn '99, who allowed one run on one hit over two innings. Hazen, who is hitting .404 with six home runs and 30 RBI, would go 2-for-4 in the nightcap, with a home run, two runs scored, and three RBI as the Tigers won 10-3. "It was typical Mike Hazen," said Bradley. "He is the heart and soul of this team. As he goes, we go."

After being rained out of the Sunday doubleheader, the Tigers played Penn again on Monday and split two games. "We ran into a hot pitcher," said Brad-ley, by way of explaining the 8-1 loss in the opener. In the nightcap, the Tigers righted themselves with an 8-2 win behind a complete-game performance from sophomore Jason Quintana. Improving his record to 4-0, Quintana allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five. Impressive freshman Max Krance raised his team-leading batting average to .418, going 2-for-4 with two RBI.

Should the Tigers advance to the League Championship, they would host Harvard for the three-game series on May 9 and 10. A win there, and the NCAA play-in would be at Clarke Field as well. As Bradley sees it, it's all the more incentive to keep winning those series. As spring advances, he says, "I'd love to be able to spend some nice weekends at Clarke Field."

-- Rob Garver

Goodbye, Junior Varsity
Varsity rosters swell as JV squads dwindle at Princeton and other universities

Not long after he was hired as head baseball coach this fall, Scott Bradley decided to do away with the junior varsity baseball team. Instead he expanded his varsity roster to include six or seven of Princeton's top JV players and added several developmental games to his spring schedule for players well down on his depth chart. The relaxed, no-cuts approach of the old JV team wasn't supporting the varsity squad as Bradley believed it should: providing a learning atmosphere for varsity athletes. "A coach's number-one responsibility is to his varsity program," he says. "From a developmental standpoint, this reorganization was the only way."

Bradley's decision is representative of coaches at Princeton. Over the last 10 years, they have been steadily knocking out the bottom rung of their programs. An informal survey of coaches reveals that, at the end of last year, of the university's 33 Division I sports, only five -- men's basketball, men's and women's tennis, and men's and women's rowing -- had separate JV squads. Like Bradley, most coaches are opting for one slightly bigger squad within their program, keeping lower-level players active with just a few JV games.

According to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) report, compiled by the athletics department (as dictated by the gender-equity laws known as Title IX), about one-fourth of Princeton's 1,200 varsity athletes held JV status last year. However, the majority of those athletes were part of a varsity squad; they just didn't get enough playing time to earn a varsity letter. Few played a full schedule of JV games or were coached by a separate coach. The definition of a nonvarsity athlete is changing significantly at Princeton, an institution that once prided itself for its broad network of JV and freshman teams.


The transformation is by no means confined to Princeton. According to Director of Athletics Gary Walters '67, the university seems to be at the trailing edge of a widespread shift away from JV sports. Prince-ton coaches have more flexibility than do other coaches around the country, since Princeton's Title IX-compliance records allow for far more teams than most schools have, and because financial support from alumni provides a funding cushion for many athletic programs.

Other colleges have had to eliminate JV programs to meet the constraints of Title IX, financial limitations, and NCAA coaching restrictions, says Walters. All the Ivy League schools except Princeton and Harvard recently installed a cap limiting the total number of men in their athletic programs, which is almost certain to reduce the number of JV athletes.

Princeton's elimination of JV programs is in part a response to such steps at other universities, according to Associate Director of Athletics George VanderZwaag. "There's a trend out there," he says. "It's not just us." In women's lacrosse, for example, says coach Chris Sailer, "there aren't a whole lot of teams left to play. There are fewer and fewer JV teams in the Ivy League, and outside the Ivies, you don't see JVs at all." It's the same for men's tennis, according to coach David Benjamin, the executive director of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. He estimates that his JV squad is one of only 10 to 15 in the country.

Princeton, says VanderZwaag, is "having a tough time finding good JV scheduling partners. . . . At some point it's just not viable to have JV teams anymore." Many of the JV contests that coaches now schedule feature teams from prep schools and junior colleges, opposition that in many cases is decidedly inferior. This fall, the women's soccer team's six JV games were so lopsided that players convinced head coach Julie Shackford not to schedule any JV games next season.

Coaches are also doing away with JV teams because they no longer serve as pipelines supplying polished talent to the varsity. Now teams rely on the recruiting process to replenish top-flight talent. "Recruiting has become so intense and thorough that it's unusual when an athlete spends a few years on the JV and then moves up to become a contributor on the varsity," says Benjamin. During Benjamin's 24 years at Princeton, only one player (last year's cocaptain Steve Thomas '97) has ever made an impact at the varsity level after starting with the JV.

In addition, freshman athletes arrive on campus better prepared than in the past, according to Associate Athletic Director Amy Campbell. She attributes this to an "increase in specialization. . . . Kids are willing to concentrate on one sport at the junior-high level. The result is that the skill level of high-school athletes is much different than it used to be."

Men's lacrosse coach Bill Tierney, who dropped his JV team when he came to the university 10 years ago, has made a science out of recruiting. In the process, he's turned Princeton into a lacrosse dynasty, consistently attracting top high-school talent and winning four NCAA titles in the last six years.

Despite having the best men's lacrosse team in the nation, the coach keeps an average of two new walk-ons every year. It's part of his innovative approach to managing his players, and it complements his oft-praised recruiting strategy.

Tierney treats these walk-ons (and his less-talented players) as an important part of the team. When the schedule calls for the reserves to play in a JV game, he moves practices back a few hours so those playing in the game can join the rest of the team for a workout afterward. The growth of individual players is a priority. "We make a big deal out of the bottom-end guys," says Tierney. "They are as important a part of the team as anybody. They make players like [star attackmen] Jesse Hubbard '98 better."

Other coaches are following suit. Field hockey coach Beth Bozman (whose team made trips to the NCAA Final Four in 1996 and 1997) experimented with having just one squad for the first time this past fall. "We'll do it again next year," Bozman says. "It's just a better option for both coaches and players."

Sailer finds that she gets more out of the players on her women's lacrosse squad by keeping them as one unit. "The kids don't have to wait until April to start playing like a normal JV," she says. The players she included on the varsity have shown they belong: "We have seven players in our junior class that could potentially start for us this season," says Sailer. "Only one was a contributor as a freshman, but they all were practicing against the varsity every day. I think [having one team] has definitely helped us."

The merging of JV and varsity squads has often left some athletes out of the picture, but coaches and athletic-department personnel are quick to point out that club sports have become a legitimate option for the former JV athlete. A rise in club-sport participation has mirrored the decline of the JV teams. Club teams' rosters have grown by more than 30 percent during the last 15 years and now include one-fifth of the student body, according to Eric Stein, an associate director of athletics. Coaches have encouraged that increase by helping students set up clubs. They've also fueled the competitive fire of club athletes by (sparingly) taking club stars onto the varsity, as Tierney has done three times.

But the decline of JV teams has meant fewer stories like that of Chris Kilburn-Peterson '99. Lightly recruited by then�men's basketball coach Pete Carril, and struck with mononucleosis as a freshman, Kilburn-Peterson spent his first two years with the JV squad. This year he earned a varsity spot.

"As corny as it sounds, JV is the place for a guy with a dream," he says. "You can go to Dillon and play all the pick-up games you want, but being on a team is something else." With traditional nonvarsity athletics waning at Princeton, soon the dreams of JV athletes like Kilburn-Peterson may also start to fade.

-- Oakley Brooks '99

Oakley Brooks is a freelance writer and the captain of the men's water polo team.

Sports Shorts

Lax update: The men's team, (10-1 overall, 6-0 Ivy) won the Ivy League championship April 28 by beating Penn, 17-8. The win marked the team's fourth consecutive Ivy title, a record not equaled since 1960-63. The team also became the first to complete three perfect Ivy seasons since Cornell's five-season streak in 1974-78. Senior attackmen Chris Massey and Jesse Hubbard ended their careers with 46 goals each in the Class of 1952 Stadium, the most by any players in the stadium's three-year history.

The seventh-ranked women (10-3 overall, 5-1 Ivy) lost to Virginia and Temple, 4-9 and 5-11, but then beat Cornell, Yale, and Delaware. Attack Cristi Samaras '99 is leading the charge; she had 72 goals at press time, tying her own school record for points in a season.

Golf: The women's golf team won the New England Championships last month, beating second-place Hartford by nine strokes. Freshman phenom Julia Allison shot a tournament-best 148, bringing Princeton back from a 13-stroke deficit the second day. Allison, Natalie Christensen '01, and Adrienne Gill '01 earned All-Northeast honors. Princeton's men's team placed fourth at the Ivy Invitational; Ben McConahey '99 was top Tiger finisher.

Coach Ellis cycles off: Bob Ellis, longtime cycling coach of Princeton's bicycling team, announced plans to retire at the end of this year.



(21-10 overall,11-5 Ivy)

L/W vs. Harvard, 3-6/10-2

W/W vs.Dartmouth,2-1/10-4

L at Rider, 7-8 (10)

L/W at Brown, 10-11/13-9

W/W at Yale, 5-3/19-0

W vs. St. Peter's, 13-6

W/L at Columbia,10-3/2-6

W/L at Columbia,5-1/10-11

W at Long Island, 16-8

W at Temple, 5-1

L/W vs. Penn, 1-8/8-2

W/W vs. Penn, 6-1/10-3

M. Heavyweight crew

(7-1 overall, 4-1 Ivy)

W vs. Navy, 6:17-6:28

W vs. Rutgers, 6:17-6:32

W/W vs. Columbia, Penn,

L/W vs. Harvard, MIT,

W/W vs. Cornell, Yale,

M. lightweight crew

(5-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy)

W vs Georgetown, 6:09-6:19

W at Navy, 6:03-6:26

W/W vs. Cornell, Rutgers,

W vs. Penn, 6:18-6:26

W. lightweight crew

(3-1 overall,1-0 Ivy)

L at Villanova, 7:16-7:11

San Diego Classic-2nd

W vs. Radcliffe,7:18-7:23

W/W vs. Wisconsin, U.Va., 7:14-7:25-7:25

Cooper River Invit.-2nd

W. Open crew

(7-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy)

L vs. Brown, 6:23-6:16

W/W vs.Rutgers, Columbia, 7:15-7:25-7:27

W/W vs. Radcliffe, Cornell, 7:06-7:12-7:27

W/W vs. Virginia, Yale,

W/W vs. Dartmouth, Penn,

M. golf

Navy Invit.-7th

W/W vs. Harvard, Yale, 368-379-389

Ivy League Champs.-4th

Princeton Invit.-5th

W. golf

Wm. & Mary Invit.-3rd

Boston Coll. Invit.-4th

Ivy Champs.-2nd

New Eng. Champs.-1st

M. Lacrosse

(9-1 overall, 5-0 Ivy)

W at Brown, 9-6

W at Harvard, 15-7

W vs. Cornell, 15-5

W vs. Rutgers, 19-7

W at Dartmouth, 21-9

W vs. Penn, 17-8

W. Lacrosse

(10-3 overall, 5-1 Ivy)

L vs. U.Va., 4-9

W vs. Cornell, 14-3

L at Temple, 5-11

W vs. Yale, 14-10

W vs. Delaware, 11-5

W at Harvard, 6-4

W vs. Penn, 19-4

L vs. Dartmouth, 9-10


(25-15 overall, 6-4 Ivy)

W/W at Temple, 6-2/7-1

W/W vs.Delaware, 4-3(10)/5-0

L/L at Cornell, 3-4/1-2

W/W at Penn, 2-0/6-0

W/W vs. Rider, 8-0/3-2

L/L vs. Harvard, 0-1/1-2

W/W vs.Dartmouth,4-0/3-2

W/L vs. Hofstra, 2-1/12

W/W at Brown, 6-1/5-0

W/W at Yale, 7-2/5-2

M. Tennis

(12-7 overall, 5-2 Ivy)

W vs.Brown, 4-3

W vs.Yale, 4-3

W vs.Geo. Wash.,7-0

W vs.Navy, 6-1

W vs.Army, 6-1

W vs.Dartmouth, 4-3

L at Harvard, 1-6

W vs. Cornell, 7-0

W. Tennis

(14-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy)

W at Brown, 8-1

W at Yale, 7-2

W vs.Rutgers, 9-0

W at Seton Hall, 6-3

W vs.Dartmouth, 9-0

L vs.Harvard, 3-6

W at Cornell, 7-2

M. track

(1-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy)

Sam Howell Invit.-indiv.

W vs. Penn, 86-78

Barnett Bank-indiv.

New Jersey Coll.-1st

Penn Relays-indiv.

W. track

(1-1 overall,1-1 Ivy)

Sam Howell Invit.-indiv.

Texas Relays-indiv.

L/W vs. Penn, Yale, 54-99-30

Barnett Bank-indiv.

New Jersey Coll.-2nd

Penn Relays-indiv.

M. Volleyball

(16-8 overall, 7-1 EIVA)

EIVA Playoffs-1st
W vs. Springfield, 3-0
W vs. Penn St., 3-0
W vs. Rutgers-Newark,3-0


Baseball: shortstop Justin Griffin '98 was named Ivy Player of the Week 4/15, after leading Tigers to three wins in four Ivy games.

M. hockey: Goaltender Erasmo Saltarelli '98 signed a limited contract with the Washington Capitals' minor league team. He finished this year with 870 saves and 17 victories, both single-season records; he holds best career save percentage (.896) in Tiger history.