When Conor McCullough ’14 launched a hammer throw that landed 242 feet, 10 inches away at Weaver Stadium on Friday, he shattered the Ivy League record by more than eight feet – a record he had set two weeks earlier. In other words, it was business as usual for the men’s track and field team, which has erased an astonishing number of rows in various record books in 2012.
The Tigers’ magic started in the indoor season, which culminated in a third straight Ivy Heptagonals championship. McCullough set a league record with a weight throw of 76 feet, 1 inch at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet Feb. 11, which held up as the nation’s longest toss of the indoor season. The same weekend, Donn Cabral ’12 and Joe Stilin ’12 set conference records in the 5,000 meters and 3,000 meters, respectively.
The list goes on: Peter Callahan ’13 became the third Ancient Eight runner ever to break four minutes in the mile – and he was very nearly joined by Stilin and Cabral later in the season. The distance medley relay set yet another league record March 4. Several other meet and program records have been reduced to footnotes in a historic season for the Tigers.
“This is an exciting time of the season, and it’s an exciting year in general for us, because we’re having so much success,” Cabral said. “We’re making sure to enjoy the big PRs [personal records], but we want to stay hungry for the big meets at the end of the season as well.”
Not only did McCullough’s weight throw at the Sam Howell Invitational set a league record, it is currently the farthest mark in the nation by a good seven feet. The sophomore reportedly had another throw that landed two or three meters beyond his record-setting toss, but he fouled ever so slightly on that attempt.
Meanwhile, Cabral also boasts the nation’s top time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase after finishing in 8:39.92 on Friday, nearly six seconds faster than any peer has run this year. After finishing second at NCAAs in each of the past two years to a runner who has since graduated, Cabral is set for big things this spring – just like the rest of the Tigers.
“Right now, we have a higher percentage of guys healthy than I can remember in my time here,” Cabral said. “And success brings success – every time we have one guy go out and do something great, and then come back in practice and work out with all his teammates the next day, it’s a sign that you have that potential, so it’s a big confidence-breeding atmosphere. It’s a thing of momentum, and right now we have a lot of it.”
BASEBALL and SOFTBALL each went 3-1 this weekend, but neither gained all that much ground on their immediate foes. After winning three of its first 19 non-conference games, the softball team is 5-3 in the Ivy League but still two games behind division leader Cornell. And the baseball team went 6-2, but all that does this year is get you in the door of the Gehrig Division – all four teams are above .500, better than the best Rolfe Division team, and the Gehrig teams went 23-9 in inter-divisional play. For both squads, the next three weeks of divisional play promise to be challenging.
In most sports, statistics show that no team consistently wins close games at a high rate. With two more 4-3 victories this weekend, MEN’S TENNIS is doing its best to be an exception. Since the start of last season, the Tigers have played 10 Ivy League matches; nine have been decided by one point, and Princeton has won eight of those, including all three this year. WOMEN’S TENNIS wasn’t as lucky, losing at Yale and Brown to fall to 1-2 in the conference.
After a 10-9 loss at No. 17-ranked Syracuse, it’s time to look at the NCAA tournament prospects for MEN’S LACROSSE if the Tigers can’t win the Ivy League’s automatic bid. Let’s look at one possbile scenario: If Princeton finishes in second place in the conference and loses in the Ivy Tournament final, that would give the Tigers a 10-5 overall record and no “bad losses,” but only one win over a currently ranked team (No. 18 Villanova). At least two Ivy League teams have been invited to the NCAAs in each of the last three years, and the Tigers look like a tourney team, talent-wise. But that seems like a light profile. A win over No. 5 Cornell – for either a regular-season Ivy title or the automatic bid in the conference tournament – would certainly do the trick.
WOMEN’S LACROSSE throttled Yale 12-4, scoring 10 goals in an 18-minute span sandwiching halftime. That may be the last of the blowouts – Princeton’s final five games include four ranked opponents (starting with No. 3 Maryland on Wednesday night) and a tough Harvard squad, followed by the Ivy League tournament.
Kevin Whitaker ’13 is an economics major and Daily Princetonian sports editor.