Spring teams fight ‘Jadwin fever,’ one practice (or trick shot) at a time

The life of a spring athlete in the Northeast can be difficult this time of year. Many schools further south and west have already played their first games, enjoying warm afternoons and sunshine after a full winter of practice. But for Princeton and other Ivy League teams, February merely means the continuation of winter: intermittent snowfall, temperatures in the 30s and more time spent training indoors, waiting for the weather to turn so the season can begin.

How do these athletes pass the time while cooped up inside? The men’s golf team came up with a fun solution: a trick-shot video.

 

This video, which has garnered about 2,500 views as of Monday morning, was conceived by Greg Jarmas ’14 and Matt Gerber ’16 and also features Joe D’Amato ’15 and Quinn Prchal ’16 in supporting roles. The foursome filmed their shots near the end of January’s finals period and posted the result earlier this month. “We were hanging around practicing one day, hitting some of those shots, and we thought, we should make a video — it would be fun to make, at least,” Jarmas said.

For a film in which several shots required extreme precision, those four Tigers were able to hole out rather quickly. Jarmas said the recording process took only 1-2 hours a day for a three-day span, serving as a reminder that, to borrow an old PGA Tour slogan, these guys are good. (He added that thinking up new tricks often took longer than executing them, and that the climactic ending — a crazy, Rube Goldberg-esque shot that runs for a full 30 seconds — took two hours to build.) Indeed, if the fall was any indication, Princeton has a promising future ahead — the Tigers won the Ivy match play tournament title in October and will be a strong contender for the official conference championship this spring.

Of course, maintaining that momentum may be hard after the rude interruption of winter. Players can putt in their carpeted practice area by the Dillon squash courts, where their video was staged, and hit into a simulator that projects the ball’s flight path, but there are parts of the real game that can’t be replicated indoors. “It keeps the club in your hand, but there’s no substitute to being able to see the ball fly outside,” Jarmas said.

Baseball and softball players are also suffering cabin fever — or, perhaps, “Jadwin fever” — while being unable to train in their natural outdoor habitats. Ivy League rules allow full in-season practices to begin Feb. 1, but the baseball team had escaped Jadwin only once before last Friday (unlike last year, when both teams were outside early and often after an abnormally mild winter). Meanwhile, most of the nation’s top college teams are well into their seasons; Cal State Fullerton has played eight games already and LSU has played seven, to name two.

Softening the blow is Princeton’s indoor practice area, which pitcher Zak Hermans ’13 called the Ivy League’s best. Despite its unfriendly name — “The Pit” — Princeton’s facility, located at the bottom of Jadwin Gym, has a FieldTurf surface and plenty of netting to catch stray balls. It is spacious enough to contain a full infield for simulated scrimmages, allowing hitters to step outside the batting cages and face live pitching.

There are still limitations, of course — outfielders can’t practice tracking deep fly balls — but in the Northeast, you take whatever opportunities you get. And this weekend, both teams will get vaccinated for Jadwin fever, as the softball team opens its season in Jacksonville while the baseball team visits Maryland. With 3 to 5 doses each weekend through the end of April, as well as occasional mid-week booster shots, Jadwin fever will soon be replaced by spring fever.

Quick takes

It’s show time for MEN’S BASKETBALL. The Tigers dominated Columbia and Cornell on the road, but Harvard maintained its 1.5-game lead with wins at Brown and Yale. On Friday, the Crimson will visit Jadwin Gym (7 p.m., ESPNU), with the Ivy League race on the line — if Princeton holds its home court, the two teams will be effectively even entering the home stretch, but if the Crimson exorcises its Jadwin demons, it would win the league outright with a finish of 2-1 or better.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL hammered Columbia and Cornell at home to extend its conference win streak to 33 games, the longest in Ivy League history. On the heels of a record-breaking 2011-12 season, Princeton has been just as dominant in league play this year, outscoring opponents by 33.2 points per game despite playing with a much different style. The Tigers have their toughest weekend ahead, visiting Harvard Friday and Dartmouth Saturday.

MEN’S SQUASH could not defend last year’s national title, falling 5-4 to Harvard in the semifinals and eventually finishing third. But don’t overlook the performance of Todd Harrity ’13, who played the individual match of the year in college squash: With his team on the brink of elimination, Harrity took on Harvard No. 1 Ali Farag, who came in undefeated in two years of college play, and won 3-1. Gary Power overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat Dylan Ward ’14 at No. 4 and send Harvard to the final (where it lost to top-seeded Trinity), but Harrity can take that confidence into next week’s individual championships, where he could meet Farag again.

It wasn’t a good weekend for Tigers on ice. WOMEN’S HOCKEY entered the weekend in eighth place, but a 4-2 loss at Yale, combined with Colgate’s 2-1 win at Rensselaer, knocked the Tigers down to ninth and ended their season, as only the top eight qualify for the ECAC Tournament. MEN’S HOCKEY fell to Brown and Yale, extending its losing streak to four games, all of which came at home; in this year’s bunched-up ECAC, two bad weekends have dropped Princeton from third place all the way to ninth.

For the first time since May 2010, Princeton’s men were beaten at a Heptagonal championship meet. MEN’S TRACK AND FIELD sure made it interesting, though, overcoming a 45-point lead late in the final day of the indoor Ivy championships and pulling ahead after winning the distance medley, relay thanks to a blazing anchor leg from Peter Callahan ’13. Princeton trailed by three points heading into the final event, the 4×400-meter relay, which the Tigers won by a nose — but Cornell was right behind in second place, close enough to win the competition 157-156 and end Princeton’s streak of seven straight Heps titles in cross country and track.

 

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Kevin Whitaker ’13 is an economics major and former Daily Princetonian sports editor.

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