After sending half of its starting lineup to the NCAA Championships last March, the Princeton wrestling team had high hopes for the 2015-16 season. So far the Tigers have not disappointed, racking up major victories on both individual and team levels that have elevated them to national recognition.
Princeton, which was tied with Northern Iowa for the No. 25 spot in the Dec. 1 USA Today/NWCA Coaches rankings, opened its home season Dec. 5 with a pair of challenging opponents. The Tigers defeated Northwestern 24-18 on Saturday morning in its first home match of the season, but fell to No. 12 Lehigh 33-3. Princeton returns to competition on Friday evening against Navy at home in Dillon Gymnasium.
Returning eight of their 10 main starters from last season, the Tigers began competition last month with open tournaments at Binghamton and Navy. The Tigers had nine place winners at the Binghamton Open Nov. 8, which included a first-place finish for junior captain and 197-pounder Brett Harner. The Tigers had an even more impressive performance Nov. 21, when they had four individual champions and 10 overall place winners en route to a team title at the Navy Classic.
Princeton opened dual meet competition Nov. 29 in New York City. The Tigers began the day at Madison Square Garden, where they wrestled two duals at the annual Grapple at the Garden. Princeton started off the day on a strong note, avenging a heartbreaking loss last season to Hofstra by posting a dominant 33-9 team victory over the Pride. The Tigers then took on No. 4 Nebraska, which ended in a 21-12 defeat but included notable upsets from the Princeton lineup against nationally ranked individuals. Junior 141-pounder Jordan Laster upset No. 13 Anthony Abidin, senior 149-pounder Chris Perez knocked off No. 5 Jake Sueflohn, and junior heavyweight Ray O’Donnell upset No. 13 Collin Jensen to give the Tigers a respectable performance against one of the top teams in the nation.
The Tigers faced off later that afternoon against No. 13 Illinois at the New York Athletic Club, falling 20-15. Perez and O’Donnell once again knocked off nationally ranked opponents, and the Tigers kept the match far closer than the 41-0 defeat that they suffered to the Illini just three years ago.
Led by Michelle Miller ’16’s 24 points, women’s basketball outplayed previously unbeaten Michigan, 74-57, at Jadwin Gym Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Tigers have now defeated a team from the Big Ten, PAC 10, SEC, ACC, or Big East in six consecutive seasons.
Men’s basketball fell to Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon 91-77. Junior forward Henry Caruso and freshman guard Devin Cannady scored 16 points apiece, but it was not enough to keep the Tigers from their first loss of the season. Princeton heads to Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday evening for a 7 p.m. showdown.
Men’s hockey had an enormous weekend against Ivy League rivals, completing its first sweep of Yale and Brown on the road since the 2007-08 season. Princeton knocked off Brown 4-2 on Friday evening and followed with a 4-2 victory over No. 10 Yale on Saturday evening.