Alumni, student-athletes excel in international competition

In team fencing competitions, Kat Holmes ’17 said, the anchor role is often reserved for the most aggressive competitor — and that’s not her. But the anchor also needs to be  focused and strategic, and Holmes knows something about that. The 2016 Olympian and Princeton psychology and neuroscience grad wrote her senior thesis about decision-making in fencing.

“Mentally, I felt that I was well suited to the position,” she said.

Kat Holmes ’17
Courtesy USA Fencing
Holmes, a member of the U.S. epee squad, moved into the anchor role earlier this season, and something “just really clicked,” she said. The Americans won bronze in a World Cup event in February, then gold in another in May, and came into this year’s World Championships in Wuxi, China, as a title contender.

The Worlds would provide a series of tests for Holmes, and she passed each one. After tying score with three seconds remaining in a quarterfinal matchup with Estonia, she put the U.S. over the top in overtime. In the semifinals against Russia, she outscored the formidable Violetta Kolobova, 13-10, to secure a narrow 27-25 U.S. win. And in the final against South Korea, Holmes again went to overtime and won, earning the United States’ first Senior World Championships gold in women’s epee.

Holmes said the team had been building up to the golden moment for months. “Even when we were down,” she said, “we had confidence in ourselves and in each other.”

In the women’s saber competition, Eliza Stone ’13, one of Holmes’ former Princeton teammates, also recorded a notable “first,” winning a bronze — her first individual medal in the Senior World Championships.

Stone said that it’s hard to gauge where you are in your career based on one result, but she’s happy to be climbing the international rankings with the next Olympic qualifying period on the horizon.

Stone and Holmes both work and train at Princeton, though both took time away from fencing in August, focusing on fitness and cross-training instead.

For Stone, the break was a mixed blessing. “If you don’t do it every day, you miss it,” she said. “Fencing is kind of an athletic addiction.”

Brendan Galvin ’20
Courtesy Brendan Galvin

For the second straight summer, Brendan Galvin ’20 suited up for Ireland’s national baseball team, which hosted a qualifier for the European Championships in July. Galvin, a catcher on a team composed mainly of Irish-American collegians, said the gameday atmosphere was energetic.

“There were a few Celtic drums within the crowd and kids ran around with Irish flags,” Galvin said in an email to PAW. “Behind home plate there was a large group of spunky little kids that belted out ‘Amhrán na bhFiann,’ Ireland’s national anthem, as loud as they possibly could at the start of every game and then spent the whole game hilariously chirping the other team.”

Buoyed by the home crowd, Ireland won all five of its games, including a 12-2 rout of Greece in the tournament final. Galvin had three hits and two RBIs in four games played. Pitcher Keelan Smithers ’17, a former Tiger teammate, appeared in two games, tossing nine shutout innings while striking out nine. At the start of the tournament, Reece Smyth *10, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and a Woodrow Wilson School grad, threw the ceremonial first pitch to Galvin, a Wilson School major.

Galvin is an Irish-American dual citizen, and he said there are some talented native Irishmen playing baseball. The national team hosted a camp for local kids in hopes of spreading the game.

The players also toured Croke Park, an 82,000-seat stadium where the Gaelic games are played, and tried some of the traditional Irish sports. “As you might expect, we tended to be a bit better at whacking a ball with a hurley (the stick used for hurling) than kicking the ball as in Gaelic football,” Galvin said.

In Brief:

Tom Schreiber ’14
Courtesy Adam Scott/U.S. Lacrosse
Tom Schreiber ’14 scored with 0.2 seconds left to lead the United States over Canada, 9-8, in the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship final July 21 in Netanya, Israel. Schreiber, who scored 13 goals in seven games at the World Championship, was selected for the All-World team. Zach Currier ’17 played for runner-up Canada, Andrew Song ’21 competed for China, and Alistar Berven ’17 represented England in the tournament.

Five Princeton rowers won medals at the Under-23 World Championships in Poznan, Poland: David Bewicke-Copley ’20 (silver, Great Britain men’s eight); Claire Collins ’19 and Hadley Irwin ’20 (bronze, U.S. women’s eight); Emily Kallfelz ’19 (silver, U.S. women’s single sculls); and Hannah Scott ’21 (silver, Great Britain women’s pairs).   

Cat Caro ’17 and Kathleen Sharkey ’13 each assisted on goals for the U.S. national field hockey team during its four-game series against Argentina in June. The current Princeton team sent five players to U.S. development camps this summer, and three — Maddie Bacskai ’20, Mary Kate Neff ’21, and Elise Wong ’19 — were named to the under-21 national team.

Wrestler Lenny Merkin ’20 won gold in the 72 kilogram weight class (159 pounds) at the Junior Pan-Am Championships in Fortaleza, Brazil, clinching the title with an 8-0 win over Argentina’s Mauro Agusti Gonzalez Cardoz.

Women’s discus star Obiageri Amaechi ’21 won the USA Track & Field Junior Championships with a throw of 56.98 meters — a record for Ivy Leaguers — to earn a trip to the IAAF World Under-20 Championships. Amaechi placed 14th at the world meet.

Women’s soccer forward Gabi Juarez ’22 represented Mexico at the Under-20 Women’s World Cup. Mexico won its opener against Brazil but dropped group-stage games to North Korea and England. Juarez played in all three games as a substitute.

Women’s hockey has a pair of Hockey Canada national development team players in the incoming Class of 2022: Maggie Connors and Sarah Fillier. Fillier assisted on one of Canada’s goals in a three-game August series against the U.S.

Men’s volleyball setter Joe Kelly ’21 was one of 17 players named to the U.S. junior national training team. Princeton coach Sam Shweisky served as a coach during the training camp.