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PRINCETON — What a week to be a Tiger that was.
March Madness upsets on the hardwood and a national championship 72 years in the making on the wrestling mat.
It all started on Thursday when the men’s basketball team rallied from a 12-point deficit to stun Arizona, continued on Friday with the women’s basketball team knocking off N.C. State and concluded on Saturday, when, within a matter of minutes, coach Mitch Henderson’s side reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in 56 years and Patrick Glory won a the national championship at 125-pounds.
“It’s been an exceptional 10 days,” said athletic director John Mack, who also pointed out Sondre Guttormsen winning the indoor pole vault title with a new collegiate record and the school hosting the Ivy League Basketball Tournament. “It’s the kind of success that doesn’t happen anywhere else. It highlights our broad-based commitment to having all 30 of our teams perform at a championship level.”
Mack, like many this past last week, is short on sleep. He was jetting back and forth between Sacramento for the men’s tournament and Salt Lake City where the women were stationed.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Mack said. “As an alum, to watch these guys represent the university is just inspiring and makes you proud, but then you get to work with them every day and get to know them and see the work that they put in, you want so much for them to have success.”
Princeton Athletics tweeted out a video of Mack and Henderson huddled around a phone watching Glory win the national championship.
“We had some nice runs, but that felt kind of ragtag compared to this,” said Henderson, who was part of NCAA Tournament wins as a player in 1996 and 98. “This is pretty special.”
Glory said he saw the video and got a kick out of it because he was watching the men’s team finish off its victory over Missouri before he went to warm up.
“It goes to show you how much it means to all of Princeton Athletics,” Glory said. “They did something that is so amazing and unprecedented on the basketball-side of things and the first thing they do is think about wrestling. It’s so cool.”
Glory defeated Purdue’s Matt Ramos, 4-1, in the final to become the program’s first national champion since Bradley Glass in 1953.
“Everybody asks me how does it feel, but I don’t really know how to answer that because it doesn’t feel like it actually happened,” said the senior, who is one of just four-time All-Americans. “The outpouring of support and love and everyone just coming together is so amazing.”
Now the focus shifts toward men’s basketball in the Sweet 16 on Friday night against Creighton.
An orange and black takeover of Louisville is incoming.
“It was overwhelming the number of texts and calls and emails from people who are planning to come or wish they could come,” Mack said. “This is something we haven’t experienced here in 20-some odd years. It looked like a mini-reunion in Sacramento, so I can only imagine what Louisville is going to be like.”
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