For four years, the Princeton High golf team was as dominant as any program in the state.
The players changed from year to year. But each time one great player would be replaced by another as the Little Tigers rattled off an impressive string of accomplishments over a four-year period.
Princeton was a perfect 71-0 against Colonial Valley Conference competition over the four years from 2005 to 2008. The team also made the Tournament of Champions three times and captured a pair of state Group III state titles, winning in 2007 and 2008.
On Saturday, the team members over the four-year period will be part of the latest class inducted in the Princeton High Athletic Hall of Fame. They are part of a class that also includes former athletes Chris Cahill (lacrosse), Sue Lofgren (diving), Kesti Ringland (track and field), Chris Hoeland (tennis), Libby Bliss (track and field), and Sam Kotowski (soccer).
The Hall of Fame Awards Dinner and Banquet will take place at Mercer Oaks Country Club in West Windsor from 6-10pm.
“It’s a great honor to be inducted in to the PHS Hall of Fame,” said Mike DiMeglio, who was part of the 2006 team that went 18-0. “It’s also something that we all rightfully deserve as all of us worked so hard and practiced so much to achieve our goals. It wasn’t given to us. We made it happen through dedication and a relentless work ethic to always be better.”
What made Princeton’s four-year run so impressive is the team was made up of golfers who were also good athletes off the golf course as well. Many played multiple sports and all got into golf during the period of time where Tigers Woods was playing well and creating more and more interest in the sport.
“Most of us grew up watching Tiger and were inspired by him,” said Jason Barry, who was also a member of the 2006 team. “I know I wanted to copy everything he did. The fist pumps, the club twirls, walking after shots, refusing to ever quit, and his hatred for losing. Although none of us turned out to be the next Tiger, he helped all of us as competitors. When we went undefeated for an entire season it was one of the greatest feelings ever.”
Added DiMeglio: “Tiger really inspired us all and saw us change from youth sport baseball players and hockey players to full-time dedicated golfers. As time will go and new generations will come our names will forever be etched into PHS sports history long after our time. That’s something that never can be taken away and something we’ll cherish for a lifetime.”
Barry has become one of the top teaching professionals in the region and is also in his fifth year as the head coach at Rider University. Former PHS players Jordan Gibbs and Kyle Rascavage are also working in the golf industry.
Over the four-year run of success, many players contributed for the Little Tigers. The Class of 2006 included Barry, Michael Cho, DiMeglio, Jason Doub, Jordan Gibbs, Greg Heisen, Casey Huckel, Kyle Rasavage, Drew Roebling and Kyle White.
The Class of 2007 included George Graham & Peter Teifer. The Class of 2008 was made up of Jon Bichsel, Scott Gross, Will Madden and Curtis Smith, while the Class of 2009 included Tucker Anderson, Brian Dunlap, Zack Kleinbart and Nick Stiles. The Class of 2010 included Meru Bhanot, Connor Finn, Kyle Walsh and Chris Yang, while the Class of 2011 included Fraser Graham and Marshall Crane. Sheryl Severance coached the team through its run of success.
Smith, Teifer and Bichsel were all first-team all-state selections during their careers.
“Playing for Princeton will always be one of the best experiences of my life,” Barry said.
“All of us were highly competitive and had nearly as much interest in beating each other as we did our opponents. We wanted to win in whatever we did. If we were playing a money match at TPC Jasna Polona, pick up basketball, video games, even a coin toss, we just hated losing.
“We had a great group of guys who were all really close. In the summer we played golf together every day, traveled to tournaments, camps, and our favorite was to watch Tiger on TV. Sometimes we would just hang out and have fun. That’s how close we were.”
Princeton won the prestigious Cherry Valley Tournament three straight years. The team played in an era where Mercer County had some of the top golf teams in the state. The Little Tigers won the team title in 2004, 2005 and 2007, holding off talented teams from West Windsor-Plainsboro South, West Windsor-Plainsboro North, Peddie and Hopewell Valley among others.
“Our team had a lot of depth and It helped push everyone to keep their games in shape,” Barry said. “You knew if you had a bad stretch in season you could be sitting out a match or two until you started playing better.
“To be inducted into the PHS hall of fame, next to guys who I consider to be like brothers, is an honor I will cherish for the rest of my life.”