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2014 Streak Savior Is NCAA Runner-Up

Eugene, Oregon

Last year, Julia Ratcliffe ‘16 – school record holder and world class performer in the women’s hammer throw – went to the NCAA outdoor track & field championships with the collegiate leading mark in her event. Seeking her first national collegiate title, Ratcliffe – as expected – faced special pressure as the favorite. But she carried an additional burden as well. The Tiger faithful were calling upon her to rescue The Streak as the Princeton string of producing at least one national collegiate champion – either an individual or a team – every year since 1972 was in jeopardy. The New Zealand native came through with flying colors as she claimed the hammer crown with a winning throw of 66.88m [219’5”] and added a 43rd year to Princeton’s national championship string.

Fast forward to this spring. It was déjà vu all over again: As before, all eyes turned to Ratcliffe as Old Nassau was once again champion-less as the school year was winding down. Could the New Zealand student athlete – who came to the NCAA championship meet with the 3rd best collegiate mark of 68.53 [224”10”] – successfully defend her NCAA hammer throw title and preserve The Streak for yet another year?

After leading briefly in the final with a third round throw of 67.30m [220’9”], the Princeton junior fell behind Southern Illinois junior DeAnna Price by barely more than an inch. But Price’s progressive throws leading to her 6th round NCAA championship meet record heave of 71.49m [234’6”] proved too much for the defending champion who finished 2nd.

After the competition, Ratcliffe was composed and reflective not only about her performance, but also about the end of The Streak. “I was glad she threw that,” notes Ratcliffe in referring to Price’s record throw. “Otherwise I would have been beating myself up a little bit more. I came in ranked third and came out second, so I can’t complain.” Aware of – but not obsessed with – The Streak, the Tiger thrower explained how she dealt with it. “I try not to think about these things,” Ratcliffe lightheartedly replied when asked. “It doesn’t really help me.”

Ratcliffe – who competes internationally for New Zealand, will throw later this summer in the World University Games, and hopes to qualify for the World Championships in Beijing – has planned to take the next school year off. “I’ll be at home training in New Zealand. Mom and Dad have actually just moved into a new house. And there is a little bit of land there,” notes Ratcliffe who also trains with and competes for the Hamilton City Hawks. “Dad has put a hammer circle in there. So I’ll be able to roll out of bed in the morning and go and throw. That should be quite funny. I’ll be able to train full time – as opposed to balance it with the school work – which is always an advantage.”

The economics major plans to return to Princeton and complete her undergraduate studies during the ’16-’17 school year. When she does get back to campus, might she be looking to extend – or even start – a new national collegiate championship streak for Princeton? There was no hesitation. With a quick smile, she replied, “Absolutely!”

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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