Three Cheers for our Cap Olympians

By Jotham Johnson ’64

2012-Summer-Olympics-Opening-CeremonyWe are very proud to report that at the London Olympics last summer, four of the 16 Princetonians competing in the Olympics were Cap & Gowners, and 3 of the 4 medaled! Rowers Andreanne Morin ’06 and Lauren Wilkinson ’11 earned Silver Medals as members of the Canadian Eight, and soccer player Diana Matheson ’08 scored the loan goal for Canada in their Bronze Medal-winning game against France. Donn Cabral ’12, who earlier in the summer won the NCAA Championship in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, finished 8th in the Olympic steeplechase.

Some of us also might recall that Jed Graef ’64 won the Gold Medal in the 200 Backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964; that Ross Wales ’69 won a Bronze Medal in the 100 Butterfly at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968; and Nelson Diebel ’96 won the Gold Medal in the 100 Breaststroke in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Any Cap members who can give us more information on any other Cap Olympians, from 1896 onwards, please send a note with any recollections to me at jotham.johnson@gmail.com.

Donn Cabral ’12
3,000-meter steeplechase

Donn CabralDonn Cabral grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut, and is a graduate of Glastonbury High School, where he won numerous state and national track and cross country championships, competed in the 2008 World Junior Track & Field Championship in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and was named a high school All-American. He entered Princeton in the Fall of 2008 with the Class of ’12 and continued to compile an extraordinary record as one of Princeton’s — and the nation’s — most celebrated runners. An economics major, who earned a certificate in Russian Studies and was a member of Cap & Gown, he was an eight-time IVY Champion in cross country, the 5,000-meter run, the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 10,000-meter run, as well as a four-time champion at the Penn Relays, where he was named the 2012 Penn Relays MVP. Donn captured the 2012 NCAA Championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, setting an American collegiate record in the process, and he was the first Princeton runner to win an NCAA Championship in track since Bill Bonthron ’34 in 1934. At Commencement, he was named a recipient of the Roper Award in recognition of his athletic achievements and his high academic standing, the highest award a male athlete at Princeton can receive. Donn qualified second in the Olympic Trials and was named to the USA Olympic Team which competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England where he qualified for the finals in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and after taking an early lead fell back and finished 8th overall, seven seconds behind Gold medalist Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya. Now enjoying Nike’s corporate sponsorship, he has moved to Bellingham, Washington to train and compete professionally with his sights set on the 2016 Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Lauren Wilkinson ’11
Silver, rowing

Lauren WilkinsonLauren Wilkinson hails from Vancouver, British Columbia and attended Crofton House School in Vancouver before attending Princeton. She was a School Prefect as well as the recipient of numerous academic and athletic awards at Crofton House, including the Head of School Prize and both the Athlete-of-the-Year Award and the Wallinger Trophy for her “all-around academic and athletic excellence.” Throughout secondary school, she rowed for both Crofton House and the Canadian National Junior team. She majored in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Princeton and was a stalwart on the Princeton Rowing team. During her years at Princeton, she was also a curator of the James S. Hall ’34 Memorial Gallery at Butler College, an active member of the Princeton Canadians Club, a Frist building supervisor, and a member of Cap & Gown.

Rowing runs in the Wilkinson family. Both of her parents rowed on the Canadian National team and her father, David Wilkinson, was named to the 1980 Canadian Olympic Crew, but was thwarted by the boycott of the Moscow Olympics. Two older brothers are also accomplished rowers. Her brother, Michael, is a Canadian National team rower and 2012 Olympian. Lauren received the Bobby Pearce Award in 2005 as Canada’s Top Junior Female Sculler, and the Hanlan-Keller Award in 2006 as the Top Canadian Female Junior Rower. At Princeton, she was an All-IVY and All-American rower and in her senior year was the recipient of the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award as one of the most outstanding female athletes in the senior class. Her senior year, she stroked the Varsity Eight to wins in both the IVY League and the NCAA Championships to cap off a stellar career as one of Princeton’s most celebrated rowers.

Upon graduation in 2011, she headed straight to London, Ontario, to train with the Canadian team for the U-23 World Championships in Amsterdam. After stroking the Canadian Eight to a Gold Medal and a world-best time at the U-23’s, she was invited to join Canada’s Senior National team as a spare for the Senior World Championships in Bled, Slovenia. Seven months later, she was named to Canada’s Olympic Eight and competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London where the Canadian Crew captured the Silver Medal. She is now pursuing graduate studies at the University of British Columbia in Microbiology & Immunology. She maintains close ties to the Rowing BC Provincial team and Clean Air Champions, a program that inspires kids to live healthy and sustainable lifestyles. She continues to train with an eye towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Diana Matheson ’08
Silver, soccer

Diana MathesonA native of Oakville, Ontario, Diana attended White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville and played club soccer at an early age. At Princeton, she was an economics major and a member of Cap & Gown, was a member of the All-IVY Academic Team her junior and senior years, and was the recipient of numerous awards for soccer, including IVY League Rookie of the Year her freshman year, a member of the All-IVY Soccer team for four consecutive years, the IVY League Player of the Year in 2007, and a 1st Team All-American. She was a starter on the 2004 Princeton soccer team which competed in the NCAA Championship Final Four, and was twice the Captain of the Princeton team. At Commencement in 2008, she was named a recipient of the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award in recognition of her athletic achievements and high academic standing, the highest award a woman athlete at Princeton can receive.

Diana was first named to the Canadian National Team in 2003 and has, so far, represented her country in 140 international matches, second all-time among Canadians. She was a stalwart on Canada’s World Cup teams in 2003, 2007 and 2011, won the Gold Medal in the 2011 Pan Am Games in Mexico, and was a member of Canada’s Olympic team in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012. Her game-winning goal against France in London earned Canada the Bronze Medal and world-wide acclaim. Five years after her last Princeton game, her Princeton coach, Julie Shackford, observed, “We’re all so proud of her, that she was able to grace our field for four years….we were excited and humbled.” Diana continues to play for her professional team in Norway, LSK Kvinner, and has her sights set on the 2016 Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Andreanne Morin ’06
Silver, rowing

Andreanne Morin Andreanne Morin is a native of Montreal, Quebec, and attended the Study School before enrolling at Phillips Exeter Academy where she rowed on Exeter’s crews and graduated in 2000. At Princeton, she was a political economy major, was active as a leader in the Princeton Canadians student group and as a member of Cap & Gown, and interrupted her undergraduate studies in 2003-04 to train for the Olympics with the Canadian National Rowing Team. Since graduating from Princeton in 2006, she has gone on to study law at the Université de Montreal and expects to complete her legal studies in 2013.

She was first introduced to rowing at the age of 16 at the 1976 Olympic Basin in Montreal. Within two years, she found herself on the Canadian Junior National Team competing at the Junior World Championships in Linz, Austria in 1998 and again in 1999 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She was named to Canada’s Senior National Team at the age of 19 and over the last ten years has skillfully juggled her academic obligations at Princeton and the Université de Montreal while training with Canada’s National Team. Among other things, she was a member of Princeton’s outstanding Open Crew in 2006 which captured the IVY Championship and went on to win the NCAA Championship.

Over the years, Andreanne has rowed for Canada in seven World Championships in Switzerland, Italy, England, Germany, New Zealand and Slovenia. She is a three-time Olympian and rowed for Canada at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and then again in Beijing in 2008 where Canada narrowly missed the medal stand. She was a proud member of Canada’s Silver Medal-winning crew at the London Olympics in 2012. In addition to being an accomplished rower, she serves currently as a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission and as Canada’s athlete delegate to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which works to keep Olympic sports clean and encourage fair play.

Earlier Cap Olympians

Nelson Diebel ‘96
Gold, swimming — 1992

Born in Chicago, Diebel began taking swimming seriously under the wing of Chris Martin, the legendary swimming coach at the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J., and an assistant for the U.S. Olympic swim team. When Diebel came to Princeton, his swimming career began to stall due to injuries. Still, Diebel refused to give up and on March 1, 1992, he swam the 100-meter freestyle in 54.48 seconds, then the fastest time ever swum by an American. Just four months later, Diebel was a member of the U.S. swim team that went to Barcelona to compete in the 1992 Summer Olympics.

In the Barcelona Olympics, Diebel won the first American gold medal of the games with a stunning upset in the 100m breaststroke. Going up against Hungarian Norbert Rozsa, the top-rated breast-stroker in the world, Diebel burst off the blocks and never looked back. He made the turn first, gained even more time on the back 50m, and beat Rozsa by almost two tenths of a second. Diebel’s 1:01:30 was an Olympic record. A few days later, Diebel won his second gold medal, swimming the breaststroke leg of the 4×100 medley relay. Diebel returned to Princeton in the fall of 1992, and swam on and off until his graduation

Ross Wales ’69
Bronze, swimming — 1992

Ross Wales grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and began swimming as an 8-year-old with the local YMCA’s Y-Neptune Club. Although his high school, Rayen School, had no swim team, he represented his school at the Ohio State High School Championships his junior and senior years and was the #1 ranked high school swimmer in the 100-yard butterfly in the USA in 1965. He won his first national championship in 1966, besting Luis Nicolao of Argentina, then the world record-holder in the 100-meter butterfly. He went on to win the NCAA Championship in the 100-yard butterfly as a sophomore at Princeton in 1967, then competed in the 1967 Pan Am Games, earning a Silver Medal in the 100-meter butterfly behind Mark Spitz. In 1968, after his junior year at Princeton, he competed for the USA in the Olympic Games in Mexico City, winning a Bronze Medal in the 100-meter butterfly.

A history major at Princeton and a member of Cap & Gown, he attended the University of Virginia Law School after graduation in 1969 before service in the U.S. Army. While in the Army, he devoted much of his time to training for international competition and represented the Army and the United States in various international competitions. His last competition was at the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials, where he narrowly missed qualifying for the Games in Munich. His son, Dod Wales, who graduated from Stanford University in 1999, captained the Stanford swim team his senior year and was the American record-holder in the 100-yard butterfly. Father and son were at that time the only father/son pair known to have won NCAA Championships in the same event. Another son, Craig Wales, Princeton ‘01, was captain of Princeton’s men’s swim team his senior year. Ross Wales is a Partner in the Cincinnati, Ohio law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.

Jed Graef ’64
Gold, swimming — 1964

Jed Graef was born and raised in Verona, N.J., and joined the Montclair YMCA swim team at age 10. While at Verona High School, Graef won the New Jersey state championship in the 100-meter backstroke, and he narrowly missed the cut for the 1960 Rome Olympics following his senior year.

After Graef’s first year at Princeton, during which he captained the freshman team, he was named the winner of the 1961 William B. Nash II Memorial Award, awarded to the top freshman swimmer. As one of only two Princeton freshmen swimmers to win a varsity letter, Graef set a national freshman intercollegiate record in the 200-meter backstroke and broke several Princeton records. That summer, Graef placed second at the U.S. nationals in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke and was ranked second in the world. Graef’s senior year, he was the captain of the Princeton team, won the 1964 NCAA 200-meter backstroke, and was awarded the 1964 War Memorial Trophy, the top swimming prize.

Graef qualified for the 1964 Olympics and traveled to Tokyo with Bill Bradley ’65, who captained the gold medal-winning men’s basketball team. Graef came home a winner as well, just beating out teammate Gary Dilley to claim gold in the 200-meter backstroke. His time of two minutes, 10.30 seconds was a new world record. That record-setting swim was his final competitive race in his career. Graef went on to graduate school and later held a variety of jobs, from college professor to computer programmer to administrator at a Zen Buddhist training center, before he finally settled on his current profession in software development.

Three Cheers for our Cap Olympians and Old Nassau!

[Thanks to the Daily Princetonian for some biographical information included in these bios.]
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.