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Based on their performances during the spring track season, four Big Blue track & field athletes recently traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina to compete in the 27th New Balance Nationals Outdoor.

Dylan Cheng '18 describes why he and Upper School science teacher Graham Touhey decided to take on 12.4 miles of mud and barbed wire.

Pingry

College Athletes

Hanna Beattie

Class of 2013 - williams college, ice hockey
Hanna blazed her way onto the women's ice hockey team at Williams with as much impact as she did when she joined Big Blue. As a college freshman, she was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year—the first female hockey player at Williams to earn the award—and was a First Team All-American selection, only the fourth All-American in the history of the women's hockey program at Williams. She closed out her freshman campaign ranked second on the team in goals, assists, and points—as a defender! She also earned First Team All-NESCAC Honors both freshman and sophomore years, and has been a key player for the Ephs ever since. Her junior and senior years she was named captain.

Accolades aside, she learned many skills as a scholar athlete at Pingry that she took with her to Williams, she remarks. What were the two most significant? Proper time management and effective communication, she says. "Between school work, athletics, sleep, and social activities, it is often difficult to find time to do them all," she says. "The rigor of Pingry's academics paired with the time commitment of athletics (both in and out of school), helped direct my work ethic to ultimately become more efficient. Additionally, Pingry taught me how to successfully communicate with my peers, teachers, and coaches, which has been extremely beneficial in my time at Williams."

Her success for the Ephs hasn't overshadowed her memories playing for Big Blue. "I miss the quality time spent on buses traveling to and from games and the never-ending laughter in the locker room. I also miss our frequent Panera trips and our game-day spirit attire," she recalls.

A psychology major, she plans to work in marketing/advertising after graduation. And, of course, play hockey.

Benjamin Haltmaier

Class of 2013 - macalester college, football
Spring of his sophomore year, Macalester College soccer player Ben Haltmaier '13 was kicking with a couple of friends from the football team. The next thing he knew, he was meeting with the head coach of the college's football team. Come fall, he said goodbye to soccer and took the opportunity to serve as a kicker for the Scots instead. The three-year Big Blue varsity soccer and varsity baseball player—who, with fellow teammate Henry Flugstad-Clarke '13, helped the soccer team to two conference championships, two county championships, and one state sectional championship during his years on the team—credits Pingry with encouraging him to try new things, whether on or off the field, and teaching him the merits of time management, commitment, and finding balance.

"It's no secret that you have a lot of work at Pingry and you have as much if not more in college, so time management is extremely important," he says. "I think the pressures on and off the field at Pingry helped prepare me for life now and what it takes to be as successful as I can regardless of the situation."

During his first Macalester's football season, he was 3-of-6 in field goal attempts and made 22 out of 27 PATs. His senior year, he ranked second in the Midwest Conference in field goals, seventh in total points, and tied the school record with four field goals in a single game (the fourth was a go-ahead with less than five minutes left in the game). At one point, he ranked fifth among Division III colleges and universities in the country in field goals per game. He also played for the school's club ice hockey team, sang with their coed a cappella group—the ChroMACtics—and served as a campus tour guide.

An economics major, he is considering work in finance or graduate school. Because he transitioned from soccer to football he has a year of eligibility left, so playing a third year of football may be on the horizon.

Katie Ruesterholz

Class of 2013 - columbia university, field hockey
In her first year at Columbia University, Katie Ruesterholz ’13, who compiled 48 goals and 37 assists in her three years with Big Blue varsity, set the school record for the most number of field hockey goals scored by a freshman. The accolades piled up from there. Entering her senior year, she was the third leading career goal scorer in the history of Columbia’s field hockey program.


Captain for the Lions, she has earned All-Ivy League honors and has been named to the NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad every year of her collegiate career. A double-major in Economics and Psychology, with a concentration in Business Management, she recently accepted a marketing position with Unilever in their Future Leaders Program.

“Pingry taught me how to balance both academics and athletics, while also having time for friends and family. Most importantly, I think Pingry also shaped me into a true team player, both on and off the field. I have carried this team attitude with me throughout college, and I know that it will be fundamental to every part of my life."

She also fondly recalls the less serious moments in her career as a Big Blue scholar athlete. “Before field hockey’s final game each season, our team [at Pingry] would come together and blast Céline Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” I can vividly remember our team, arm in arm, shouting every single word to this song together, with tears in ours eyes because we didn’t want the season to end. I miss these little moments that we spent together, and I wish I could go back and do it all over again, because these moments were so special. They are Pingry memories that I will quite simply never forget.”

Justin LeAndre

Class of 2014 - Williams College, Track & Field
A four-year cross country and three-year winter and spring track runner at Pingry (and captain of all three teams his senior year), Justin LeAndre’s running career ended in a very different place from where it began.


As a freshman, he joined the cross country team. When he decided to try track his sophomore year, competing in the 3200-meter (2 miles) run, he was pretty sure his strong suit was as a distance runner, and that’s just what he focused on. Until, that is, Boys’ Varsity Cross Country and Track Coach Matt Horesta had him try the 800, a grueling, nearly all-out sprint for half a mile. Coach Horesta’s instincts were right. His junior year, Justin placed third in the event in the state group meet (he was seeded seventh), qualifying for the New Jersey Meet of Champions, and catching the eye of college coaches. By his senior year, he clinched second at the state group championship in a meet-record time, and qualified for the prestigious Emerging Elite 800-meter run at New Balance Nationals, where he ran 1:54.66, the second-fastest time in Pingry’s history.

“That was a big moment for me,” he recalls, four years later. “Coach Horesta definitely helped me to develop in an event I hadn’t before considered. I began talking with college coaches, and the door really opened for me in terms of being able to compete on a collegiate level.” (He is also quick to credit his other Pingry track & field coaches and mentors, Tom Cladek, Mark Sepkowski, and Gerry Vanasse.)

The accolades piled up from there. As a freshman at Williams, he was a member of their 4x800 NESCAC Championship team, a team that went on, the following week, to win Division III New England’s. His achievements earned him First Team All-NESCAC and All-New England honors. And that was just his freshman year.

Looking back at his Pingry athletic experiences, however, the big meets and big honors aren’t what stand out for him. “The days leading up to an important race—talking to Coach about my goals—were almost more memorable than the race itself,” he says. “That’s when the training is done, you know you’ve put in all the hard work, and Coach Horesta was always confident that I could succeed. He taught us that it’s not a question of whether you can, but whether you will.”

And when Justin is home during college breaks, he meets with Coach Horesta and his old teammates for dinner, just to talk, once again.

Madison Stevens

Class of 2014 - cornell university, tennis
Upon her arrival at Pingry as a freshman, Madison Stevens joined the Girls’ Varsity Tennis team. And she was nervous. Named first singles, she inevitably bumped other players down the ladder as a result, and she wasn’t sure how the established upperclassmen would react. Bristle at the talents of a promising newcomer they did not.


“They were so warm and welcoming, and made me so excited to start Pingry. I remember they took me out to Panera after I was named first singles—they were nothing but excited for me.”

A two-time Somerset County Athlete of the Year and two-time New Jersey state sectional champion who helped to lead her team to two state titles (2012, 2013), Madison says, looking back, the little moments stand out more than the big ones. Take, for example, the team’s match against arch rival Bridgewater her sophomore year, during their regular season. It had been years since the upperclassmen on the team had pulled out a victory over them. It came down to the wire, and the girls surrounded the last court in play, anticipating every shot. When the Pingry player won, they all stormed the court, hugging. “The state titles were exciting moments, for sure,” she says, “but these underdog experiences, the sense of family and friendship, were also really meaningful.”

Now, as the statistics major prepares to step into more of a leadership role on Cornell’s varsity tennis team, she recalls these memories playing for Big Blue well. “I really want to make the younger classes and newcomers feel welcome. I want to be the way the older Pingry girls were towards me.”

Wenrui Lu

Class of 2014 - university of pennsylvania, fencing
At his high school peak, Wenrui Lu ’14 was ranked among the top 16 nationally in his age group by the United States Fencing Association (USFA). A four-year member of Pingry’s fencing team, captain his senior year, he not only competed in every team meet, but traveled every month or two to USFA tournaments across the country, once heading as far as Portland, Oregon.

What stands out the most for him, when he recalls these competitive years? “Honestly, it’s not the big tournaments,” he says. “Pingry students and parents were always there, cheering us on, and at the end of every meet, they would bring us food. That’s one of my fondest memories. It shows what a tight-knit community we were.”

Time constraints as a student of Penn’s Wharton School of Business (he is triple majoring in finance, statistics, and operation/information systems) led him to close the chapter on his fencing career, but he, he says, he still regularly draws on many of the leadership skills he learned from being a Big Blue athlete. “I began fencing at age 12, but many of my teammates were new to the sport and had a lot to learn. I tried to put myself in their shoes, help and mentor them.” A member of Phi Gamma Nu, a business fraternity on Penn’s campus, Wharton Investment and Trading Group, and the Wharton China Business Society, he has ample opportunity to bond with and mentor students on his new campus as well. For Wenrui, even looking back on his days as an accomplished sabre fencer, that is what is most important.

“Winning a tournament was just one aspect of the game. I value the connections to the community a lot more.”

Rachel Corboz

Class of 2014 - georgetown university, soccer
Soccer is the topic of conversation for Rachel Corboz ’14 and her Georgetown roommate. Why? The two Hoya soccer players also happen to be former Big Blue teammates. When they’re not digesting their recent matches (the team finished second in the Big East Tournament in 2015, and advanced to the NCAA tournament), they’re reminiscing about their days playing soccer for Big Blue—the state title they captured their junior year, blasting music on the bus rides to games, and sharing both thrilling wins and tough losses. “We get very nostalgic,” says Rachel.

Her first year with the Hoyas she played beside her sister, Daphne, then a senior stand out on the team, who now plays professionally overseas. Still, she managed to carve out an admirable place for herself, earning selection to the Big East Freshman Team. In 2015, she earned All-American Third Team recognition as well as Big East Midfielder of the Year honors. To be sure, she has plenty of reasons to be distracted by present-day achievements. But, perhaps because her brother, Mael ’12, was also a Big Blue standout-turned-college-star (soccer is in the family’s DNA!), Pingry memories still hold strong.

The government major, environmental studies/French minor, who began playing at the age of six, keeps in touch with several former teammates, many of whom play in college. She also keeps in touch with Coach Egginton, who welcomes her back to practice with the team during summer breaks. Twenty years from now, what will she remember most about her Pingry soccer days? “The friendships—going to a school that I loved and getting to play a sport that I love with so many great friends.”