Princeton Celebrates Class Of 2024 At Gary Walters ’67 PVC Awards Banquet

The Princeton Athletics Class of 2024 gathered together on May 23, joined by family, friends, coaches and staff to celebrate their championship-caliber careers as Princeton Tigers at the 2024 Gary Walters ’67 PVC Awards Banquet inside Jadwin Gym. Over 1,000 members of the Princeton Athletics family convened to honor the team and individual successes over the careers of our seniors and present the department’s annual awards.

C. OTTO VON KIENBUSCH AWARD — KAITLYN CHEN  |  WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Presented annually to a Princeton senior woman of high scholastic rank who has demonstrated general proficiency in athletics and the qualities of a true sportswoman and is presented in memory of C. Otto v. Kienbusch ’06, friend and benefactor of women’s athletics at Princeton.
A three-time Ivy League Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Kaitlyn Chen has been the gold standard during the best stretch of Princeton Women’s Basketball history. In just three playing seasons, Chen has led the Tigers to three Ivy League titles, three Ivy League Tournament crowns and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Chen, an Anthropology major from San Marino, Calif., helped the Tigers become the first Ivy League women’s team to win NCAA Tournament games in back-to-back seasons. The two-time unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection and 2023 Ivy Player of the Year has amassed a 74-16 mark during her time at Princeton, including three Top-25 victories. The true definition of a student-athlete, Chen was named a College Sports Communicators Second Team Academic All-American as a senior, the program’s first since 2016, after finishing her Tiger career with 1,276 points and 359 assists.

WILLIAM WINSTON ROPER TROPHY –TRISTAN SZAPARY  |  MEN’S FENCING
Awarded annually to a Princeton senior man of high scholastic rank and outstanding qualities of sportsmanship and general proficiency in athletics. Presented by Mrs. William W. Roper and the Class of 1902.
Tristan Szapary’s final bouts as a member of the Princeton fencing team added him to the program’s record books for all-time when he knocked off top-seeded Henry Lawson of Harvard, 15-9, in the épée semifinals and then beat Notre Dame’s Jonathan Hamilton-Meikle 15-14, winning on a double touch to take the title. It was Princeton’s ninth individual men’s fencing national championship and first since 2012. The All-American honor that came with the NCAA title was Szapary’s second straight. Over his Tiger career, Szapary, a two-time team captain and a neuroscience major from Wynnewood, Pa., was a two-time NCAA regional champion and three-time All-Ivy League honoree, twice earning first-team honors. Szapary’s final season also saw the team return to the top of the Ivy League, winning its first men’s Ivy title since 2017. That followed a 2023 season where Szapary helped the team to a national runner-up finish at the 2023 NCAA Championships.

ART LANE ’34 AWARD — JALEN TRAVIS ’24 | FOOTBALL
Presented annually to undergraduate student-athletes in recognition of selfless contribution to sport and society.
Jalen Travis is a senior captain and offensive lineman for Princeton football. A two-time All-Ivy performer and Ivy League champion, Travis has helped guide the Tigers to a 75% winning percentage during his Princeton career. Travis was recently named the national male collegiate recipient of the Athletes For A Better World Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, which honors character, teamwork, and citizenship. Travis previously founded his own nonprofit organization, The Just Action Coalition, to engage, educate and empower youth in social justice activism in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minn. On Campus, Travis was active as a Student-Athlete Wellness Leader and co-director of the Minority Pre-Law Association. He also served as a liaison for Princeton’s Advocacy and Activism Student Board at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement and as an advisory board member for the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES). Travis has been awarded a Truman Scholarship to attend law school and pursue a career in public service. Travis is an Anthropology major pursuing a certificate in African American Studies.

CLASS OF 1916 CUP –SAM DAVIDSON ’24 | FIELD HOCKEY
Presented annually to the Princeton varsity letterwinner who has achieved the highest academic standing at graduation.
Sam Davidson is a senior captain and defender for Princeton field hockey. In her 30 career starts, she helped the Tigers to two Ivy League Championships and a 2019 postseason run that culminated in an appearance in the National Championship game. A two-time Academic All-Ivy selection, Davidson tallied 11 goals on penalty strokes during her career, converting at an impressive 90+% rate. Davidson served her team as a SCORRE leader, educating coaches and teammates on healthy relationships and building a culture of respect and inclusion. Additionally, she volunteered with the Princeton Best Buddies chapter and was a peer mentor for Princeton Women in Economics and Policy. Davidson also served on the Ivy League Field Hockey Social Justice Committee. From North Andover, Mass., Davidson is majoring in sociology.

CHRIS SAILER LEADERSHIP AWARD CO-RECIPIENT — MATT ALLOCCO ’24 | MEN’S BASKETBALL
Awarded annually to senior student-athletes who demonstrate exceptional leadership and a commitment to serving others.
Matt Allocco is a two-year team captain and two-time All-Ivy performer for Princeton men’s basketball. His senior season saw Allocco join the exclusive 50/40/90 club, becoming just the eighth player in NCAA Division I history to average shooting splits of 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free throw line while scoring 12+ points and logging 30+ minutes per game. Allocco, who never missed a game during his Princeton career and regularly guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player, was the catalyst and inspirational team leader behind one of the most successful three year stretches in program history. This 2022-2024 run saw the Tigers capture three consecutive Ivy League championships for the first time in nearly three decades. As a junior captain, Allocco led the Tigers to upset wins over No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 7 seed Missouri and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, Princeton’s first time playing in the regional round since 1967. He followed that up with a senior campaign that saw the Tigers match their best start in program history and claim an outright Ivy League title. Allocco is a sociology major from Hilliard, Ohio.

CHRIS SAILER LEADERSHIP AWARD CO-RECIPIENT — LEILANI BENDER ’24 | RUGBY
Awarded annually to senior student-athletes who demonstrate exceptional leadership and a commitment to serving others.
Leilani Bender is a senior flanker for Princeton women’s rugby. The two-year captain has been instrumental in leading the Tigers during their transition to varsity status these past two seasons. Bender garnered All-NIRA honors in Fall 2023 and was invited to participate in USA Rugby’s Talent ID camp this spring. Additionally, she has been honored with the program’s Most Versatile Player and Top Defensive Player Awards, as well as the Phil Rogers Award for leadership and sportsmanship. Bender has also been a positive force in the community, actively volunteering with Reading with the Tigers, PVC youth sports clinics and serving as a tutor and teaching assistant for middle and high school students. She is a student leader within Princeton Campus Recreation and serves with Natives of Princeton helping to bring visibility and awareness to Native and Indigenous issues. An All-Academic honoree and Shapiro Prize recipient, Bender is a civil and environmental engineering major from Honolulu, Hawaii.

FORD TIGER GAME CHANGERS AWARD — WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD | MEN’S & WOMEN’S ROWING
Presented annually to a Princeton varsity team(s) that best represents the spirit of serving the broader Princeton community.

Princeton women’s track & field has actively volunteered with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, Arm in Arm Pantry and community clean-up efforts at the Deliverance Church. They have also undertaken a series of year-long initiatives to bring awareness to cancer and cancer prevention to the campus community.

Princeton rowing continues to lead and give back with their Stem to Stern program, which has helped make the sport of rowing more accessible – as part of the program, the rowing teams transport, coach and teach both rowing and STEM curriculum to middle schoolers from Trenton multiple times a week. Additionally, the programs have developed an incredibly strong partnership with the Special Olympics of NJ, and embarked on their day of service as part of their annual training trip to Florida in concert with Arshay Cooper’s Day of Service initiative.

Click here to view a full photo gallery from the event.