The 2005-06 season saw the Penn men’s squash program solidify its place among the nation’s elite, finishing with a sixth-place national ranking after some memorable squash during the season.
While the team was led by a pair of All-Americans, No. 1 player Gilly Lane and No. 2 Lee Rosen, there was plenty of strength in the middle of the line-up for Quaker coach Craig Thorpe-Clark to count on. Graham Bassett went 9-5 overall and started the season off on an eight-match winning streak. Senior captain Jacob Himmelrich put up a 12-4 record and won some critical matches in team play. Ben Ende played through injury all season long to achieve a 7-7 record and a 4-2 Ivy mark. Andrew Zimmerman put together a solid freshman season by going 7-4 and a remarkable 5-1 in the always-tough Ivy League.
Penn started the season with a split at Cornell on Nov. 19. The Quakers took out the Big Red, 7-2, in the first match of the day to earn their first Ivy win, but fell to Western Ontario, 3-6, in the second match.
One of the season’s most memorable moments came early in December at Ringe Courts. With national power and fourth-ranked Yale visiting, the Quakers played the Elis to a 4-all tie with the match coming down to the No. 4 match between Spencer Kurn and Yale’s Ho Ming Chu. Kurn battled Chu down to the wire, taking his match to y coacha 2-2 tie, but falling in the fifth game 9-6. Although the Quakers took the loss, the dramatic and spirited match in front of a packed Ringe Courts proved the Quakers could play with the top teams in the nation.
The Quakers responded to the loss by reeling off a five-game win streak in which they gave up just a single match. They blanked Brown, 9-0, and Franklin & Marshall, 8-1, at home before hitting the road to dispatch of Navy, Amherst and Williams by 9-0 scorelines.
National power Trinity, which had not lost a match in 132 tries, ended the streak with a 9-0 win over Penn at Ringe, but Penn beat Haverford on the road, 9-0, four days later.
The final Ivy stretch was a tough one, with Penn dropping matches to powerful Princeton and Harvard squads, but Penn earned a win at Dartmouth, 7-2, on the final day of the regular season.
Harvard repeated its regular season result by beating Penn, 6-3, in the first round of the Team Championships, but Penn rebounded to again defeat Dartmouth, 6-3, on the second day. In the fifth-place game, though, it was an old nemesis, Western Ontario, that took out the Quakers.
Penn found some success at CSA Individuals, with three players making runs in the tournament. Lane advanced to the quarterfinals to cement his first-team All-America status, while Rosen pulled up an upset of the tournament’s 13th-seed to advance to the second round and earn second-team All-America honors. But it was Himmelrich who provided the deepest run into the tournament, going all the way to the final of the second-tier Molloy Division before falling in his final career match.
The Quakers certainly proved they could play with the nation’s elite in 2005-06. With all but one player from the starting line-up returning, and a very strong recruiting class, Penn hopes it can crack the top-five in 2006-07.