The University of Pennsylvania men’s squash team looked to return to the top of the nation rankings in 2004-05. Return they did, as the Quakers closed out the season with a 9-4 overall record and a 3-2 mark against Ivy League competition. The Red and Blue also wrapped up the season with a No. 5 national ranking by the College Squash Association.
Starting On A High Note
To open the season, the Quakers defeated Cornell, 7-2. It was the first time that the Red and Blue had defeated the Big Red during Head Coach Craig Thorpe-Clark’s tenure. Seniors Rich Repetto, Eric Bardawil and Drew Crockett, along with juniors Jacob Himmelrich and Colby Emerson as well as sophomores Gilly Lane and Ben Ende all had wins in the victory over Cornell. Penn had five 3-0 victories in the match. That same day, the Quakers swept all nine matches, 3-0, against Haverford to close out their first day of competition on a high note.
It was then on to Yale, where the Quakers fell to the No. 3 Bulldogs, 7-2. Repetto earned Penn’s first point with a 3-2 victory in the second position while freshman Lee Rosen swept his opponent at No. 3, 3-0, for Penn’s second point of the day. Himmelrich and Ende both fell in close five-set matches in the loss. The Red and Blue quickly bounced back from the loss, defeating Brown the following day, 9-0. Six Quakers won their matches, 3-0, in the victory.
Coming Back Strong
Three more sweeps after returning from a month-long break would bring the Quakers record to 6-1. The Red and Blue defeated Navy, Amherst and George Washington, 9-0, before embarking on a tough road trip. Penn fell to No. 1 Trinity, 9-0. The Quakers dropped all 27 points of the match before suffering a tough 6-3 loss at Princeton that same week. Rosen, Spencer Kurn and Drew Crockett each earned wins in the loss to the Tigers. The Red and Blue bounced back with a commanding 9-0 victory at Franklin and Marshall, with all nine Quakers earning 3-0 wins.
It was then back to the Ringe Courts, where Penn defeated Williams, 6-3. Lane had a 3-0 victory at No. 1, while Repetto, Ende, Himmelrich and Kurn followed him down the lineup with victories over their respective opponents. Will Simonton closed out the match in the ninth position with a 3-0 win. That same weekend, Penn fell to Harvard, 8-1. Simonton had the only victory for the Quakers in the match, a 3-2 win over Ryan Abraham. The following day, Penn wrapped up the dual-match season with a 5-4 win over Dartmouth. Repetto took his match, 3-0, at No. 2 while Ende won, 3-1, at No. 3 to give the Quakers an early lead. Dartmouth then pulled ahead, 3-2, before the Quakers took three of the remaining four matches to clinch the win. Kurn, Emerson and Crockett each won to give the Red and Blue the victory.
Five Man Teams
Following the conclusion of the dual-match season, the Quakers competed at the Five Man Teams. The first team defeated Yale’s first team, 3-2, on the first day with wins by Repetto and Rosen as well as Kurn while the second team defeated Hamilton, 4-1. Sophomore Graham Bassett and freshmen Pierce Cravens, Suleyman Saleem and Rahil Shah all notched victories in the win. The first team advanced to the semifinals of the “A” division, where it then fell to No. 1 Trinity, 5-0. The second team advanced to the finals of the “B” division after defeating Albany, 3-2, in the semifinals. The Quakers fell in the final, 5-0, to Bates.
Clenching A Top Spot
It was then on to Boson, Mass. for the College Squash Association Team Championships. In the first round Penn faced off against a strong Princeton squad, falling 8-1. Ende had a 3-1 win at the No. 5 position for the Red and Blue’s only point of the match. In the consolation round, the Quakers defeated Dartmouth, 7-2, to advance to the final. Rosen, Himmelrich and Crockett each swept their Big Green counterparts in the win. Repetto, Ende, Kurn and Bassett all collected wins in the match to give Penn forward momentum heading into the final.
Penn’s team season ended exactly the same way it began all those months before, with a 7-2 victory over Cornell. At the first two positions, Lane and Repetto each swept their opponents, 3-0. Himmelrich took the No. 4 match, 3-0, while Ende became the only Quaker to win all three of his matches of the week with a 3-0 win at No. 5. Bardawil and Crockett took tight 3-2 matches in the seventh and eighth positions to close out their collegiate careers while Bassett earned the final point with a 3-1 victory at No. 9. With the win Penn finished the season with a No. 5 national ranking, the team’s highest end of the season ranking in over 10 years.
Said Thorpe-Clark of the win, “I’m just delighted with the result. The team played great. It was a great comeback after the loss to Princeton, to beat both Dartmouth and Cornell with scores of 7-2. It was a fitting end to the season. The team worked hard and played hard and it was a great result.”
Four Quakers continued play after the Team Championships and wrapped up 2004-05 at the College Squash Association Individual Championships. In the first round of play, Ende fell to the No. 5 seed, 3-0. Repetto, seeded 15th headed into the tournament, fell to the No. 18 seed, 3-1. He then advanced to the consolation quarterfinals after defeating Himmelrich, who had fallen to the No. 2 seed, 3-0. Lane was the only Quaker to have a win in the championships bracket. The No. 12 seed in the competition, Lane defeated Nick Chris of Yale, 3-0. He then fell to the No. 5 seed, 3-2, after winning the first two sets.
However, that was not the end of the road for the Quakers. Lane went on to earn Academic All-Ivy honors, All-Ivy honors and was an All-American with his 8-10 overall record and 2-4 mark against Ivy competition.
While the Quakers lose four seniors who made an indelible impact on the program, a solid core of underclassmen should help Penn to stay in the top of the national rankings in the years to come.
Written by Jennifer Hildebrand, athletic communications assistant