Dartmouth squash continues Ivy League play this weekend

by Nathan Albrinck | 1/9/17 2:10am

Entering Coach Hansi Wiens’ eighth season at the helm of Dartmouth squash, one year after the men’s team finished seventh in the country and the women’s team won the Kurtz Cup to finish ninth, both the men’s and women’s teams have high expectations. In the process, Wiens also won Ivy League Coach of the Year in 2016.

“Our main target is to be in the top eight and compete for the national championship and have a chance to upset some teams and really play well,” Wiens said. “Everything is open.”

For the men’s squash team, the Potter Cup is an eight team bracket-style playoff used to determine the national champion. The Howe Cup is the women’s equivalent.

In the previous six years under Wiens, the men’s and women’s sides have each finished in the top eight in three of those years in the regular season. This year, both teams are currently ranked ninth in the country as of the latest polls, with key Ivy League matches against Princeton University on Jan. 14 and the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 15.

The Dartmouth men’s squash team, led by co-captains Glen Brickman ’17 and Nick Harrington ’17 , opened its season with two of its toughest matches of the season, against No. 3 University of Rochester and No. 1 Trinity College, who have been the winners of 15 of the last 18 National Championships. Though the team lost 9-0 in both matches, Harrington still values the matchups as crucial for the team’s development.

“It’s great to get experience playing those guys because it might be a 9-0 or 8-1 score, but a lot of those matches are a lot closer individually, and then when you play UPenn or Princeton or teams near us, it gives us a chance to assert ourselves,” Harrington said. “We always have a chance to play and beat good teams.”

Wiens reinforced the importance of facing tough competition for the team’s growth.

“We want to move up the rankings and get better,” Wiens said. “To do that, we have to beat tough teams above us, so we try to schedule tough matches to show them how hard they have to train and how well they have to play to be right up there at the top of the nation.”

In the team’s two subsequent matches, it earned its first wins of the season, beating No. 13 Franklin and Marshall University 8-1 and No. 14 United States Navy Academy 7-2. On Dec. 7, the Big Green opened up Ivy League play against No. 5 Harvard with an 8-1 loss. The lone win was by Brian Giegerich ’18 over Harvard’s Mandela Patrick.

With all eight Ivy league teams ranked in the top 16 in the country, each match has been a battle.

“There’s never an easy day in a college squash match,” Harrington said. “You need to go into every match with the same intensity and the same focus. A lot of our training has been geared towards holding back the teams one, two, three spots behind us and also looking to grab a few matches against the teams ahead of us. We’ve trained hard, spent a lot of hours together and are really excited about the next eight or so weeks.”

The Dartmouth women’s squash team, led by captain Jacqueline Barnes ’17, opened its season at home on Dec. 3 against No. 3 Trinity, losing 7-2. Emma Roberts ’19 and Maddie Fraser ’17 for the Big Green. The next day, the team notched its first win of the season against No. 14 Franklin and Marshall 8-1. In its third match of the season and last before winter break, Dartmouth faced off against Harvard, losing 9-0 .

Julia Herman ’20 is looking forward to the rest of the season.

“I think everyone wants to do at least as well as they did last season because a lot of the freshman recruits are really strong this year,” Herman said.

With the bulk of conference play ahead, Wiens feels confident about each of the upcoming matchups.

“On the women’s side, Harvard is very strong — they beat us,” Wiens said. “Princeton is beatable. [UPenn] is very strong. [Against] Columbia [University], we have a chance. Cornell [University] — who we haven’t beat in many years ­— I think we can beat this year. Yale is also pretty strong. I think we have a chance against most of them. A lot of it depends on the day.”

Over winter break, the teams traveled to Boca Raton, Florida to take their minds off exams, enjoy the warm weather and start to focus on the rest of the season.

“It was tough. We had two sessions every day, hitting every day,” Wiens said. “They were training very hard. We will see how much it helps to finish our season strong over the next five to six weeks.”

The squads will play at home on Feb. 4 to 5 against conference opponents Cornell and Columbia, respectively. In addition, at the end of the season following the team championships, Dartmouth will host the Men’s and Women’s Individual Squash Championships from Mar. 3 to 5.