Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Amigos

Perhaps you've seen the movie "The Three Amigos." It came out in 1986 and starred Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. The plot, according to, was "Three unemployed actors accept an invitation to a Mexican village to replay their bandit fighter roles, unaware that it is the real thing."

Somehow, it got passed over during Oscars night.

Anyway, sometime after that movie was filmed, there were three baby boys born in three different continents. Mauricio Sanchez, Kimlee Wong and Hesham El Halaby grew up, respectively, in Mexico, Malaysia and Egypt. The odds of them meeting someday weren't great.

The odds of them forming the foundation of the greatest run in Princeton men's squash history weren't all that spectacular either.

Yet on Sunday, Feb. 8, they earned three of Princeton's nine wins in a sweep of Harvard to clinch the program's 15th Ivy title overall, the fourth in a row and the 20th straight Ivy League win overall. Princeton had never won four straight Ivy League titles before Sanchez, Wong and El Halaby, nicknamed "The Amigos" by head coach Bob Callahan, took their first classes on campus.

Princeton hasn't lost a title since.

Their incredible success probably hasn't garnered its just due for a handful of reasons. First of all, it is squash ... and as much as TigerBlog hates to admit it, college squash mania hasn't hit the nation yet. Timing didn't help; it's impossible to follow the greatest collegiate player of all time (and a virtual rock star on campus), Yasser El Halaby. And while Princeton has won four straight Ivy titles, it has also played in three straight national finals against Trinity, and it's 0-for-3.

All those are true, but none should tarnish the legacy of these three great players, as well as a number of talented current and former players who helped win one or several titles. The first goal for any team on campus is to win the Ivy League title. To do it four straight years is an incredible feat, which the field hockey team can attest to after winning its fourth straight title in the fall.

Winning a national title would be a wonderful ending, but Trinity isn't your average championship team. The Bantams haven't lost since the Clinton administration, and they'll bring a 198-match win streak to Jadwin next Saturday for a potential preview of the following Sunday's national final. The Amigos have come as close as anybody to breaking the streak; twice, they were part of 5-4 losses, and once all three pulled out wins in a national final.

But Trinity will be there for the next two weeks. For one night, it is proper to honor the Amigos and their historic run through the Ivy League over the last four years. It is a run of dominance that will be tough to match anytime soon, and it was led by three young men who have quietly added their championship touch to an already proud program.

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