Tuesday, February 21, 2012

41 And Counting

TigerBlog's exercise of choice is squash.

When he tells the non-believers about the sport, the first response is always the same: Isn't that like racquetball?

Well, no, it's not. They're both played on courts where there are four walls and involve hitting a ball, though that's where it ends.

In racquetball, the ball does all the work, bouncing like mad all over the place.

In squash, if you take a ball before a match and drop it on the floor, it will hardly bounce at all. As the match goes on and the ball gets hotter, it starts to bounce more, but it's still the players who have to chase it all over the court to make shots.

Also, in squash, the shot has to be above the tin, which is 12 inches off the court.

There's something addictive about the game. Basically anyone here who gives it a chance gets hooked.

And why not? It's a great workout. And it's competitive.

If you don't think it is, try playing with former men's hockey coach Guy Gadowsky, or current basketball coaches Mitch Henderson and Brian Earl.

TB watched the squash championships here this past weekend - you know, the ones where Princeton ended Trinity's 13-year run as national champion - and thought that those guys were playing something of a different sport than TB when he plays.

It's not that they hit the ball so much harder. It's not even that they put the ball anywhere they want every time.

It's that they can cover any part of the court, have way fewer mis-hits and return almost any shot. TB? He can't do any of those things consistently, especially the court coverage part.

In watching them play, TB sometimes wondered if some of the points were ever going to end, as the players effortless tracked down shots that TB would never dream of reaching, extending the play what seemed like an eternity.

In the end, it came down to a perfect drop shot from Princeton's Kelly Shannon, and that was that.

For Princeton, it extended the rather remarkable national championship streak, one that dates back now 41 straight years with at least one team or individual who won one.

For the record, this does not mean an NCAA championship. Squash, for instance, is not an official NCAA sport.

It is, though, 41 straight years with at least one team or individual national champion in a varsity sport, which is remarkable.

Each year, TB wonders if this will be the one where the program's long-running streaks of success come to an end. In addition to the national championship streak, Princeton has also won the Ivy League's unofficial all-sports points championship 25 straight years.

This year, Princeton had a few other opportunities for national champions, even if squash didn't win. It could have come down to the very end, when Donn Cabral and Conor McCullough could win NCAA track and field titles.

This time, though, the streak was pushed forward in February, thanks to the men's squash team.

For the record, here is the complete list:

2012 - men's squash
2011 - Todd Harrity (squash), women's open rowing (1st varsity 8)
2010 – men’s lightweight rowing
2009 – men’s lightweight rowing, women’s squash
2008 – women’s squash
2007 – women’s squash
2006 – women’s open rowing (1st varsity 8), Yasser El Halaby (squash),
2005 – Yasser El Halaby (squash)
2004 – Yasser El Halaby (squash)
2003 – women’s lightweight rowing, women’s lacrosse, Yasser El Halaby (squash)
2002 – women’s lightweight rowing, women’s lacrosse, Tora Harris (indoor and outdoor high jump)
2001 – women’s lightweight rowing, men’s lacrosse, Soren Thompson (epee fencing), David Yik (men’s squash
2000 – women’s lightweight rowing, Eva Petchnigg (foil fencing), Julia Beaver (women’s squash), Peter Yik (men’s squash
1999 – women’s squash, women’s lightweight rowing, Julia Beaver (women’s squash), Peter Yik (men’s squash)
1998 – men’s lacrosse, men’s heavweight rowing, men’s lightweight rowing, women’s squash
1997 – men’s lacrosse, Katherine Johnson (women’s squash)
1996 – men’s lacrosse, men’s lightweight rowing, men’s heavyweight rowing, Max Pekarev (saber fencing)
1995 – women’s open rowing
1994 – men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s lightweight rowing, women’s open rowing, Harald Winkmann (epee fencing)
1993 – men’s squash, women’s open rowing
1992 – men’s lacrosse
1991 – women’s squash
1990 – women’s open rowing, men’s swimming 200-yard medley relay (Mike Ross, Ty Nelson, Leroy Kim, Erik Osborn)
1989 – men’s lightweight rowing , women’s squash, Demer Holleran (women’s squash), Jeff Stanley (men’s squash), men’s swimming 200-yard medley relay (Mike Ross, Ty Nelson, Rich Korhammer, Rob Musslewhite)
1988 – men’s lightweight rowing, Jeff Stanley (men’s squash)
1987 – Demer Holleran (women’s squash)
1986 – men’s lightweight rowing, Demer Holleran (women’s squash)
1985 – men’s heavyweight rowing
1984 – women’s squash
1983 – women’s squash
1982 – men’s squash
1981 – women’s squash, John Nimik (men’s squash)
1980 – women’s squash
1979 – women’s squash
1978 - women’s squash
1977 – men’s squash
1976 – women’s squash, Nancy Gengler (women’s squash)
1975 – women’s squash, men’s squash, Wendy Zaharko (women’s squash)
1974 – women’s squash, men’s squash, Wendy Zaharko (women’s squash)
1973 – women’s squash, Cathy Corcione (100 butterfly, 100 free), 200-yard freestyle relay (Cathy Corcione, Jane Fremon, Barb Franks, Carol Brown)
1972 – Wendy Zaharko (women’s squash), Charlie Campbell (200-yard backstroke)

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