Yams hitch ride to the states
By Brendan Howe
The sweet sixteen, the Final Four and an NCAA champion is crowned. It's not basketball though, it's squash.
The Mustang men's squash team will kick off slack week Friday by venturing to Princeton, New Jersey to take on the best the American universities have to offer at the NCAA team squash championship.
Led by captain Rob Wilson, the team is seeded seventh in the tournament and is gunning for the Potter Trophy against the likes of teams from Harvard, Trinity and Princeton.
"We're going down there as underdogs," coach Jack Fairs said. "The teams in the NCAA have improved drastically over the last couple of years and are going to be really hard to beat."
The Mustangs have fared well against teams from the U.S. this season, squeaking out wins in all six matches. Yale and Brown were both narrowly defeated by Western by scores of 5-4.
The team is slated to play second-seeded Trinity in the first round, a team Western beat last year by a similar score of 5-4.
"They've loaded up this year," Fairs said. "They're going to be a lot harder to beat. They're definitely contenders for the championship."
After finishing fifth in the tournament last season the team hopes that it can do just as well this year. This will be tough but the team will be helped along by newcomers Erik Zaremba and Richard Yendall, both of whom had good showings in the Western's OUAA championship a week-and-a-half ago. Wilson noted the tournament will be valuable for the young players on the team, including Zaremba and Yendall.
"The main point of the tournament is to give some of the first-year guys some experience," Wilson said. "Half the team hasn't been down there yet. We have to get the rookies used to the pressure."
Chris Bluman is one of the players who has yet to venture to the NCAA championships.
"It's really exciting to go down there," Bluman said. "I'm really looking forward to it but I don't know what to expect."
While the tournament is a first for some it will be the last for Wilson. Currently in his final year on the team he will be representing the Mustangs for the last time in what is potentially the last tournament of his career.
"It would be nice to win the last tournament with the team," Wilson said. "But regardless of what happens it's been a great season. There's a great bunch of great guys on this team."
DAMN YANKEE DOODLERS. Rookie Richard Yendall and the Mustangs are the seventh seed in the NCAA squash championship at Princeton this weekend.