After a two year absence, Gilman wins its 11th MIAA squash championship
by Gary Adornato
For the first 10 years that squash was a sanctioned varsity sport in the MIAA, it was the sole domain of Gilman School. Not only did the Greyhounds win the first 10 league championships, they never lost a single match or set in that period of time.
McDonogh ended Gilman’s reign of dominance in 2018 and the Eagles repeated as champions last year. Thursday night at Meadow Mill Athletic Club, however, Gilman reclaimed its throne, defeating second-seeded St. Paul’s, 6-1, to capture its 11th MIAA squash title.
Leading off on Court 4, Gilman’s No. 2 player, Winston Park, delivered the first team point of the evening with an 11-2, 11-3, 11-6 win over the Crusaders’ Hao Cui. Shortly thereafter, the Greyhounds’ James Zollinger (No. 6) defeated Charlie Carliss, 11-8, 11-9, 11-1, to make it 2-0.
Park said he was looking to get his team off to a quick start.
“It was a pretty good match,” said Park. “Hao is a really great player. He was hitting a lot of cool shots out there. I wanted to move myself quickly and move the ball around a lot in order to win.”
With several other matches well underway, Gilman’s No. 1, Ned Gildea, took to Court 4, and quickly finished off St. Paul’s Jake Trone, 11-4, 11-7, 11-6, to stretch the Greyhounds’ lead to 3-0.
Gildea is a senior captain on a young team, who was a freshman on the Greyhounds’ last championship team. He said it is an honor to play a prominent role.
“It means a lot to play No. 1 for this team,” said Gildea, who will go on to play at Dartmouth College. “Gilman is such a great squash program. I won it my freshman year, playing No. 6, and to bring it back to Gilman, playing No. 1 as a senior captain, it is a special time at Gilman.”
Although the team is still very young, Gildea said the current group of Greyhounds has come of age quickly.
“The team was really young,” added Gildea. “When I was a freshman, when we won the last championship, the team was really old. We had a lot of seniors. Four of the top seven were seniors. Now, we’re a really young team and we’re looking forward to championships in the future.”
The championship was clinched at No. 4 when Gilman’s Will Rice completed a come-from-behind, 11-13, 11-3, 6-11, 11-4, 11-3 win.
St. Paul’s got on the board with a brilliant comeback win by Brett Poles, it’s No. 7 player. Poles was down 2-0 to Gilman’s John Williams before rallying for a 10-12, 6-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-7 victory.
Gilman’s scoring was rounded out by No. 3 Tommy Soltanican’s 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 win over Natty Dunn and No. 5 Jason Sutton’s 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 win over Nicholas Gilman.
“We have a very cohesive team. It’s very supportive,” said Gilman coach Doug DeSmit. “The league itself is helpful in terms of being focused. St. Paul’s has come right up there and McDonogh has always been good. So, the focus we’ve been able to have to get back to the top level has been tremendous this year.”
Both squads will battle again next week in the league’s individual championships and then could face each other once more, when they both travel to Connecticut to compete in the nationals in two weeks. Both teams have been seeded in the eight-team Division II field.
While Gilman has risen back to a position it once dominated, St. Paul’s has risen from virtually no where.
“It’s been an amazing season this year for St. Paul’s,” said Crusaders head coach Eric Roberts. “This year we split with McDonogh and we were able to win 4-3 in the semifinals. We were very excited to face Gilman. Both times we lost in the regular season we were able to get a point off of them. We were the only team to do that and we did it again tonight. It was great the way our boys fought.”
Pictured above: Gilman’s No. 1 Ned Gildea strikes a back-hand during his straight set win over Jake Trone in the MIAA Squash Championship Match.
MIAA VARSITY SQUASH CHAMPIONSHIP
(at Meadow Mill Athletic Club)
GILMAN 6, ST. PAUL’S 1
1. Ned Gildea (GIL) def. Jake Trone, 4, 7, 6
2. Winston Park (GIL) def. Hao Cui, 2, 3, 6
3. Tommy Soltanican (GIL) def. Natty Dun, 7, 5, 2
4. Will Rice (GIL) def. Aidan Ray, (11), 3, (6), 4, 3
5. Jason Sutton (GIL) def. Nicholas Gilman, 8, (8), 6, (8), 8
6. James Zollinger (GIL) def. Charlie Carliss, 8, 9, 1
7. Brett Poles (SP) def. John Williams, (10), (6), 12, 8, 7