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Gilman squash continues to dominate

Gilman senior Davis Owen helped the Greyhounds to MIAA and Division III squash championships. He will play the sport at U.S. Naval Academy.
Gilman senior Davis Owen helped the Greyhounds to MIAA and Division III squash championships. He will play the sport at U.S. Naval Academy. (Noah Scialom, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Gilman squash coach Boo Smith isn't sure which was more impressive -- the consistency and leadership of his No. 1 player and U.S. Naval Academy-bound senior Davis Owen or the 24-0 season put together by sophomore Braxton Antill.

They were at the centerpiece of another dominant Greyhounds' season. Gilman won not just one championship but two.

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Gilman captured its eighth consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association squash crown.

The Greyhounds also captured the Division III title in the U.S. High School Team Squash National Championships at Trinity University in Harford, Conn.

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Gilman defeated Kent School, of Connecticut, 4-3, for the title.

Further, it was Smith's youngest team in 11 years.

Gilman's seven-player starting lineup featured four sophomores, Antill, Brad Levin, Wiatt Hinton and Matt Katz and a freshman, Will Dewire.

"These kids have worked very, very hard," Smith said. "They've had really good focus and it was rewarding up at the nationals. It wasn't easy. We won four to three. It could have gone either way."

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Highly regarded Kent showed its muscle.

"The school we played had three Egyptians in the lineup," Smith said of the elite-level players. "They beat our tops guys at one, two and three."

The deciding match against Kent came down to the match at No. 4 singles and freshman Dewire.

His performance secured the national title for the Greyhounds.

"There was tremendous pressure on him, but he played very well," Smith said. "He held up and won in three games."

Smith's run of strong showing at nationals and conference championships have been led by standout players.

Owen is the latest. He compares favorably with a few who have gone on to to play at Princeton.

"Davis is a good student of the game," Smith said. "Everybody says squash is a chess match. He has a nice mixture of shots. He can really get to the ball and keep it in play. He can wear you down, and if you make mistakes, you will lose to him."

Owen finished the season 19-5. So did Levin. Hinton, Dewire and Ford were 23-1 while Katz went 18-6.

But Antill's season jumped out at Smith.

"For Braxton to hang in there for 24 games is pretty amazing," Smith said. "We went to a tough Mercersburg tournament, played some out-of-league games, which are always tough and the nationals are grueling. Each one of players who lost one game picked up their loss to nationals."

Gilman should be formidable again in 2016 and beyond.

"I am only graduating one senior and next year, I am graduating only one junior," Smith said. "Usually, we lose two to four players."

Over at Roland Park Country School, the Reds won the Division II national championship at Trinity University in Harford, Conn.

Roland Park had the most experienced lineup in coach Pat Wong's nine seasons.

It included two juniors, her daughter Casey, Julia Potter and seniors Julia Garber, Katie Clements, Caroline East, Meredith Kuser and Allie Graul.

"Most of the team is seniors and they have played all four years," said Pat Wong, whose team also won a Division II national crown in 2010. "They have become really good squash players. I have a special group of players and I knew at the beginning of the year, they could win a national championship."

Roland Park beat defeated Hopkins School, of New Haven, Conn.

The Reds prevailed, 4-3, as Wong, East, Potter and Kuser won matches.

"It's quite an accomplishment to win a national title," Pat Wong said. "It's really hard to do because you run into teams where all the kids play squash year-round. The competition is at another level than we are used to."

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