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Oregon sqaush team quickly emerging as national contender

The atmosphere was anything but relaxing for the Oregon club squash team. Driver and team vice president Chris Cramer controlled the music, saturating the team with a heavy dose of Wiz Khalifa as the team’s van rolled down the I-5.

“At the end of the car ride, everyone was complaining because I had the same song on repeat for like a half hour,” Cramer said.

A few days later, Cramer and the rest of the squad beat USC 5-2 on the final day of the West Coast Round Robin at Stanford. The victory marked the program’s first victory as a member of  the College Squash Association (CSA).

“It was a defining moment that we were able to beat such a distinct program in just our second year,” team president Gordon Reed said.

Reed, who began playing squash as a way to help his dad improve his physical fitness, has overseen the reboot of the program after its disappearance in 2010. The team is finishing its second and final season in the “emerging club” category of the CSA, which contains programs that are in the first two to three years of existence. Before the season concludes, however, the Ducks will compete in the CSA championships in Hartford, Connecticut in the same bracket as other emerging clubs.

Naturally, picking up a victory just three weeks prior to nationals gave the team a lift.

“It definitely lifted our spirits a lot and we’re very optimistic going in to nationals now,” Cramer said. “Now we know we can dominate and get the majority of the wins that we need to succeed as a club.”

Oregon squash believes that it has a legitimate chance to win not just a game or two, but the entire tournament.

“Our advantage is how far we’ve come in so little time,” Reed said. “That makes us a lot deeper than other teams and a lot more experienced. We’re an experienced team that’s coming off a big win and coming off a successful season overall considering who we were playing.”

The pace at which the program has evolved comes as a surprise even to those on the team.

“If someone said to me my freshman year, ‘Hey, you want to play squash? You get to go to the east coast,’ I’d say, ‘I don’t know what that is,'” team secretary Mikey Casner said. “When we go to the east coast, everyone knows what it is and it’ll be nice to fly somewhere and be surrounded by other teams who are equally as excited to be there.”

Since the team is flying on a plane, of course, this trip will be quite different from past ones.

“It’s going to be a lot nicer,” Cramer said. “Gordon and I will have seats to ourselves and we just made sure that the three other members were scattered throughout the back of the plane so that we don’t have to babysit them.”

As for the music choices, Cramer said, “They are more than welcome to listen to Wiz on their own.”

Follow Jack Heffernan on Twitter @JHeffy13



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