Sporting Life

Winter sports highlights: 2016

A national squash title, a sub-four mile, and some good hockey.

Evan Frondorf ’14 is a research fellow at the University of California.

Sam Rubin ’95

Sam Rubin ’95

Kah Wah Cheong ’17 in the match that won a national championship for Yale squash. View full image

Men’s squash

Kah Wah Cheong ’17 didn’t think he’d have to play for a national championship. With Yale ahead four matches to two in a best-of-nine contest against Rochester in the finals of the College Squash Association tournament, Cheong hoped his teammates would close out the victory before his match on Court 3 of Yale’s Brady Squash Center was over. The junior soon found out that with the overall score tied 4–4, his game would decide the match and the national title. “After the first set, all the crowd managed to move over to my court,” says the Malaysia native. “I was the last man standing.”

In the fourth and decisive set, match point was replayed three times before Cheong coolly claimed victory. Then the floodgates opened: a sea of teammates rushed Cheong, the joyous mob pushing him into the court’s back corner. Yale had just won its first national men’s squash championship since 1990. Brady Squash Center had not seen that much excitement since 2012, when men’s squash ended Trinity’s streak of 252 wins, the longest run in college sports history. That match had been another 5–4 thriller—but this win was sweeter. “To be the best in the nation is always a goal we set for ourselves,” says team captain Sam Fenwick ’16.


Track and field

In March, James Randon ’17 achieved a personal milestone in middle-distance running: he broke the four-minute mile. With a time of 3:58.85, Randon won the mile run at the indoor IC4A Championships in Boston by almost four seconds. “I’ve been dreaming about this forever,” says Randon. “My phone pass code was 3-5-9. Even today, I get excited thinking about how I was finally able to do it.”

The performance was Yale’s first sub-four mile. Randon had been approaching the mark for years. Just four weeks earlier, he had run an ever-so-close 4:00.53. “A lot of getting from 4:05 or four-flat to below that barrier is—” he hesitates. “I wouldn’t call it luck. If you put in the work and you believe you have the potential to do it, it’s all about getting into the right race at the right time.”


Men’s hockey

Another year, another NCAA Tournament trip for men’s hockey—the sixth in eight seasons. But the season came to an abrupt end this year with a first-round overtime loss to UMass–Lowell. The game was a rematch of the 2013 Frozen Four semifinal, which Yale won on the way to a national title.

Notably, after a string of potent offensive teams in Yale hockey, this year’s squad relied on defense. Yale was the country’s best at keeping the puck out of the net: they led in penalty killing and allowed the fewest goals per game of any team in the nation.

Behind the stinginess was goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 from Minnesota, who had the country’s lowest goals-against average, at 1.64. Widely seen as one of college hockey’s best goalies, he became Yale’s first player since Chris Higgins ’05 to be nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. Sadly for Yale, Lyon will forgo his senior year; he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League in April.

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