Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Students Excel at Squash & Speed Skating

Jan. 11, 2019 -- Two Heights High students are nationally ranked athletes in squash and speed skating. Senior Nicholas Fehn competed in the Squash Junior US and Canadian Open in Boston and Ontario in December. Hira Hanson, 11th grader, competed in the Short Track Junior Speed Skating National Championship in Wisconsin, also in December.

Nicholas describes squash as a cross between tennis and racquet ball. The squash racquet is similar to a tennis racket and the indoor court is similar to a racquetball court. Competitors play the ball off the walls, as in racquetball.

When Nicholas was younger he was an accomplished tennis player but switched to squash three years ago. “I like that squash is more physical, there is more running because the rallies are longer,” said Nicholas. The training is rigorous.  He follows a crossfit regime with trainer Doug Fisher at the Cleveland Skating Club that includes many kind of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning in addition to working with his coach Joseph Russell at the Cleveland Racquet Club. 

 Nicholas Fehn at the Urban Squash Cleveland facility during an October 12 practice match against a European professional squash player.
In the two December tournaments he played five matches, each one is typically 45-60 minutes long. He is currently ranked 22nd nationally in the under 19 age group.

After graduation, he plans to play squash for a college and is applying to schools with competitive programs, including Drexel University, Dickinson College and Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, St. Lawrence University in New York and George Washington University in DC.

Nicholas’ favorite class this year is Anatomy and Physiology. He is also interested in music and currently takes piano lessons. After graduation, he plans to attends college with a major in business. 

Hira learned to skate at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center when he was eight years old and was quickly began to focus on speed skating.  He was drawn to the pace and strategy of the sport. “In short track, it’s an adrenaline rush, and really fun,” he said.

The ‘track’ is an ice hockey rink. Four to six skaters start together and race around the rink at speeds of 20-25 mph, often shoulder to shoulder. They can draft behind other skaters, taking advantage of the decreased wind resistance, this allows the drafting skater to use less energy. Determining when and how to draft or take the lead is part of the strategy that Hira enjoys. 

Hira leading the pack during the December 2 Heartland Invitational at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center. 
Hira competed in the 500 and 1000 meter races in Wisconsin and is currently ranked 10th nationally in the 15-17 age group.

Competing at the national level requires a serious training program. Hira spends time on a stationary bike trainer and rides a bicycle outdoors for aerobic and leg strength. His dry land regime includes weights, running and specific skating exercises. He spends many hours training on the ice with his coach Nicole Golembiewski.

Hira is also a member of the Heights High baseball team and his favorite class is Madam Woods French class.

He looks forward to training this summer and after graduating he will attend college or take time off from school to focus on his training.

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