By Anne Bello
Published Jul 5, 2011 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Jul 4, 2011 at 1:58 PM ET

Cambridge, MA — The 2010-2011 season was a good one for Columbia men’s squash. Not only did the program gain varsity status, the team had its highest year-end finish ever and received the Barnaby Award as the most improved team.

For the past decade, the Lions have consistently been among the top 40 teams in the nation. However, they had never finished better than 30th, and last season they finished 35th.

Thanks to the addition of new players with squash experience throughout the ladder, the Lions started this season with more strength and depth. Though they dropped their first match of the season to George Washington, they bounced back with a 5-4 win over Georgetown, starting a five-match winning streak.

Clayton Dahlman (Columbia), Zach Ali (Columbia), and Mike Way (Harvard) with the most improved team trophy.

Clayton Dahlman (Columbia), Zach Ali (Columbia), and Mike Way (Harvard) with the most improved team trophy.

The Lions finished their first varsity season with a 13-5 record. They finished the season on a high note, defeating Colby 5-4 to win the consolation bracket of the Summers Cup (C Division). That win secured a 21st-place finish in the tournament. The Lions went from having never cracked the top 30 to being on the threshold of the top 20.

In recognition of the team’s improvement, Columbia received the 2011 Barnaby Award. The award, which is named for former Harvard coach Jack Barnaby, is given annually to the men’s team showing the most improvement from the previous season.

With only two players from their championship lineup graduating, the Lions should be able to continue their improvement into next season.

Columbia is coached by Jacques Swanepoel, and Zach Ali, Clayton Dahlman, and Dan Gentile were this season’s captains.

For other photos from the 2011 award ceremony, please visit mtbello.com.