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Seven Pennington School seniors to play Division I sports in college

Top row, from left: Babacar Niang, Jack Borden, and Kylie Daigle. Middle row, from left: Jordan Mahony and Ben Eckerson. Bottom row, from left: Oliver Gassman and David Curtiss.PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PENNINGTON SCHOOL
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Top row, from left: Babacar Niang, Jack Borden, and Kylie Daigle. Middle row, from left: Jordan Mahony and Ben Eckerson. Bottom row, from left: Oliver Gassman and David Curtiss.PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PENNINGTON SCHOOL

Seven Pennington School seniors signed NCAA National Letters of Intent to play Division I sports in college.

The students are Jack Borden (soccer, Lafayette College), David Curtiss (swimming, NC State University), Kylie Daigle (soccer, Rutgers University), Ben Eckerson (swimming, Virginia Tech), Oliver Gassman (swimming, University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Jordan Mahony (soccer, American University), and Babacar Niang (soccer, Wake Forest University).

Jack Borden, of Stockton, has made his mark on the Pennington Boys’ Soccer team. He is a two-time Mercer County Champion and a First-Team All-Prep and All-Area selection. He was also a candidate for TopDrawerSoccer’s All-American watchlist.

“Borden had a team-first mentality and wanted results for the team over his personal achievements and recognition,” Coach Chad Bridges said in a statement prepared after the Nov. 11 signing. “I believe that he will bring that same level of commitment, dedication, drive, and determination next year to Lafayette.”

David Curtiss, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, has had a stellar career as a member of Pennington’s swimming program, breaking numerous records and accruing many honors. Over the past three years Curtiss has also set pool records at many schools. This year, he was selected to USA Swimming’s National Team for the second year in a row, and he qualified for Olympic trials in 2021.

At the 2020 Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championship, Curtiss was named Easterns Most Valuable Male Swimmer, and The Times of Trenton selected him as the Swimmer of the Year for the second year running. An eight-time All-American, Curtiss had All-American performances this year at Easterns and at the NJISAA State B Championship.

Curtiss concluded his junior year by setting a new national independent school record in the 50 yard freestyle, and he also holds the national independent high school record for the 50 meter short-course event.

Heading into his senior year, Curtiss is undefeated in the 50 yard and 50 meter freestyle in high school meets, and he has broken records held by historical Olympic swimmers.

Coach George Ward believes Curtiss is at the beginning of his true potential and will have one of the most exciting sprinting careers at NC State and beyond, according to the statement.

Kylie Daigle, a boarding student from Franklinville, has been a star player on the girls’ soccer team. Her many accolades during her four years on the varsity team include NJISAA Prep A All-State First Team; The Trentonian’s First Team All-Area and Prep Player of the Year; The Times of Trenton’s First Team All-Area; the New Jersey Girls’ Soccer Coaches Association’s All-State team; and the Mercer 33, a list of the top 33 girls’ soccer players in Mercer County.

“Kylie is a creative, explosive, and gritty attacking midfielder with one thing on her mind: beat the opponent,” Coach William Hawkey said in the statement. “She has dazzled our loyal Pennington fans for four years with her ball control in tight spaces, uncanny ability to find her teammates in great scoring positions, and skill for unleashing pinpoint-accurate shots from anywhere within forty yards of the goal. Kylie’s work ethic is second to none, and Rutgers University’s women’s soccer is getting a true blue-chip playmaker next year.”

Pennington resident Ben Eckerson has also been a star swimmer for Pennington. He has shined for Pennington in several events, winning the 100 backstroke in both the county and state championships. Eckerson also set the Mercer County record and the NJISAA state record in the 100 backstroke in 2020. He was a three-time All-American at the 2020 Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championship, where he was recognized as “Swimmer of the Meet” for the B division.

“Ben’s ability through hard work and dedication to drop time over the last four years is something like I’ve never seen before,” Ward said in the statement. “Now he is the best backstroker that Mercer County and the NJ Independent School state meet has ever seen after his junior year. A true backstroker standing at 6’9”, Ben will have an incredible college swimming career at Virginia Tech.”

Oliver Gassman, also a Pennington resident, is also one of the top high school swimmers the program has ever seen. A swimmer for The Pennington School since sixth grade, Gassman represents one of the top recruits coming out of the state of New Jersey for the Class of 2021.

Gassman completed his junior year as a two-time All-American for Pennington in the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay. He also placed first in the 100 butterfly at the Mercer County Championship meet and state championship meet.

Ward said that Gassman has a quiet confidence paired with the ability to defeat any high school swimmer at any time.

“He is someone who trains seriously to reach his goals and has produced numerous top performances as an All-State swimmer,” Ward said in the statement. “I am tremendously excited for him to attend UMBC, and Oliver will have an immediate impact on their program.”

Jordan Mahony, who lives in Yardley, has been an exceptional Pennington girls’ soccer defender. Her awards include NJISAA Prep A All-State First Team; The Times of Trenton’s First Team All-Prep; the Trentonian’s First Team All-Prep; and the Mercer 33, a list of the top 33 girls’ soccer players in Mercer County.

Mahony has helped the program win three NJISAA Prep A State Championships and two Mercer County Tournament titles.

“Jordan’s work ethic from the very beginning was what separated her from the pack, and we saw a real breakout year for Jordan last year as she dominated our rock-solid defense,” Hawkey said in the statement. “We will forever hold Jordan up as a model of perseverance for our younger players. Her grit and tenacity propelled her to where she is today; an All-State player poised to take her game to the next level at American University.”

Babacar Niang, a boarding student from Dakar, Senegal, has been an outstanding midfielder for the Varsity Boys Soccer team for three years. Some of his accolades include two-time First Team All-State; two-time First Team All-Prep; and two-time Mercer County Champion.

Niang was selected for TopDrawerSoccer’s All-America First Team, and he was named All-Prep Player of the Year and Mercer County Prep Player of the Year by The Trentonian.

Niang was also chosen for the National High School All-American Game for 2020.

“Babacar was a big contributor to the soccer program, racking up lots of honors along the way. His dedication to his teammates helped the program achieve national prominence,” Bridges said in the statement. As an incoming member of Wake Forest University’s soccer team, Niang will undoubtedly continue his record of excellence.”

The Pennington School is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory school for students in grades 6-12, in both day and boarding programs. 

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