In the latter half of our two-part look at Penn winter sports, we focus on men’s hoops, swimming, track and field and fencing.
MVP: While no one player has been far and away the best for Penn all season, sophomore guard Tony Hicks has been hot when the Quakers have won games. Averaging 15.5 points per game, Penn’s leading scorer has shot 41.8 percent from the field this season.
Strengths: Despite the way things look, the Quakers have at least one going for them. In the frontcourt, they have the talent needed to do some damage for the rest of the season. Senior Fran Dougherty and sophomore Darien Nelson-Henry have both been essential for the Quakers in the paint, both averaging 7.2 rebounds a game.
Weaknesses: Week in and week out, Penn has been plagued by the same old demons: too many turn overs, losing the rebounding battle and failing to close out games have all contributed to a less-than-stellar opening stretch of the season. If coach Jerome Allen and his players can figure out a way to cut down on the mistakes and focus on finishing games, the Quakers have the tools to find success in the coming weeks.
MVP: Yet another underclassman leading the way this winter is freshman Rochelle Dong. Dong has been impressive all year, both as an individual in the 50 freestyle and as a part of the 200 medley relay team. Dong was the only Penn swimmer to pick up an individual victory against Harvard in last week’s race and looks like she will be a natural leader on the team going forward.
Strengths: Unlike some programs that are just senior-laden or underclassmen heavy, the women’s swimming team has the best of both worlds. With upperclassmen like senior Shelby Fortin and junior Christina Hurley leading the charge and underclassmen like Dong and sophomore Lauren Church as rising talent, Penn has the ability to remain competitive now — and has hope that the future will be just as bright.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, the Quakers lack the depth necessary to defeat the teams at the top of the Ivy League. Even with its best lineups, Penn doesn’t have the power to take down programs like Harvard or Princeton, who both soundly defeated the Quakers.
MVP: Senior Rhoads Worster seems like he is involved in every winning event for Penn. In the Quakers’ last meet against Brown alone, Worster scored two individual victories in the 200 breaststroke and the 100 backstroke, and he helped Penn to two relay victories in the 400 free and the 200 medley. Worster is also only one of three seniors in the program, making his senior leadership invaluable.
Strengths: The relay teams for the men’s program have been raking in the points this season. In the team’s home meet against Brown, two Penn relay teams broke school records. The 200 medley and 400 free relay teams have both been impressive all season and are a big part of why Penn is 4-2 in the division.
Weaknesses: Much like their female counterparts, Penn still lacks the depth of talent needed to go toe-to–toe with the likes of Princeton. While Penn has been good at winning close meets and picking up victories against lesser teams, there is still a gap between Penn and the top teams in the division. Next week’s meet against Harvard will be telling as to how big that gap actually is.
Track and Field
MVP: Freshman Noel Jancewicz had several top-three finishes in multiple events at last week’s Haverford Invitational. These included a first-place finish in the 800-meter run, a second-place finish in the long jump and a third-place and personal best finish in the 60m hurdles.
Strengths: Underclassmen in particular have looked very promising in the past few meets for the Quakers. For the men’s team, sophomores Ben Bowers and Thomas Awad have proven that they have the ability to finish atop the podium, and sophomore Sam Mattis has been impressive in the shot put. Freshman Cleo Whiting also looked dominant in her first distance race for the Red and Blue.
Weaknesses: If there is any weakness for the track program, it may be the fact that the squad has remained largely untested. The Quakers have only competed in three races since the beginning of December and haven’t had a real opportunity to challenge themselves as a team. This will all change when the Quakers head up to The Armory in New York for the Columbia Invitational next week.
MVP: Junior foilist Jason Chang has been an integral part of Penn’s impressive performances through the first half of the season. One of the team’s four captains, Chang help Penn put up a perfect score in foil against Sacred Heart at last week’s Philadelphia Invitational.
Strengths: Both the men’s and women’s fencing programs have been dominant so far this season, and most of the team’s wins have come right here in Philadelphia. The teams have posted a combined 11-3 record on their home turf, with was helped by the men going 5-0 at last weekend’s Philadelphia Invitational.
Weaknesses: As so often happens with dominant teams, Penn fencing has shown a tendency to ease off when competing against lesser opponents. For example, this past weekend the women’s team took a loss against Big 5 rival Temple, a team that it easily defeated earlier in the season.