With Penn football’s Ivy title-clinching victory two weekends ago, Penn Athletics wrapped up a surprisingly successful fall season. And now, the program has the hardware to show for it.
Of course, the Red and Blue football team is likely most pleased with its Ivy championship, but the squad also has plenty of other accolades to show for its efforts this season.
In his first year at the program’s helm and his 29th overall with the Quakers, coach Ray Priore was named Ivy League Coach of the Year. To bring home the honor, he beat out seven other coaches — most notably his former boss, Columbia’s Al Bagnoli. Priore led his team back from an inconsistent 1-3 start and is one of only two coaches in Penn history to bring home an Ivy title in his first year as head coach.
But the team wasn’t done picking up awards. Not by a long shot.
In addition to Priore’s honors, the Quakers garnered 11 All-Ivy awards. Of their total four first-team selections, two were unanimous: sophomore wide receiver Justin Watson — who put up 1,082 receiving yards on the season — and senior linebacker Tyler Drake, who averaged eight tackles per game and tallied 8.5 total sacks.
With their impressive seasons, both Watson and Drake will likely be considered for Ivy Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. The finalists for those top honors will be announced by the Ivy League this Tuesday.
Similarly, Penn cross country was recognized both for its coaching and its top performer as, earlier in November, Penn coach Steve Dolan was named Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Association.
He earned the award on the heels of a breakout season for his program. 2015 saw the men’s team finish second at the Heptagonal Championships and earn a bid to NCAA’s for the first time since 1975, while the women’s team improved mightily off of its last-place Ivy finish in 2014 and yielded national-qualifier in Ashley Montgomery.
Meanwhile, men’s senior star Thomas Awad got some recognition of his own. In leading his team to a 24th-place finish at NCAA’s, Awad added to his Ivy-champion resume by earning All-American honors for the second straight year.
Not to be outdone, Penn field hockey — which fell just short of an Ivy championship to end its season — notched four All-Ivy selections, headlined by sophomore Alexa Hoover. The Ancient Eight’s most dynamic player, Hoover has already been named first team All-Ivy twice in her career with the Red and Blue.
Rounding out Penn Athletics’ All-Ivy honorees, the Quakers’ volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams earned one, two and four selections, respectively.
However, possibly the most prestigious award earned by a Penn athlete this season has very little to do with athletics at all.
A week ago, senior women’s rower Jenna Hebert was named one of the year’s 32 Rhodes Scholarship award winners from the United States. She is the first Penn athlete to receive the honor in over 30 years and only the fifth to do so in school history.
One of the top performers on her rowing squad, Hebert certainly has quite a future ahead of her on dry land as well. However, before she crosses the Atlantic to study at Oxford next year, Hebert will look to lead the Red and Blue to even more athletic awards for the remainder of the year.
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