It was a tremendously busy weekend for Penn Athletics, and the successes on the field weren’t limited to the record-setting meet from track and field or the huge Ivy League wins to keep men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse in their respective title races.
Though the spring season is well underway, one winter athlete still had some business to handle: sophomore swimmer Mark Andrew at the NCAA Championships. The last person standing from either Penn’s men’s or women’s teams, Andrew competed in the 400-yard individual medley for the second straight year — and the sophomore made history.
In his preliminary heat, his time of 3:41.89 set an all-time record for not only Penn, but the entire Ivy League. Though his time in the finals ended up being slightly slower, Andrew still finished in 15th place nationally, securing his first career All-American spot after taking 32nd place in the same event as a rookie. The performance wrapped up what was already a special season for Andrew, who took home the Ivy titles in both the 200 IM and 400 IM.
Elsewhere, men’s golf had a frustrating start to interim coach Michael Blodgett’s career with a last-place finish at the Colleton River Collegiate during spring break, but the Quakers made some progress toward turning their season around with a strong effort this weekend. Competing at the Towson Spring Invitational alongside 21 other teams — including Ivy foes Columbia and Cornell — the Quakers ended up tying for eighth place with a team score of 31 over par.
Though the squad finished four shots behind Columbia, Penn did edge Cornell by three strokes, giving an encouraging sign as the team approaches the meat of its season. Leading the way for the Quakers once again was junior Carter Thompson, whose personal score of +4 led him to a 12th place individual finish.
Also hitting the road for its own trip, men’s tennis came into the weekend with huge momentum having won five of its last six matches, giving some major hype to Sunday’s in-state rivalry showdown against a strong Penn State squad. In a match that certainly lived up to its gaudy expectations, the Quakers (13-6) came out on top of a 4-3 thriller over the Nittany Lions (9-5).
Though Kyle Mautner took a rare loss at the No. 1 position, Penn did get major boosts from singles victories by Matt Nardella and Josh Pompan, helping tie the score at three apiece entering the final individual match. And with all the pressure on, freshman Max Cancilla came through with a clutch three-set win over Marc Collado to clinch the match and give the Red and Blue a major non-conference win.
Not to be outdone, women’s rowing racked up its own fair share of wins on Saturday, sending out its veterans emphatically during the team’s Senior Weekend. Competing in none other than the Schuylkill River during the 35th annual Murphy Cup, the Red and Blue were absolutely dominant across the board, taking first place in three of the six divisions that were offered — the Varsity Four, the Junior Varsity Four and the Junior Varsity Eight.
The theme of the day quickly evolved into a rivalry between Penn and Navy, and the Red and Blue were largely able to get the best of their competitors, with the Midshipmen taking second place behind the Quakers in each of the aforementioned three races.
However, what was already a stellar day for Penn almost became even more spectacular in the most prominent event of the meet: the Varsity Eight. The Quakers finished with the best time among the 24 schools in the preliminary heats, giving them the No. 1 seed entering the Grand Final, but the team came up just short of snagging the championship there, taking second place to Northeastern by nearly four seconds.
Still, with first-place finishes in half of the events, there wasn’t too much to complain about for the Red and Blue. And the same can be said for Penn Athletics as a whole, which had a fantastic weekend from top to bottom.
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