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Maybe that's because it was almost yesterday. The odds were not in my favor when I applied to transfer to Penn and Wharton for my junior year. I had almost forgotten about my candidacy; I was at peace knowing that I had done all I could to outline my case for coming here. All of that changed on May 10, 1997. My NYU friends were shocked that, in an instant, I would be leaving "the city." My high school friends, however, knew that Penn was where I wanted to be all along. · And so I made the move. I had attended the 1997 Division III Women's Final Four, which host NYU won on a last-second steal and layup. Still, being from the event town that is New York, I longed for Division I sports. I liked the tradition of Ivy League athletics and figured that if I could not play intercollegiate sports at this level, then I might as well write about it. This, my 57th and final write-up for the DP, highlights memories from three of the five sports I have covered. · My first game on the women's basketball beat was back in November '97 against St. Joseph's, a 91-45 pounding that even I could not watch. In the midst of a tough night, then-freshman forward Diana Caramanico stuck out from the crowd with some tough shots in the lane. In a post-game interview, I gave her every chance to give reasons for the sizable defeat, but Diana refused to make any excuses. With a 9-43 record in its prior two years, the team, off to an 0-2 start, gave me little reason to believe that Diana's "no excuses" approach was anything more than playerspeak. But Diana's words proved to be prophetic when the team finally played tough against a top opponent. Facing current WNBA player Allison Feaster's Harvard squad, a team that was supposed to roll over any and every Ivy opponent, the Quakers posted the biggest run I have ever personally witnessed -- coming back from 42-15 with a 30-9 sprint to end the first half. Harvard's supporters, having just traveled six hours to root for their Crimson, were stunned as Penn pumped in basket after basket. During the timeouts, it was Harvard who searched for answers, while the few Penn fans at the Palestra cheered as loud as a Harvard crowd 20 times as large. Even though the Crimson turned up the heat in the second half and beat the Quakers by 26, the mood change that had taken place during the Penn comeback was something special that could not have been foreseen. Harvard later went on to become the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed when it upset Stanford in the first round of the Tournament. But, for one half, David unexpectedly had an Ivy League Goliath on the ropes. · My first line in the recap of Penn football's Ivy League opener at Dartmouth talked about the possibility of Penn needing to buy new goal posts after the season. I must admit that I was more than a little concerned about making such a prediction after just one game. However, those who made the trip to an unusually humid Hanover, N.H., saw the foundation of the season built late in the fourth quarter on the Quakers' last major series, which I call Penn's version of "The Drive." With three people I knew from high school on Ivy football rosters, I had followed the League even before coming to Penn. The first thing I had learned was the importance of winning the first Ivy League game of the season. The "drive" at Hanover resembled something straight from NFL Films, from the fumble recovery that set up the last possessions to the Jim Finn power run through the right side that started the road to the Championship. In front of the typically strong opening-day Dartmouth crowd, all you could hear in the valley was the Quakers' bench cheering as the players realized that they were ready to avenge 1997's humiliating home defeat to the Big Green. The Quakers had started the type of season that I had hoped to see when I arrived at Penn. Ironically, eight weeks later I saw one of the aforementioned high school friends miss catching the final Hail Mary pass for the Crimson at Franklin Field on championship day. He won his own Ivy ring the year before and he also happened to be in attendance when Penn won its last title in 1994, watching the goal posts go down. As the fans tore the goal posts down and again headed for the Schuylkill, everything had come full circle. · Most people saw the men's basketball matchup at Princeton on March 2, whether it was at a bar with a satellite TV feed, or as one of the lucky Penn fans who made the trip to the "Jadwin Jungle." The "Jungle" didn't scare me, even though it was right behind me and the other writers on press row. The Princeton fans tried their hardest, but were little match for the Penn fans' loud chants of "N-I-T!" Yet, in the midst of the euphoria, the significance of the event really hit senior tri-captain Paul Romanczuk, who was still in disbelief as the media asked the usual set of stale questions. I was already bewildered by the magnitude of the blowout and by how quiet and empty Jadwin was when I left the place at midnight. But, what really was apparent that night was what the win meant to Romanczuk. Upon returning to campus, I made a rare trip to Smoke's. After saying hello to several people, Romanczuk offered a high-five to me. That really hit me, beyond the fact that I was in the good graces of one of the many athletes that I had written about in the last two years. Surprisingly, it was the first time that I really thought about how the people we write about also live among us. I had always tried hard, maybe too hard, to keep my distance from the people I wrote about week in and week out, just to maintain a sense of professionalism when Penn teams did not have good days. With that in mind, if there's one thing I should mention before wrapping this up, it's a thank you to all the people on all the beats I covered -- the teams I have mentioned earlier, as well as women's soccer and men's lacrosse -- who endured many of the same questions over and over again. And of course, thanks to the DP, especially DP sports, for the opportunity to cover some of the best Penn sports moments in recent memory.

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