With fall athletics underway, many Penn teams will be vying for Ivy League and even national glory. Which team has the best chances of claiming or defending a trophy? Three of the Daily Pennsylvanian sports editors talked it out.
Tommy Rothman, Sports Editor
Which autumn squad is the most likely to win a title this year? The team that already has five-sixths of one, obviously.
After sharing the Ivy League championship with two teams in 2015 and splitting it down the middle in 2016, Penn football has to be considered a major threat to get its hands on the trophy again in 2017--- and this time, all that's left is to win the whole thing.
Will it be easy? Of course not. Not only does the Ivy League have many qualified participants on the gridiron— as evidenced by the deadlocks atop the standings in recent years— but each new year brings a new wave of holes to be filled as the previous senior class is no longer around. In this case, that means the Quakers will be without their star quarterback, 2017 grad Alek Torgersen. Compounding the graduation problem is the transfer of star defensive back Mason Williams to Duke.
But even with these departures, the team is returning more than enough talent to compete. The team is returning eight starters on defense and six on offense (including running back Tre Solomon and superstar wideout Justin Watson). All told, the Red and Blue have 10 All-Ivy selections coming back this year, and if one of the three quarterbacks battling for Torgersen's old spot can emerge as a star—or even just be "quite good,"— there's no reason Penn can't make it a three-peat (with some sharing having been done along the way).
Brevin Fleischer, Sports Editor
There's no question in my mind as to which Penn team deserves to be shouted out as Penn's top title contenders. Two words. National. Champions.
That's right. Fresh off of a national title, the Penn sprint football program has firmly established itself as a perennial contender. Although star quarterback Mike McCurdy has graduated, many of last year's offensive standouts return, including 2016 leading rusher Jake Klaus, leading receiver Aidan Kelly, and second leading scorer Marcus Jones.
Although this year's defense is set to look much different than last year's unit, the less glamorous side of the ball should still be in good hands as well with the return of defensive back, Tom Console. The junior standout was the team's leading tackler last season with 61 takedowns, and he proved himself to be an able ballhawk as well, picking off the opposing quarterback three times. Joining Console on defense will be senior linebacker Quinn Karam and junior linebacker Sam Smallzman, both able tacklers in their own right.
However, as is often the case with football, now matter how much talent is on the roster, it all comes down to the quarterback. So, picking sprint football as the team most likely to win a title boils down to the simple fact that I have faith in sophomore quarterback Edward Jenkins. He may not be McCurdy, but with all of the talent on this team, does Penn sprint football really need him to be?
Jonathan Pollack, Sports Editor
To me, the team with the best shot at an Ivy title this fall is a team that fell just a bit short last season: Penn field hockey. The Quakers finished third in the Ancient Eight last year with a 4-3 record, but they are several reasons to be hopeful for a title.
First, the Red and Blue are returning all but two starters, including star senior forward Alexa Hoover, the program record-holder in both points and goals. Junior midfielder/defense Paige Meily and sophomore defense Alexa Schneck, both second team All-Ivy last season, are also coming back for the squad.
As for Harvard and Princeton, the two teams that finished ahead of the Quakers, both are losing key players from last year. The top scorers for both teams, Harvard's Marissa Balleza and Princeton's Cat Caro, both of whom tallied at least 30 points last season, have graduated, leaving a hole in their offenses.
With the core of the team returning and their competitors missing key components, Penn has one of their best chances in recent years to make a run at the title. They still need a few things to fall their way, but things are looking bright.