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Senior running back Karekin Brooks rushed for 898 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018 on his way to a second team All-Ivy selection.

Credit: Alec Druggan

For some students, summer is a time to relax and enjoy free time, but many of Penn's athletes tell a different story of season preparation on top of summer employment. As the fall sports season approaches, here are some of Penn’s star athletes to watch. 

Kitty Qu — Women's soccer

With her record-breaking track record as a goalkeeper for Penn women’s soccer, Kitty Qu is a force to be reckoned with. She has started in all but one of her games as a Quaker, and in 2018, she broke a Penn single-season record with a 0.912 save percentage. Over the summer, Qu held a demanding summer job while playing on a semi-professional soccer team. 

“I was on a team this summer with Emily Sands and Megan Lloyd, and we lived together in New York,” Qu said. “Being able to play with a lot of players in our conference and players from the Power Five conferences, like West Virginia and such, and playing with players of that caliber was awesome. For me, I didn’t have the luxury of taking a day off because of my work schedule. … [I] just really tried to maximize the time I did have.”

Also in 2018, Qu earned first team All-Ivy honors for the second consecutive year. Penn’s defensive squad proved impressive all-around, as recently graduated senior Camillia Nwokedi won Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. The Quakers brought their season to a close with the country’s best goals-against and shutout percentages as well as the best saves average.

Karekin Brooks — Football

The senior running back is the program record holder for most single-season yards-per-carry from his 2017 season, and in the same year, he earned an All-Ivy honorable mention. In 2018, Brooks won Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week following a game against Brown in which he ran for 246 yards, finishing the season with second team All-Ivy honors. Brooks should again be a top running back in the League this season as he heads into his senior year.

Credit: William Snow File Photo

Maddie Villalba — Cross Country

The now-senior captain helped Penn women's track secure both the Indoor and Outdoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Villalba also represented the women’s cross country team at the NCAA Championships, where she put up one of Penn's top 10 performances in the competition’s history. Villalba has been consistent and dependable for the Quakers, and her 6K time at the NCAA Championships landed her among the most successful runners in the country. 

Credit: Chase Sutton

Alex Touche — Men's soccer

After the 2018 season, Touche, like Kitty Qu, was named to the All-Ivy first team. The junior defender has started in all but one of his games as a Quaker, and last season, he missed a total of just three minutes of play, winning the team MVP title in the process. After earning second team All-Ivy honors during his freshman season, it is clear that Touche’s progression has been steady and successful. This summer, he played on a League Two team in the United Soccer League.

“I definitely want to build on [my progress and] hopefully get Ivy League Defender of the Year. But most important to me is the team, so hopefully we can start moving up in standings in the Ivy League,” Touche said. “I think an Ivy League title is definitely our goal.”

Raven Sulaimon — Volleyball

The junior outside hitter recorded season highs for the Red and Blue last season with 253 kills and 138 in Ivy League play, up from 128 kills in her 2017 season. Sulaimon's performance last year also led her to fifth place in the Ivy League in kills. Sulaimon flashed consistency throughout the year, notching double-digit kills in 13 matches and earning an All-Ivy honorable mention.

With a full schedule of games, races, and matches ahead for the Quakers, these top-performing athletes, along with many others, will be the headlines. 

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