When the Ivy League announced the cancellation of the spring sports season, the men’s lacrosse team was finishing up practice, women’s rowing was in the middle of their spring training camp, and the baseball team was minutes away from taking the field in Florida.
For the graduating seniors, that suddenly meant the end of their Penn careers.
There would be no traditional senior nights. No more home games, matches, races. No more chances for an Ivy title, or to break into the Penn record books. It’s not how anyone — fans, coaches, and least of all, athletes — expected or wanted it to end.
So, in honor of the class of 2020, here’s a look at some of the most impactful Quakers whose seasons were gone too soon.
Before their season's shutdown, Penn men’s lacrosse was looking to defend their championship title for both the Ivy League regular season and tournament.
Graduated senior Mark Evanchick was a major part of the Quakers’ success over the past four years with his impressive defense. His steady play in 2019 not only helped the Red and Blue to the Ivy crown, but also earned him First Team All-Ivy recognition.
Evanchick closed out his Penn career with a bang, accumulating two ground balls and a caused turnover in his final game against St. Joseph’s. After the season, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Barrage, where he intends to play next season.
The 2020 senior class of Penn women’s lacrosse leaves the field with two Ivy League titles under their belts, winning consecutive seasons in 2017 and 2018. Among the most decorated graduated seniors is co-captain Gabby Rosenzweig.
In her junior season, Rosenzweig set program records for most points and assists in a single season with 98 and 63, respectively. Her accomplishments on attack earned her a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection in 2019.
Rosenzweig cemented herself in the record books in her final season by breaking Penn’s career points record with 247.
Graduated senior Peter Matt has been a consistent threat at the plate and in the outfield since his debut as a freshman.
Matt picked up All-Big 5 and second team All-Ivy honors in 2018 in recognition of his .308 batting average and 17 RBIs. The following year, Matt’s batting average of .328 was good for fifth on the Quakers’ offensively stacked roster. He led the Ivy League in runs with 46 and triples with six, the latter of which tied Penn’s record for most in a season.
Prior to the 2020 season’s premature end, Matt posted a 0.457 batting average and earned both Big 5 and Ivy League Player of the Week awards.
Matt will continue his collegiate baseball career for one more season at Duke.
Graduated senior Jennifer Brann has served as softball co-captain since her junior year, leading by example both in the pitching circle and at the plate. After a standout performance in 2019, posting a team-high 66 strikeouts, Brann earned first team All-Ivy honors. She also threw the third perfect game in Ivy League softball history during a 2019 contest against Brown.
Brann’s five wins in the shortened 2020 season led the Ivy League, while she ranked second in strikeouts with 40. During the Quakers’ spring trip to Florida this year, Brann’s bat stayed hot, putting up a seven-game hitting streak extending from February until the cancelation of the season. Brann also notched her first career home run with a grand slam against Detroit Mercy in March.
Brann finished her Penn career at ninth all-time in strikeouts with 167, and 10th all-time in wins with 17.
Track and field
The premature end of the outdoor track and field season hit particularly close to home with the first ever complete cancellation of the Penn Relays since their 1895 inception.
The women’s track team also lost the opportunity to defend Penn’s title at the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships this year, which the Red and Blue have held since 2018. The star-studded 2020 graduating class sees a wealth of talent depart from Franklin Field, leaving behind dozens of records for future Quakers to strive for.
In addition to graduated senior Nia Akins’ unparalleled dominance over the middle distance events, Maura Kimmel had a record-breaking career for the Red and Blue as well.
Kimmel first set Penn’s indoor shot put record in her freshman year, but continued to raise the bar. Her victory in the event at the indoor Ivy Heps in March helped the Quakers clinch their third consecutive team title.
Akins will continue training in track and field as she looks to compete in the Summer Olympics, which, like most other sporting events, has been postponed.
Among the graduating class that propelled men’s track to a second-place finish at the 2019 outdoor Ivy Heps and third at the indoor Ivy Heps earlier this year is pole vaulter Sean Clarke. Clarke’s extensive list of accolades include back-to-back outdoor Ivy Heps championship wins in pole vault in 2018 and 2019. Clarke currently holds the program record for indoor pole vault and is second all-time in outdoor.
In a normal year, the men’s rowing team is usually one of the last spring teams to wrap up their season, with the IRA National Championships set to finish in early June. A standout senior member of the men’s lightweight team is Dominique Williams, who has helped the Varsity 8 boat to numerous accolades throughout his tenure.
As a part of the Varsity 8 boat that won the EARC sprints title in 2019, Williams was honored as first team All-Ivy and as a member of EARC Lightweight Crew of the Year.
In his senior season, Williams’ Varsity 8 boat brought home a silver medal from the Head of the Charles regatta, which is Penn’s best placement in that division since 1980.
On the women’s team, graduated senior Frances Kane played a major role in the Quakers’ significant victories over the past four years.
In her sophomore season, Kane rowed the Varsity 8 boat that won first place in its race at the Dale Cup regatta, defeating three ranked boats in the process. For her efforts, Kane earned second team All-Ivy and CRCA All-Conference honors.
In her final season as a Quaker, Kane’s Varsity 8 boat won gold at the 2019 Head of the Schuylkill at Penn’s home course.
Graduated senior Ashley Zhu made an immediate impact for the Quakers during her freshman year. Zhu’s overall singles record of 20-13 earned her unanimous selection for the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2017.
In her junior year, Zhu put up a 12-4 record in dual matches at the No. 3 and No. 4 slot. In Ivy play, she posted a perfect 5-0 in doubles to help the Red and Blue tie for a second-place finish in the standings.
Zhu ended the 2020 season and her Penn career riding a five-game doubles win streak with fellow graduated senior Carolyn Xie.
On the men’s side, Max Cancilla consistently came in clutch for the Quakers throughout his career, securing needed points when it mattered most.
As team co-captain, Cancilla won the clinching match against Harvard to secure Penn’s victory in the ECAC championship in 2019. The title was Penn’s third in program history, and their first in twelve years. This victory also earned Penn a ranking of No. 23 in the nation for that year according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, Penn’s highest ranking ever.
Graduated senior Christina Park served as team captain of the women’s golf team for two straight seasons and consistently proved her talent on the individual golf circuit.
Park’s 76.4-stroke average her freshman year was good for second on the team, a rank she again held her junior year with an average of 75.1. Her low round score of 68 strokes that year is Penn’s second all-time score for low round.
Park is one of three players in program history to finish a 54-hole tournament with an under-par score.
Eric Ganshaw was named co-captain of Penn men’s golf for the 2020 season. In Ganshaw’s final year as a Quaker, he set a personal best low round score of 70 in the Cornell Invitational. This score beat the personal best Ganshaw set in his freshman year by a margin of 5 strokes.
Whether they will be transferring for their final year of college eligibility, turning professional, or closing out their athletic careers, the Quakers from the class of 2020 have clearly made their mark here at Penn.
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