While Penn teams won't see any competitive athletics until at least January 1, there are still many moments worth remembering from recent history. Here are five of the biggest events in Quaker sports over the past four years.
A pair of trips to March Madness
Penn's two basketball teams have seen wide success in the Ivy League, with both the men and women making it to the Big Dance over the last four seasons. After securing their third Ancient Eight title in the previous four years in 2017, No. 12-seeded Penn women's basketball faced off against Texas A&M at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Despite holding a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Aggies clawed back and pulled off the biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history, defeating the Quakers in a heartbreaking 63-61 result.
Just a year later, it was the men’s turn. After sharing the regular season conference title with Harvard, the Red and Blue held off the Crimson 68-65 at the Palestra to secure their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2007. Handed a controversial No. 16 seed, the Quakers flew out to Wichita, Kan. to face top-seeded Kansas in front of a hometown crowd. To the shock of many, the Red and Blue raced out to a double-digit first-half lead, but ultimately could not hold on and fell 76-60 to the Final Four-bound Jayhawks.
Football captures the 2016 Ivy League title
With All-Ivy senior quarterback Alek Torgersen under center throwing to junior wide receiver and future Tampa Bay Buccaneers draftee Justin Watson, Penn football won its second consecutive Ivy League Championship in 2016, sharing the honor with rival Princeton. It was the 18th Ivy title for the Quakers, giving coach Ray Priore two conference titles in as many years with the program. The Red and Blue beat Cornell 42-20 in the final game of the season, capping off a 6-1 Ancient Eight record and a 7-3 season overall.
Nia Akins & women’s track in 2020
On Feb. 14, 2020 at the Boston University Valentines Invitational, senior Nia Akins not only shattered the Ivy League record for the indoor 800-meter race, but also recorded the second-fastest time in NCAA history with a time of 2:00.71. Just a few weeks later, Akins won the 1000-meter race and the mile at the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Championship, earning the meet’s Most Outstanding Track Athlete award and leading the Quakers to their first three-peat in program history.
As a result of these impressive accolades, Akins was the first woman in program history to be a finalist for the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Women’s Track Athlete of the Year award, and to be named to the prestigious Bowerman Award watch list. And if that wasn’t enough, Akins signed with the Brooks Beasts Track Club this past summer, becoming the first 2020 NCAA track and field athlete to go pro.
Men's basketball triumphs over Villanova in 2018
Fresh off its first March Madness berth in 11 years, men’s basketball began the 2018-19 season with high aspirations. After going 8-2 through their first 10 games, the Quakers were set to play against defending national champions and No. 17 Villanova at the Palestra. The game was tight throughout, with the Quakers holding the lead for most of it. Riding 16-point performances from AJ Brodeur and Antonio Woods, the Red and Blue staved off a final comeback attempt from the Wildcats and snatched a 78-75 victory as their home fans stormed the court.
The victory was Penn's first over its local rival since 2002, and also snapped Villanova's record 25-game win streak in Philadelphia Big 5 games dating back to December 2012. The Quakers would go on to win the Big 5 in 2018-2019, their first city title in 17 years.
Reeham Sedky Individual National Champion in 2018
Arguably the best player in Penn squash history, Reeham Sedky had her best season for Penn women’s squash during 2017-2018. Sedky finished the season a perfect 20-0, losing only two games the entire season and earning first-team All-American, first-team All-Ivy, and Ivy League Player of the Year honors. To top it all off, Sedky became the first Penn women's Individual National Champion since 1996, defeating Harvard's Georgina Kennedy in four games.