For over one year, Penn sporting events were put on hold.
Practices and competitions were first brought to a halt on Mar. 11, 2020, when the eight Ivy League presidents unanimously decided to cancel all athletic events — the same day that Penn announced it would be transitioning to remote learning and closing campus. Hopes for fall semester competition diminished at the beginning of July, when the Ivy League became the first Division I conference to cancel all athletic events until the new year.
The first piece of good news came on Feb. 8, when it was announced that Penn athletes could return to practice under new health and safety guidelines. With continuously high COVID-19 positivity rates throughout the country, however, the Ivy League canceled its spring athletic season just 10 days later, only permitting competition with local non-conference opponents. It wasn't until Mar. 25 that Penn Athletics received approval to resume local competition — the first Ivy League school to be able to do so.
Penn student-athletes have finally taken back to the fields and courts, with those from the Class of 2024 competing as Quakers for the first time. Here's what the first week of competition looked like.
Baseball was the first team to compete this spring, beginning the season at home for the first of two games in a three-game series against Villanova the morning of Mar. 27. The dugout looked different compared to other years as players and coaches wore masks.
Men's and women's track and field also returned to competition during the afternoon of Mar. 27. The Quakers took part in the Penn Challenge meet, which invited Rider University, St. Joseph's University, Temple University, and Villanova University to Franklin Field. Fans, spectators, and media are not allowed at any sports competitions this season, but can still watch games via live streams on the Penn Video Network. Pictured above, the men's track and field team watching from the empty stands as the women competed in the 1500m.
Opposing teams do not shake hands anymore and coaches keep their distance from one another as seen above during men's tennis' first match of the season against Temple University on Apr. 4. During tennis matches, players do not have to wear masks, even if they are playing doubles.
Similar to tennis, baseball umpires and coaches are required to wear masks at all times, while players on the field are not required to wear masks. Once innings are over, however, players must put on their masks again.
Zach Smith during his match against Temple University's Eric Biscoveanu. Smith won the only single of the competition. Following a year without any official games, some teams have had a slow start to the season. Men's tennis lost 2-5 against Temple University, though they have only competed once since Penn Athletics' return to competition.
Penn sophomore Jackson Appel catches a ball against a La Salle infielder Connor Coolahan. The Quakers currently have a record of 2-5 after getting swept by Villanova and losing the first two games against La Salle University.
Tamara Grahovac competed in the women's long jump and triple jump during the Penn Challenge meet, choosing to wear a mask while competing. Men and women's track and field have come out as a dominating force. They have totaled 34 first-place finished in the first two meets of the season.
The sun sets over Franklin Field and Philadelphia on Mar. 27 during the men's 5000m. Although the Quakers have returned to empty stands and a shorter season, teams are still enthusiastic to be back on the fields and courts. Competition will continue until May 1.
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