Despite the chilly temperatures, government officials and community organization members ushered in spring yesterday morning by announcing their plans for funding to improve Clark Park, University City's largest public space. The Clark Park Renewal Project -- a joint effort by the University City District and the Friends of Clark Park -- is designed to increase the level of maintenance in the nine-acre park, located at 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue, by raising $70,000 to hire private landscapers. "We have found out that everybody is willing to come together and make [this project] all that it could be," City Council majority leader Jannie Blackwell, whose district represents West Philadelphia, told the approximately 25 leaders of community organizations present. A sum of $25,000 has already been donated by many local organizations and businesses, including Penn. The Drumcliff Foundation -- a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization that supports environmental causes -- has pledged $20,000 for the next five years if the partnership sells $20,000 worth of tickets for the "Party for the Park" on May 4. "I'm not only optimistic that we're going to get to the $70,000. I think we're going to blow right past it," said John Fry, the chairman of UCD's board of directors and Penn's executive vice president. UCD Executive Director Paul Steinke cited the collaboration between a city agency, a community organization and a special services district as integral to the implementation of the renewal project. "Today, our partnership blossoms on the first day of spring, right here in Clark Park," Steinke said. Up until a month ago, Clark Park was maintained by the Philadelphia Department of Recreation and volunteers from the Friends of Clark Park, who continually planted, watered and weeded. But according to District 9 Manager of the Department of Recreation Vincent Pancetta, applications for permits have shot up over the last year. Pancetta pointed out that the park's popularity has increased, as it is now home to a Farmer's Market, local soccer leagues, festivals and a large number of neighbors who come to enjoy the open space, trees and flowers. "Those of us who live in West Philadelphia recognize the good things we have," said State Rep. James Roebuck, who was at the briefing. "Clark Park is one of those good things." However, as more community members frequent Clark Park, wear and tear on the green spaces also increased. So in 1999, the Philadelphia Department of Recreation approved a plan constructed by the Friends of Clark Park and UCD that is going into action this month. Moon Site Management was selected through a bidding process as the new private landscape contractor for Clark Park. Cynthia Roberts, president of the Friends of Clark Park, said Moon Site Management will supplement the work provided by the Department of Recreation by trimming, mulching and pruning the greenery. "This is just one step of many, many steps in creating the kind of community we want to have in West Philadelphia," University of the Sciences President Philip Gerbino said.
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The senior, wrestling at 157 pounds, helped lead the Quakers to a ninth-place national finish. ST. LOUIS -- There were no tears of joy. There was no fist-pumping revelry. In fact, at his press conference, Wharton senior Brett Matter seemed to be breathing a sigh of relief. Just minutes before, Matter won the NCAA wrestling championship in the 157-pound weight class. He became Penn's first NCAA champion since Richard DiBatista in 1942. In front of 16,795 fans at the Kiel Center in St. Louis on Saturday night, Matter beat Larry Quisel of Boise State in a tight, 4-2 bout. His victory helped propel Penn to a ninth-place team finish -- its highest in 60 years. While Matter was clearly the star for the Quakers, his fellow tri-captains, senior Bandele Adeniyi-Bada and junior Rick Springman, also earned All-America honors. Springman finished fifth at 174 pounds, while Adeniyi-Bada took sixth in the heavyweight division. "Accomplishing your goals is an unbelievable feeling," Matter said after the match. "It's almost given me peace of mind. I put in so many hours and sacrificed so many different things over my college years, over high school, and now to see it actually come true is unbelievable." In his four years wrestling at Penn, Matter compiled a record of 128-14, making him Penn's all-time winningest wrestler. He also earned All-American honors at last year's NCAA championships, placing fifth. And with his title at the NCAAs this year, Matter and his father, Andrew, joined just three other father-son pairs to win a NCAA championships. Andrew Matter won back-to-back titles at 167 pounds for Penn State in 1971 and 1972. Matter's older brother, Clint, also wrestled for Penn, winning an Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association title and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in 1997. Wrestling success has become a Matter family tradition, one that Brett seemed destined to uphold. "Brett usually won the tournament that he was in," Andrew Matter said of his son's early wrestling career. Brett posted a 125-9 record at Delran High School in New Jersey and won two state titles. When it came time for college, Matter chose the Wharton School over his father's alma mater. And when it came time for Brett to challenge for the national title, his father was there to dispense first-hand advice. "[My advice was] try to stay focused and be prepared that it's going to be a long three days," Andrew said. "I've talked to him about this tournament and how he has to prepare himself to win it ever since he's been old enough to listen to me." Despite the tremendous family legacy, Brett said he did not feel any extra pressure to win. "[My father] told me I should have won by five or six points, but he always says stuff like that," Matter said. "I think it's his way of building my confidence -- I don't know. He's always been very supportive. He never made me wrestle." As Andrew saw his son write his way into the Penn wrestling history books, he said watching from the stands was more trying than competing on the mat. "It's a lot more nerve wracking when you're not wrestling," he said. "When you're out there wrestling, you're not nervous. All the nerves have to go away after you shake hands. But when you're up here you're nervous the whole time." Indeed, Brett gave his father something to be nervous about in his semifinal match against Corey Wallman of Wisconsin. Matter took a 1-0 lead into the final period against Wallman, but was reversed late in the bout to fall behind, 2-1. With nine seconds left, Matter took the down position on the mat, needing at least an escape point to take the match into overtime and to keep his title hopes alive. With three seconds left in the bout, Matter reversed Wallman, going up, 3-2. He held on to win and advance to the finals match with Quisel, who had beaten Iowa's top-seed and heavy favorite T.J. Williams in overtime just moments earlier. The two semifinal matches -- held on adjacent mats simultaneously -- provided high drama for the record-setting Kiel Center crowd. Quisel took defending champion Williams down to win his match just as Wallman reversed Matter. "I was sitting there for a minute, because [the Penn and Wisconsin coaches] were arguing about something," Matter said. "I saw Quisel win, and then I knew that I had to get out." Quisel's win denied Matter the opportunity to avenge his only loss of the year, a 5-3 decision to Williams in December. Before the match with Quisel, Williams, a sophomore, had not lost a match in his college career. "I think it's very ironic that we started in October and trained every day through yesterday for Williams and it didn't happen," Penn coach Roger Reina said. "We were ready and in some ways disappointed that Brett didn't have the opportunity to wrestle Williams." Williams or not, Matter was determined to achieve a goal he had set for himself since childhood. "I've always been confident that I was going to win," he said. "I think it's natural to have some doubt, but a true champion erases that doubt right off that bat."
Unlike other universities, Penn has decided to take no action against Napster.com, an MP3 provider. Making downloading MP3 music files off the Internet simple and easy, Napster.com has turned thousands of personal computers across the country -- especially at college campuses --into virtual jukeboxes since its inception a year ago. The brainchild of a former student at Northeastern University in Boston, Napster was geared at college students whose thirst for music and high-speed access to the Internet allow quick downloads of megabyte upon megabyte of music. But its design has proved to be a burden on some college networks by turning hundreds of networked computers into an army of servers, draining bandwidth away from regular applications such as Web browsing and, in some cases, nearly crippling over-extended systems. At Indiana University, for instance, computing officials decided to cut off access to Napster last February, citing overuse of the service at the time of the shutdown. "The expectation was that the level of traffic was going to be 81 percent [of Internet use] much too soon," IU Information Technology Policy Officer Mark Bruhn said. "And that was unacceptable." IU's decision was preceded by the same restrictions made at a slew of schools, including Brown, Northwestern and Tufts universities and the University of Texas. "It's something that just doesn't scale well for a university campus," Brown Computing and Information Services Senior Network Specialist Don Wright said. But while many schools have decided to banish Napster from campus, Penn officials say that they have no plans to place filters that will block the service. In a recent statement released by the Office of Information Services and Computing, University officials outlined Penn's policy with regard to the growing controversy surrounding Napster. The statement revealed no plans to cut off access to the service, merely cautioning users to be aware that they are exposing the contents of their computer to millions of outsiders and potential hackers and warning them of their individual liability should they be accused of copyright violations. Vice Provost for Information Services and Computing Jim O'Donnell said that the University's network was not seeing the same problems that other colleges were experiencing, citing Penn's large Internet connection and the currently small scale of Napster use on the network. Upon opening the Napster program, users are greeted by a message that clearly states the company's disassociation from any illegal actions that its users choose to take part in, effectively claiming that Napster itself only provides a service that can be used for good or ill. Bruhn agreed with that assertion, saying that the decision to cut off access had nothing to do with whether students were allegedly engaging in wholesale piracy, despite student objections that IU was engaged in censorship. "It was not anything other than a technical capacity issue. We weren't telling them they couldn't get their Tori Amos or James Taylor," Bruhn said. In addition, the recent lawsuit by the Recording Industry Association of America against Napster, alleging illegal distribution of copyrighted material, questions the service's legal right to even exist. But O'Donnell concurred with Napster's position on the legality of their service. "I don't think anybody will be able to say it's illegal and block it on those grounds," O'Donnell said. The major users of network access remain Web browsing and net services. But O'Donnell said that if Napster usage or any other large non-academic information transfers were blocking regular network services, the University was ready to take action to halt it. "If we find any system, or any site or anything creating difficulties for the campus as a whole, we know how to deal with that," O'Donnell said.
The Quakers were close, but never quite caught up to No. 4 seed Illinois WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- For the Penn Quakers, the door was open. The chance to pull off an upset was right in front of them. But as the seconds ticked off the clock, that chance slowly slipped further from their grasp and soon disappeared as the clock wound down at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Fourth-seeded Illinois would be the one to move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and the 13th-seeded Penn men's basketball team (21-8) would soon find itself on a plane back to Philadelphia from Winston-Salem, N.C. Penn's Ivy League championship season came to an abrupt end last Friday, as the Fighting Illini (22-10) came away with a 68-58 victory in the first round of the Eastern Regional. "We had a number of opportunities in the second half, but we missed a couple of easy chances at that," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "Against a team like Illinois that will hurt you badly." Penn's inability to capitalize on their chances indeed hurt in the end. Despite limiting star Illinois guard Cory Bradford to just five points on 2-of-9 shooting and forcing 11 turnovers in the second half, the Quakers were just never able to close the gap. Part of the reason for the loss was the fact that center Geoff Owens and senior point guard Michael Jordan found themselves in early foul trouble. Part of it was because the Quakers shot just 34.6 percent from the field in the second half, and part was that the Red and Blue could not get to the foul line enough. These parts added up to a victory for Illinois, which went on to fall to Florida in the second round on Sunday. "We were pleased with the number of turnovers we forced. We were disappointed that Mike [Jordan] and Geoff [Owens] got into foul trouble," Dunphy said. "A culmination of a lot of those factors leads to the fact that a good team like Illinois wins the game." Another reason for Illinois coming away with the win was the stellar play of freshman point guard Frank Williams. While Bradford, last year's Big 10 Freshman of the Year, was never able to make an impact against the Quakers, it was Williams who did much of the damage. The freshman scored a career-high 21 points in 35 minutes of action. "[Williams] stepped up and made some outstanding shots. He penetrated and laid the ball up, and we didn't play well enough defensively," Jordan said. "He is a good player, a scoring machine and that is what he did." It's also exactly what the Quakers did not do. Penn opened the game with a 6-2 lead on three-pointers by Ugonna Onyekwe and Matt Langel. That lead, however, did not last very long. With 17 minutes and six seconds remaining in the first half, Williams buried a three. That sparked a 16-0 run by the Illini, giving them a 18-6 lead, one they would never relinquish. Penn eventually closed that lead, but as the margin got smaller, the Quakers started finding themselves in foul trouble. With 11:52 remaining in the half, Jordan picked up his first foul. Thirty-nine seconds later, Dunphy had him on the bench with three personals. "I never got three fouls in the span of like 30 seconds before," Jordan said. "I should have backed off, but I try to play with as much intensity as I can." Owens also found himself on the bench with three fouls of his own as the first half wound down. With starting Illini center Brian Cook only playing 13 minutes, Owens was often matched up with reserve center Marcus Griffin, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Griffin consistently found his way to the basket, and the Quakers often reacted by fouling. "That was one of our main focuses going in," Griffin said. "We had to let them know the Big 10 is a rough, tough conference." With Owens seated on the sidelines, Dunphy turned to reserves Oggie Kapetanovic and Koko Archibong. As time expired in the first half, Kapetanovic hit a short baseline jumper to pull the Quakers to within five at 34-29. It seemed as though Penn might have finally gained the momentum. After a turnover by Bradford to open the second half, Jordan made a slashing drive down the lane to cut the Illini's lead to three. Three minutes later, as Frank Brown swished a jumper from the top of the key, Penn was only trailing by one at 38-37. But then it all fell apart. Three-pointers by Langel missed the mark, and Onyekwe's layups just would not go down. During the last minute, Penn resorted to fouling the Illini. Illinois buried most of its foul shots and walked off the court with a 68-58 win. And so, an Ivy championship season came to an end. The Langel-Jordan era in the Penn backcourt is over. A 16-game winning streak was halted, and the Quakers returned home with another less-than-memorable tournament performance. The chance was there, but Penn was simply not able to take hold of it.
Penn had its chances against the Illini, but struggles on offense led to its downfall. WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- With 7:57 left in the first half of its NCAA Tournament game against Illinois Friday afternoon, it looked as if the Penn men's basketball team had been caught in an Illini ambush. The Quakers trailed, 27-12. Penn guard Michael Jordan had just checked back into the game, but the co-captain had three fouls on him, all of which were whistled in a 39-second flurry in the ninth minute. The Red and Blue were hoping that they had hit rock bottom and that their Big 10 foe wouldn't be able to turn it into a blowout before the break. From then until halftime, the Quakers fought back with a vengeance. Fueled by deft offense-defense substitutions by Penn coach Fran Dunphy that allowed Jordan to steer clear of a lethal fourth foul, the Quakers narrowed the gap in a hurry. Frank Brown scored five points; Geoff Owens and Ugonna Onyekwe had two apiece; and Jordan sank two clutch three-pointers during this stretch. When halftime arrived, Illinois led, 34-29, and Penn had more than a fighting chance. "I thought we were fortunate to be down by five," Dunphy said. "We talked about being down less than 10 with two minutes to go in the first half. We did that and then some." It looked as if Penn was in perfect shape to come out with the victory if the Illini floundered after halftime. Coach Lon Kruger's team wound up playing a very sloppy second session -- turning the ball over 11 times, compared to just three mishandles for the Quakers. But this did not translate into an upset. Illinois faltered, but Penn never capitalized. The second half was a story of missed opportunities. The Quakers defense played admirably, forcing a bevy of turnovers and shutting down Illinois from the outside -- nine of the Illini's 11 second-half field goals came from inside the key. "We were pleased with the number of turnovers we forced," Dunphy said. Despite these 11 Illini miscues, Penn was able to manage just 10 points off turnovers in the second stanza. The principal reason for its inability to forge ahead of the No. 4 seed was Penn's uninspiring shooting from the field. The Quakers shot just 34 percent from the floor, compared to 55 percent for Illinois. "We had a number of opportunities in the second half to close the gap, but we missed a couple of easy chances at that," Dunphy said. "Against a team like Illinois that will hurt you badly." The Quakers narrowed the lead to just one point, 38-37, following a Brown jumper with 16:58 left. Penn went scoreless for the next 2:27 as Illinois stretched the lead back out to seven with a Cory Bradford layup. For the remainder of the contest, the Quakers committed just one turnover. The Illini gave up the ball eight times in the same span, but Penn's final margin of defeat still wound up at 10. Perhaps the most confounding stretch for the Quakers began with 6:40 to go in the game. Penn was on a 4-0 run on the strength of an Onyekwe 15-footer and layup by the power forward after a Matt Langel steal. The score stood at 57-50. And that's where it stayed for three frustrating minutes. Even though Illinois turned over two possessions in this period, Penn was unable to notch a basket. Langel, Onyekwe and Oggie Kapetanovic each missed a shot. Onyekwe's hurt the most -- a blown transition bucket off of a Jordan steal. Despite strong defense, Penn would never get within seven for the rest of the game. The Quakers' lack of production in this span hurt them severely. By the time Penn scored on an Onyekwe dunk with 2:28 left, time was tight, and the outcome was almost in hand. Six unanswered Illini points later, the Big 10 runners-up were ahead, 56-52, with a minute remaining. The Quakers had been unable to erase the lead when they had the chance. The shots had not fallen, and their season was over because of it. Penn's performance from the field could have been somewhat less do-or-die if they had done better on the boards in the second session. Illinois outrebounded the Quakers in a big way in the final 20 minutes. The young Illini grabbed 22 total boards, six off the offensive glass and 16 on defense. Those numbers doubled Penn's total of 11 boards, only four of which came on defense. Penn's poor rebounding performance was due largely to the absence of Owens from the Quakers lineup. The second team All-Ivy selection played just three minutes in the second half because of foul trouble, getting called for his fifth foul with 7:36 left. Owens, who was averaging 7.4 boards per game, had just four against the athletic Illini. Owens' early departure added to Penn's list of "what-ifs" in this game of missed opportunities.
The University arranged deals for service with two commercial ISPs. Officials yesterday released plans for moving Penn's off-campus Internet users from the soon-to-be discontinued modem pool to commercial service providers. The modem pool has provided free on-line access since 1986. But with new, faster technology available in the private sector, officials decided to discontinue the pool by mid-2002. So starting in July, users will be charged to dial into the service and will be encouraged to switch to a commercial Internet service provider. "Our modem pool is obsolete," Vice Provost for Information Services and Computing Jim O'Donnell said yesterday. "It's too slow, and it's too small and it's getting slower and smaller by the day." On July 1, the approximately 15,000 dial-up users -- predominately students, faculty and staff who live off campus -- can choose between continuing to use the modem pool for $13 a month, or use a commercial provider. ISC officials have negotiated preferred relationships with DCANet and Bell Atlantic, two commercial ISPs, to provide services to students for $12.95 per month. The private ISPs will provide students with a 56 kbps connection, which is significantly faster than the 33.6 kbps dial-up offered by the Penn modem pool. Additionally, the private ISPs will give students unlimited use of dial-up services, while the University dial-up pool terminates the connection after one hour of use. "Our recommendation is that if you want quality of service, you go with one of the $12.95 service providers," O'Donnell said. He estimated that the technological advantages of the commercial ISPs will prompt students to change from the Penn service to the private sector within the next two years at the rate of approximately 3,000 users per six months. "It's a pain to make the changeover, but at some point people are going to sit down and look at it and realize they can get better, faster service for the same amount of money," O'Donnell added. To make sure DCANet and Bell Atlantic are providing users with quality services, ISC will run a pilot program with 180 users in April. With this service, the University will pay a user's ISP fees for the first three months provided that the user provides detailed and specific evaluations of the commercial service. "We want to make sure the commercial providers are doing a good job," O'Donnell said. "That's a way to make sure real Penn people are getting the quality of service necessary for Penn purposes." O'Donnell said running the modem pool costs the University around $1 million each year. And to update the 33.6 kbps service to 56 kbps -- the current speed of commercial ISPs -- would cost the University an additional million dollars. While users will be charged for the basic dial-up use of the modem pool, a smaller "express pool," where users can dial in for 15 minutes, will remain free. That way, O'Donnell said, students will be able to quickly check their e-mail without being charged. "We're not doing this for the money," he explained. "We're doing this so users can get the technology they need at Penn."
For the Penn gymnastics team, Saturday's ECAC Championships at the Palestra was one of the best meets of the season. The Quakers scored a second-place team finish, had two individual champions and earned two ECAC awards. Earning a score of 190.675, the Quakers finished only 1.175 points behind champion James Madison, much better than their No. 4 seed heading into the meet. "It was a good, solid meet," Penn coach Tom Kovic said. "James Madison did a nice job and deserved to win the championship." However, nothing impressed Kovic more than the collective performance of his team. "They truly gave their best effort -- they never gave in and never let down," Kovic said. "To finish with that score is a great way to go out." Penn sophomore and DP photographer Lauren Hittner was crowned the ECAC all-around champion with a score of 38.600 and then was later named Co-ECAC Athlete of the Year, along with James Madison's Betsy Hernandez. "Lauren had a brilliant day. She went in and hit four-for-four. She's a worthy regional contender and she proved that Saturday," Kovic said. The balance beam title was captured by Penn senior Becky Nadler, adding to her 1998 ECAC floor exercise and 1997 balance beam championships. En route to her title, she broke Penn's balance beam record -- which fell three times Saturday alone -- with an outstanding score of 9.950. "It was great to win beam and set a new record. It was just like my freshman year. I gave it everything I had and don't have any regrets," Nadler said. The Quakers' beam team established a new school record for the event, with a 49.125. That point total was also the highest among all teams in any event. "To say balance beam was our strongest event is an understatement," Kovic said. "Beam was our last event and we went into the rotation behind James Madison and William and Mary. Not only did they have enough energy and focus to do well, but to perform in record-breaking style speaks volumes." Penn senior Kirby Thorpe was awarded the ECAC Scholar Athlete of the year award, capping off a solid performance in the last meet of her career. "It sounds cheesy, but as I was flying through the air on my dismount [on uneven bars] knowing that it was the last time I'd ever be doing that, it felt damn good to know that I had just done exactly what was expected of me from the rest of my team," Thorpe said. Collectively, five personal-best scores were earned by Penn senior Joci Newman, junior Jenn Capasso and sophomore Jean Troast. For Newman and Capasso especially, the feats marked triumph over adversity. "It was a great meet, my last meet, and I couldn't ask to go out on a better note, my beam routine and making my [personal best score in] vault," Newman said. Capasso returned from a hyper-extended knee suffered during the Quakers' dual meet with Wilson, which kept her sidelined during the Wolfpack Invitational on March 11. "Not only did we get her back into the all-around, but she really stepped up for us in all of the events and scored personal bests in the uneven bars, balance beam and all-around. It was just great," Kovic said. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the meet was the absence from the lineup of Penn captain Lizzie Jacobson, who was out with food poisoning. She was still at the Palestra, however, to cheer the Quakers on. "I am so proud of everyone. We pulled together as a team and made this really count," Jacobson said. The Red and Blue's performance was typical of their season, with a solid overall team score, broken school records and new personal bests.
Crime during last week's spring break period dropped to its lowest level in recent years, highlighted by just two serious incidents and a small number of minor thefts. University Police said that only 12 criminal incidents were reported between March 10 and March 20, reflecting a rate not significantly different from the rate in weeks when campus is more fully populated. Victims in neither of the more serious crimes sustained major injuries or losses. The most significant incident of the week occurred in the early morning hours of March 10, when a female University student reported that she was grabbed by an unknown man while walking on Woodland Walk, located behind Steinberg-Dietrich Hall. According to the student, the man crept up behind her and grabbed her by the neck, at which point he warned her not to make any noise. Seconds later, he fled in an unknown direction without taking anything anything. The student was not hurt in the incident. In the other serious reported crime, a house on the 300 block of South 40th Street was burglarized later the same day. Police responded to a call from concerned neighbors and arrested two 19-year-old New Jersey men, identified as Joshua Simmons and Johnny Bravo, whom police observed attempting to remove items from the residence. The two men had apparently gained entrance to the house through a skylight. A check of the premises later confirmed that they did not remove or damage anything. The other 10 crime reports include three bicycle thefts and seven minor thefts from within automobiles and area buildings. The total value of all items reported stolen was about $3,600. Police officials are crediting certain preventative measures with helping to reduce crime, including an off-campus registering program which allowed vacationing students to request that police patrol the area around their homes several times a day during break. "I was pleasantly surprised," University Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Thomas King said. "The checks and patrols went pretty well." The registration program, King added, has been specifically successful in both preventing crime and establishing bonds between the police and off-campus residents. "It's something that we're working on as we reach out to the off-campus locations, and we're really trying to extend the program," he said. "It seems to be working." King said that while University Police are proud of the recent drop in crime -- and specifically pleased with the results of their efforts to combat crimes such as bike theft -- the department continues to take steps to prevent future incidents. "It's a combination of factors [that contribute to the decrease in crime]," King said. "We're cautiously optimistic that the crime will stay low."
Penn finished ninth as Brett Matter became its first NCAA champion since 1942. ST. LOUIS -- The bar is officially raised. The Penn wrestling team continued its steady climb into the national wrestling elite with a ninth-place team finish at the NCAA Championships this past weekend at the Kiel Center. The top-10 finish is the team's first since 1942, when it finished eighth. The tournament also saw Penn produce its first NCAA champion since Richard DiBatista won back-to-back titles in 1941 and 1942. Senior captain and two-time All-American Brett Matter took home the individual title at 157 pounds, beating Boise State's Larry Quisel, 4-2, in Saturday night's final. Captains Rick Springman (174) and Bandele Adeniyi-Bada (heavyweight) also earned All-American honors for the Quakers, placing fifth and sixth, respectively. Mike Fickell (197) fell one round short of placing. The road to the top 10 has been a gradual climb for Penn under coach Roger Reina, who has seen his team's national ranking improve throughout his 14 seasons. "We had the same number of athletes in the semifinals as [eventual champion] Iowa did," Reina said. "We had a finalist and champion. Oklahoma State [had] no one in the finals. "There's some pretty significant comparisons here with the elite programs in the country. I think we made some waves out here." Seeded No. 2 in the tournament, Matter almost hit a serious road bump on his way to the finals in his semifinal match against No. 11 Corey Wallman of Wisconsin. After a scoreless first period, Matter escaped to start the second period for a 1-0 lead. Matter held his narrow lead until very late in the third period, when Wallman got a reversal to go up 2-1. Matter took the down position with nine seconds left in the match, his riding time advantage erased. Matter needed an escape to tie the match and send it into overtime, but with three seconds remaining, Penn's all-time winningest wrestler got a reversal of his own to squeak out the close victory. "I saw my coaches' expressions after I got reversed, and I was pretty confident that I was going to get out, but I wasn't expecting a reversal," Matter said. "I was just going more towards escaping and going into overtime." Matter's semifinal win set up a finals match with fifth-seed Quisel, who shocked the Kiel Center crowd with his dramatic overtime win over top-ranked T.J. Williams of Iowa. Quisel -- who at last year's NCAA Championships placed third and won the Gorrarian Award for most falls -- took the heavily favored Williams down in overtime. Matter, who saw Quisel beat Williams as he took the down position at the end of his match, did not get the opportunity to avenge a 5-3 loss he suffered to Williams at the Midlands Open in December. Instead, he used a late first period takedown to propel him to the NCAA title. After the takedown, he rode out Quisel the rest of the period, building a 2-0 lead. He escaped to start the second period and added another escape point after a Quisel takedown. A scoreless third period left the final score 4-2. Matter and his father, Andrew, join just three other father-son pairs to win NCAA titles. Andrew Matter won championships for Penn State in 1971 and 1972. Adeniyi-Bada earned All-America honors for the second straight year, improving on his eighth-place finish last year. Coming in as a No. 5 seed, Adeniyi-Bada wrestled his way into the semifinals with a close, 3-2 win over Illinois fourth-seed John Lockhart. But in the semis, Adeniyi-Bada ran into Minnesota's massive top-seed and eventual champion Brock Lesnar. Adeniyi-Bada had lost a 5-4 match to Lesnar in the NWCA All-Star meet, but this time Lesnar dominated the match, building an 11-0 lead before pinning Adeniyi-Bada at 6:41. "It's something that might have affected his confidence somewhat," Reina said. "I think Bandele didn't fully get himself up from that semifinal disappointment." Adeniyi-Bada was pinned in the consolation semifinals by Boston College's Antonio Garay -- who won this year's Gorrarian Award. He then lost his fifth-place bout to Tim Courtad of Ohio University. Springman, who was one round short of placing last year, lost a semifinal match to Josh Koscheck of Edinboro. The two had split two close matches this year -- a 1-0 win for Springman at the Midlands and an overtime win for Koscheck at the All-Star meet. But Koscheck used two takedowns to grab a 6-4 victory in the rubber match. After losing in the consolation semis to Randy Pugh of Northern Iowa, Springman came back with a vengeance, winning a convincing 8-1 decision over Mark Dufresne of Lehigh. It was the fourth time the EIWA rivals had met this year, and the second time in the NCAA Tournament, all resulting in victories for Springman, who spent most of the year ranked No. 2 in the nation at 174 pounds. "Rick was heartbroken again," Reina said. "He set his goals at the top -- he came here to win. It's a real character test to have to rebound, and Rick has character in spades." Penn regrouped from an up-and-down dual meet season, in which the Quakers went 9-5 and finished ranked No. 15 in the nation, to regain a level of accomplishment not seen since before World War II. The Quakers are no longer just the Cinderella team from the Ivy League. With its ninth-place follow-up to last year's 11th-place finish, Penn has shown continued and consistent improvement on a national level.
Michael Tobin died at FIJI one year ago today. The campus is still feeling the aftershocks. Michael Tobin died at FIJI one year ago today. The campus is still feeling the aftershocks.Part one of four In the early morning hours of March 21, 1999, Michael Tobin's lifeless body was found lying behind the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house at 3619 Locust Walk. Tobin, a 26-year-old alumnus and FIJI brother, fell down a flight of stairs to his death after a night of drinking at the fraternity house and in local bars. Stunned by the death, the campus was forced to examine its social climate, with particular attention paid to student alcohol abuse. Within days, University President Judith Rodin announced a ban on alcohol at undergraduate events while the school reviewed its policy. Students erupted angrily in protest against the decision, staging the largest student rally the school had seen in the 1990s. More than 1,000 students gathered on College Green to protest the lack of consultation with students prior to the implementation of the ban. But despite the heated campus controversy, students, administrators and faculty members worked together on a task force --Ethe provost-led Working Group on Alcohol Abuse -- which in five weeks produced a series of recommendations for a new alcohol policy that administrators hoped would, over time, change Penn's social culture. The policy, which was fully implemented in the fall, called for new disciplinary and educational measures, increased monitoring at on-campus parties and also outlined an ambitious range of social programming goals. The committee's hope was that through more social outlets -- such as the recommended alcohol-free music club or late-night movies -- students would have other options besides drinking on a Saturday night. A year later, the number of big fraternity parties has visibly decreased, and there are University-sponsored alcohol-free social events every weekend. But students say the amount of drinking at Penn has remained constant and that the culture at Penn -- long known as the social Ivy -- has stayed the same, with many parties simply going underground. "Parties a year ago were much bigger, though I think now we still have the same amount of alcohol," College junior Kelli Toland said. Still, administrators and WGAA members say that while changes cannot happen overnight, definite progress has been made in shifting the campus social scene away from just drinking. "You can't expect students who are used to a certain lifestyle to suddenly make the change," said Undergraduate Assembly Treasurer Michael Bassik, a College junior who served on the WGAA. "It's a part of the overall goal of changing the culture towards [the recognition] of the abusive use of alcohol," said Provost Robert Barchi, who spent much of his first months in office dealing with the fall-out from Tobin's death. Bassik, who currently serves on Barchi's alcohol advisory group -- the Alcohol Rapid Response Team -- added, "We can't attempt to change the number of students who drink, but [to change] the environment in which they drink." Over the past semester, the University has worked with various groups and organizations on campus to increase the number of non-alcoholic social options available to students. The 12 college houses are each responsible for hosting three events per semester as part of the Penn P.M. program. Each house is assigned three random dates for a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. It is then at their discretion to plan the activities. In addition to the implementation of new events and activities, Director of College Houses and Academic Services David Brownlee said that there has been an increased awareness of pre-existing activities. "It's unfair to say that a year ago nothing happened at Penn except parties where people drank," Brownlee said. The activities at Harrison College House have been lauded and very well attended, according to House Dean Art Casciato. Rooftop dances with specific themes, ranging from Sinatra and Antipasto to salsa dancing, pool tournaments and all-night movie marathons have been just a few of the house's offerings this past semester. The Office of the Vice Provost for University Life has also been a leader in the planning of non-alcoholic entertainment options for Penn students. The neighborhood festival, the Def Comedy Jam and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher have all been part of the VPUL's offerings, according to Alcohol Policy Coordinator Stephanie Ives, whose position was created last fall as a result of a WGAA recommendation. And student groups on campus have also taken the initiative to plan activities for University students. The Social Planning and Events Committee, for instance, has hosted movie screening nights at Irvine Auditorium, as well as concerts. Coffee houses and Kelly Writers House events have also been offered. Barchi also noted that the opening of Perelman Quadrangle this summer will provide a range of eating options and late-night social spaces catering to student needs. He added that other social recommendations, such as the proposed bowling alley, will come to Penn if it can find space and resources. But as University-sponsored social events have increased, the number of on-campus parties have gone down -- perhaps because of the increased party monitoring. Greek on-campus parties have severely dropped off and there has been a visible movement of once on-campus parties to off-campus locations. Wharton senior Bill Conway, the former chairman of the Undergraduate Assembly and a WGAA member, recalled his freshman year at Penn, when "there were three or four fraternity parties every weekend." The Phi Kappa Psi brother added that "the amount of on-campus parties has been steadily declining for a long time? and the alcohol policy just sped that up." Conway noted that those who want to drink still have that option, but "almost to a stronger degree because [they'll] go somewhere unmonitored." Conway also noted the negative ramifications that have resulted from the University's stance. "This could just be my perception, but I feel like there is more drug use, and I think that people who have a problem with alcohol are in more danger," he said. Drug and Alcohol Resource Team President Molly MacDonald, a Nursing junior, said she believed that the new policy had not affected drug use on campus. She did add, however, that she saw an increase in illegal drug use during Spring Fling last year, which occurred in the middle of the five-week alcohol ban. "I think a lot more people were under the influence of substances than in years past," she said of last year's Fling, attributing it to the alcohol ban. Administrators said there are no plans to make Penn a dry campus again. And most WGAA members said they are pleased with the progress of the policy over the past semester. Barchi said he likes that many parties have moved off campus to monitored locations, such as bars or restaurants. "These are the best places where you can have these kind of events," he said, noting that he has the highest confidence in registered off-campus functions.
Last fall, the Penn men's golf team accomplished something that it has never done in team history -- the Quakers finished a tournament under par. That weekend, the squad captured the Georgetown Hoya Invitational by shooting two-under-par, winning by 11 shots over runner-up Navy. "Collectively, we shot some of the best golf ever?. It was awesome," Penn senior Rob Hunt said. After coming off a strong fall season, the Quakers enter this spring season with plenty of optimism. "The fall season was successful," Penn senior captain Rob Goldfaden said. "Georgetown [Invitational] showed that we are cable of competing with anybody. It showed that we had a talented team." The only complaint that Penn coach Francis Vaughn might have with his team was its lack of consistency in the fall. "We weren't quite consistent," Goldfaden said. "We had some good tournaments, some OK tournaments, but luckily no bad tournaments." Goldfaden went on to say that there was nothing specific that the team had to work on, but a wining formula will need to feature hard work and practice. "We should win the Ivy League Championships if we practice real hard," Goldfaden said. "There are guys on the team who have been practicing on their own in the offseason." After taking the frigid winter off, the squad will play six tournaments in the spring, including the Ivy League Championships in the middle of its season on the weekend of April 15 and 16. The Quakers will commence play over spring break as Vaughn has planned a trip to Palm Beach, Fla., for his team. Penn will probably get a chance to play at the esteemed West Palm Beach Country Club and Emerald Dunes golf courses. "It won't take long to get back into form. We know what it's like to take the winter off. We'll be ready," Goldfaden said. After playing a few rounds of golf next week, the team will start tournament play at the East Carolina Invitational on March 16-18.
This Sunday at Penn State, Penn's best fencers will ry to earn bids to the NCAA championships. Last weekend, the Penn men's fencing team got revenge on Princeton when it took second place -- one spot ahead of the Tigers -- at the IFAs at Yale. This Sunday at the NCAA Regionals at Penn State, strong performances will win the Quakers something equally, if not more, important -- bids to the NCAA championships. Twelve of the Quakers will head to State College where they will compete against a selective group of fencers from the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and states to the south. "It's a business trip, not a celebration," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "We're going there to try and qualify as many fencers as we can to NCAAs." Regionals are invitation-only -- to qualify, a fencer must have fenced in half of his team's meets and won half of his bouts. Qualification for NCAAs is based upon season evaluation -- which considers a fencer's personal record, the number of bouts won against high-ranked opponents and the strength of the team schedule -- in addition to the fencer's final placement at regionals. Though regional placement is important in determining NCAA qualification, sophomore epeeist Jim Benson noted that a lackluster performance on Sunday will not necessarily disqualify a fencer. "If you had a really good season and you did badly at regionals, you could still go to nationals," he said. On Sunday, fencers will be seeded into pools. Competitors will be eliminated in each round, and the tournament will end with a 12-person round robin. Penn sophomore sabre Jeff Lee noted that fencers will be under less pressure in the regional competition -- and individual tournament -- because their results will not directly affect the team. But strong performances at NCAAs boost a team's rankings. Lee and junior foilist David Cohen are optimistic about the Quakers' chances for qualifying for NCAAs. Last year, five Penn fencers made the cut -- including epeeists Charles Hamann and Scott Eriksen and sabre Mike Golia, who hope to repeat their NCAA-qualifying performances at regionals. But Lee is aware that the competition at regionals will be fierce. "There are less people, but better competition," he said. Penn Athletics Compliance Coordinator D. Elton Cochran-Fikes noted that in its region, Penn has one of the highest numbers of participants. "That speaks volumes of the competitiveness of the Penn fencing team," he said. Penn is coming off an impressive 10-4 season and has been training all week for regionals. "Some of the people will do very well," Micahnik said. "But we can't all do very well. We're in an extremely strong region." For senior captain David Liu, regionals may be his last collegiate competition. "It's my last shot at NCAAs," he said. "I will be disappointed if I don't make it. But the team and I have had one of the best seasons since I've been a Penn fencer." And even though the tournament cuts into the the first weekend of spring break, Lee said the Quakers are looking forward to the trip. "Team trips are always a blast," he said. "We always have fun."
This spring, the Penn women's golf team looks to improve upon the strides it made this past fall in its first full season with varsity status. The spring season kicks off with the William and Mary Invitational April 1-2, in Williamsburg, Va. After that, the team will travel to Bethpage, N.Y., for the Ivy Championships April 15-16. But like many college students, the Quakers will be traveling down to Palm Beach, Fla., for spring break -- to get in some rounds at the storied PGA National course. Penn will also compete in the East Carolina University Invitational March 16-18, as a warmup to their April matches. "The ECU [tournament] will be a good chance to see how we're playing," senior captain Natasha Miller said. Coach Francis Vaughn, who also coaches the Penn men's team, has set team goals in terms of enjoyment and progress rather than scores, and his players have taken those goals to heart. "We're looking forward to [the spring season] with a lot of optimism," junior Jen Schraut said. "[Our goals] are to have fun and to keep improving." In three tournaments this past fall the Quakers showed steady improvements in their overall scores, even if their tournament placements did not reflect that effort. In their third and final tournament of the fall, October's Rutgers Invitational, the Red and Blue recorded the lowest score in their short history, shooting a 391 on the first day. They followed this up with an even better showing the next day, as they carded a 381 on Saturday. The two-day score of 772 was a drastic improvement over the 857 that the team shot in their first tournament of the season and may be a mark of good things to come for Penn. Since the winter prevented the Quakers from practicing outdoors at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, the five members of the team spent the offseason honing their games using a new computer system within their indoor practice facility in Hutchinson Gymnasium. As the golfer hits the ball into a net, a video camera records her form. She can then set up a split-screen in which she can compare her technique to either another one of her own swings or that of a professional. "We worked on our swings with coach [Vaughn] -- that helped a lot," Schraut said. "The past couple of weeks we've been able to actually get outside and practice some." With the arrival of warmer weather, the team should have plenty of opportunities to get in some rounds before its first match at the beginning of April. For now, though, the current squad would just like to keep building on its success, asserting that the sub-400 rounds they recorded at Rutgers are a reasonable expectation for both spring tournaments. "Our goal is to keep up the pace we had in the fall," Miller said. "We want to keep team morale up and make sure that we make constant improvement." Prior to this year, the women competed as members of the Penn golf program as part of a mixed team. However, the combination of interest by the student body and a generous gift of $250,000 from the Pappas family provided the funding to boost the women's golf program up to varsity status.
The Quakers are sending a total of seven wrestlers to the NCAAs in St. Louis. The Penn wrestling team will be experiencing a little March Madness of its own next week. The No. 15 Quakers are sending seven wrestlers to the 2000 NCAA Championships. The tournament starts Thursday and runs through next Saturday at the Kiel Center in St. Louis. Even though they came up short in their quest for a fifth consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association team title, the Red and Blue still managed to qualify wrestlers in seven of the 10 weight classes -- all except the 125, 165 and 185-pound levels. While Penn looks to improve upon last year's 11th-place finish at the NCAAs, senior tri-captains Brett Matter (157) and Bandele Adeniyi-Bada (heavyweight) and junior tri-captain Rick Springman (174) enter the tournament with legitimate shots at winning individual titles. One of the keys for Penn in St. Louis will be Matter, who has lost only once this year and is currently ranked second in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News. Matter was the shining star for the Quakers at the EIWA tournament. With his individual title at 157, Matter became the EIWA's first four-time champion in 17 years, earning both the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler Award and the Fletcher Award, given to the wrestler with the most career EIWA points. For Matter, this will be a chance to improve upon a fifth-place showing at last year's NCAAs. He tore through his first three opponents before losing to top seed and eventual national champion T. J. Williams of Iowa. Matter then lost to the second seed, Oklahoma State's Reggie Wright, but was able to rebound for a fifth-place finish. "Personally, I want to win," Matter said. "I think that [a title] is within my reach." Adeniyi-Bada, currently ranked fifth in the nation, emerged victorious from a strong heavyweight class at the EIWAs, closing out the tournament with a 3-2 win over Harvard's Dawid Rechul. In last year's NCAAs, Adeniyi-Bada overcame a hip injury early on to finish in seventh place overall. In the NWCA All-Star Classic earlier this season, Adeniyi-Bada lost a close 5-4 decision to national No. 1 Brock Lesnar of Minnesota, who will be the favorite in the heavyweight division in St. Louis. Springman came away from Easterns with an individual title as well as the Sheridan Award for most falls in the least amount of time, which he sealed with a third period fall in the finals over fifth-ranked Ed Mosley. Springman will look to improve upon last year's performance, when he was knocked out of the competition just one round short of placing among the top eight finishers. In addition to the three nationally ranked captains, the Quakers will be represented by senior Jason Nagle (133), freshman Jody Giuricich (141), senior Jon Gough (149) and No. 14 junior Mike Fickell (197). Nagle is the only one of this group who will be making a return to this year's tournament. While these wrestlers may not be the odds-on favorites to win, they can earn All-American status by placing in the top eight of their respective weight classes. "If we all wrestle to our potential and peak at the right time, the sky's the limit," Matter said. On the strength of three All-American performances -- a Penn record -- by Matter, Andrei Rodzianko (197) and Adeniyi-Bada, the Quakers finished 11th in the nation last year, just one point behind 10th-place Boise State. Not only was this a marked improvement over the 27th-place showing the previous year, but it also was Penn's best result in 57 years. "As a team, we have a lot of potential," Matter said. "I don't see why a top 10 [team finish] is out of our reach."
The Quakers hope that home-gum advantage will help in their season finale. On Saturday, the Penn men's basketball team clinched the Ivy League title at the Palestra. Three days later, the team defeated Princeton for the first time there since 1996. The Penn gymnastics team is ready to put on a show of its own at the historic gym. On March 18, the Quakers will try to end their season with a title of their own -- the ECAC Championship -- and they know it's their turn to benefit from that storied Palestra magic. "It sounds clichZ, but it's just a special place," Penn captain Lizzie Jacobson said. Hosting the event will clearly give Penn an edge -- if not because of the familiarity of their home equipment, then at least because of the supportive home base and the elimination of tiring travel. "I'm terribly excited about hosting the ECACs," Penn coach Tom Kovic said. "We've got our sights set on winning." As it is the final meet of the season, and for the seniors the last of their Penn careers, the Quakers know that the stakes are higher here than at any other meet. "It's definitely the culmination of the season," junior Sarah Bruscia said. "We're looking forward to really hitting routines and winning." Winning the ECACs is the one goal the Red and Blue have been striving toward all season long. "As Tom says, this is the big picture," Penn senior Joci Newman said. With the Ivy Classic title under their belts, the Quakers feel that at the very least they have an advantage against the Ivy teams they defeated in February. "Winning Ivies let other teams know the the losses earlier in the season [to Yale and Cornell] were flukes," Bruscia added. "It boosted our confidence and changed other teams' perceptions of us." Providing additional motivation for the Quakers is their disappointing fourth-place finish at last year's ECACs at Vermont. "Last year's [meet] was a rough meet because we traveled a lot before ECACs," senior Becky Nadler said. "We're looking forward to redeeming ourselves." The Quakers can see no acceptable excuses for a poor showing this year. "We're going to hit 24-for-24," Newman said. "We're at a point where we're mentally ready for competition." The seniors and juniors know the experience of an ECAC championship, winning their last title in 1998. This year, they are looking forward to showing the younger Quakers the taste of victory, and the newcomers are definitely excited about it. "I've never been to this type of a competition before," Penn freshman Veena Abraham said. "The freshmen really want to contribute to the team effort and turn in solid scores." For now, though, the Quakers are concentrating on getting healthy, as health is one unpredictable factor that may adversely affect their performance at the meet. Junior Jenn Capasso is still day-to-day with a hyperextended knee, an injury sustained at last weekend's meet against Wilson College while landing on her second vault. "She could be back in the lineup by ECACs, but I don't want to rush her and make her injury more severe," Kovic said. Junior Kelly Haberer will only compete on bars because of a ligament injury in her foot. Sophomore Sarah Tudryn, meanwhile, will definitely return from a bout with the flu that kept her out of the meet with Wilson. "We need to get the lineup together, get everyone healthy and ready to compete," Nadler said. Heading into the meet, the Quakers are seeded second in a field of seven, placing them behind James Madison but ahead of Ivy rival Yale. "The ECAC competition is wonderfully tight," Kovic said. "Every team has a clean slate at the meet, meaning that anyone can win." Still, the Quakers are expecting to take back the championship trophy. "We have a consistent season behind us with a meet at home, on our territory, with our fans," Jacobson said.
The young Quakers feature two sophomores who were All-Ivy in their rookie year. For the members of the Penn softball team, a trip to Florida over spring break means much more than just a chance to enjoy some nice weather and relax. The Quakers will head to the Sunshine State this weekend to open their season. With two tournaments and a total of 14 games on the schedule, this trip to the South is anything but a vacation for the squad. There is plenty of reason for optimism when it comes to this year's Quakers. After a 1999 campaign which saw Penn show marked improvement and with some talented young prospects, there is much excitement surrounding the upcoming season. "We are obviously still a pretty young team, but we have a lot of talent," Penn head coach Carol Kashow said. "We gained a lot of experience from last year and we have some really good players joining this year, so we're definitely ready to go." Eight players return from last year's squad, which finished 15-22 overall and 4-8 in the Ivy League. Among the returning players are two sophomore first team All-Ivy selections from a year ago, third baseman Jen Moore and outfielder Clarisa Apostol. With the abundance of youth on the team, the squad's three seniors will have to take active leadership roles if the team is to succeed. "We do only have three seniors and a lot of freshmen and sophomores," Kashow said. "But we're not too concerned about that because I'm confident that we'll get some really good leadership from our seniors." The team will quickly find out just how ready for the season they really are. Starting tomorrow, Penn plays two games a day until next Friday, every day except Wednesday. "It's nice that we will have one day off during the week," senior pitcher Suzanne Arbogast said. "I'm sure we'll find some way to enjoy ourselves that day, probably go to a theme park or something." Penn's first game of the season will be against Providence. The squad will wrap things up a week later against Tennessee Tech. "This trip to Florida is a great way for us to open the season," Kashow said. "We have been practicing a lot, and we are anxious to get out there and start playing in some games. With so many games in a week, we should really learn a lot about our team." Although the Ivy League season for Penn doesn't get underway until April 14, the Quakers are quick to point out the importance of winning some games early on in the year. "We're not really going down there with the attitude that we just want to prepare for the rest of the season or anything like that," senior outfielder Michelle Zaptin said. "We're excited to play, and we really want to win a bunch of games." The Quakers' success, especially at this early juncture in the season, could hinge on how well the the newest members of the Red and Blue adjust to the collegiate level. "Our eight freshmen have been doing a great job in practice," Zaptin said. "They really seem to be fitting in and I think that they are going to make big contributions to the success of our team." One key for the Red and Blue will be their pitching. With the third-best fielding in the Ivy League and hitting that should be consistent, pitching seems to be the squad's major area of concern. "The one thing that I will ask of the pitchers is to give our defense a chance to play," Kashow said. "But I'm confident in our pitchers and I think that they will do just fine down in Florida and for the rest of the season." If Penn's pitching improves and the fielding and hitting remain solid, the team that finished up last place in the Ivies a mere two years ago could be on pace to surprise some teams in 2000.
Students have spent the week enjoying unseasonable warmth and blue skies The sky has changed from overcast to sunny, squirrels and birds are scampering around all over campus and students are getting their first chance in months to sample some of their newly purchased tank tops, sunglasses and shorts. This week, all Penn students, regardless of whether they're going to spend spring break partying in Cancon or relaxing at home, received a week-long going-away gift in the form of blue skies and warm temperatures. "It's kind of spring fever," College junior Carolyn Naylor said. Indeed, there's little doubt that the Penn campus -- and Philadelphia as a whole -- has come to realize that, at last, spring is in the air. Beginning Monday, hordes of students crowded onto blankets on College Green or lounged on couches in front of their Locust Walk fraternity houses. And each of the perennial signs of spring -- music blaring on the Walk, tables set up outside the Palladium -- have been present all week. Yesterday, despite morning clouds and brief afternoon showers, Penn students were still enjoying the pleasant temperatures in the low 70s. It's been quite a change from the look of Penn's campus during the winter months, when both Locust Walk and College Green were nearly empty and the city was hit with below-freezing temperatures in mid-January. Then, the few people seen on campus were wearing several layers of clothing, running to and from their classes and making every attempt to keep warm. Students and teachers alike have enthusiastically greeted the week's warm weather. In fact, many small classes have been taught outside on College Green and many students, in turn, have opted to do their studying outside rather than in the library or in their rooms. "It's just nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the weather instead of being cooped up in your room," explained Wharton freshman Young Rhee, who took advantage of yesterday's weather to eat lunch on College Green with a friend. "It's been nice. I eat outside whenever I get a chance," Engineering junior Peter Withstandley said. "I've been spending more time outside." And even though the week before spring break is typically filled with exams and papers, some students have put their work on hold for the sake of baseball catches, pickup football games, frisbee tosses, guitar-playing sessions and dog-walking. "It just brings everyone out into the open," Naylor said. "People get really excited for school to end as the weather changes." The weather has not only affected the activities of Penn students on campus. The local beverage and ice cream shops, for example, are experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with lines of up to as many as 15 patrons at a time. Greg Sarkisian, who works at Amazon Juice in the Moravian CafZs food court, said the sale of smoothies at his store has sharply increased in the last three weeks. "It's almost an 80 percent increase in smoothie sales," Sarkisian said. Eric Yates, the owner of the Baskin Robbins on the 3900 block of Walnut Street, said he too has seen a large increase in the sales of ice cream and smoothies -- a phenomenon that started, he says, on Saturday night with the Penn men's basketball game at the Palestra. "From last week, sales have gone up easily 50 percent," Yates said. Still, the volatility of the Philadelphia climate has left at least one Penn student wondering just how long the warmth will last. "I am from Philly, so I am used to this weather change," College sophomore Liana Zatuchny said. "Philly weather goes up and down, so I would not be surprised if it started snowing again tomorrow." Zatuchny's assessment is not so far-fetched. Temperatures are expected to plummet into the mid-50s today, and the campus will likely be pelted by pouring rain tomorrow afternoon. But don't expect too many students to care. Many will already be soaking in the sun on beaches and cruises miles away.
Even though the Penn women's tennis team will be surrounded by glittering casinos and palm trees when it heads to Las Vegas and California over spring break, its time in the West won't be too relaxing -- the five nationally-ranked teams the Quakers will face will probably be their toughest matches of the season. For the first time ever, Penn will face top-ranked Stanford -- a team Penn coach Michael Dowd describes as "quite possibly the best college team of all time." The Cardinal, whom Penn will play on March 20, are 15-0 this season and are currently on a 33-match winning streak that began over a year ago. Stanford has only lost one point in its last 13 matches and is the only team in the top 10 that has defeated No. 2 California and No. 3 Georgia. In addition, Stanford currently holds the National Team Indoor Championships title. Three of the Cardinal -- No.1 singles Laura Granville, No. 5 Marissa Irvin and No. 6 Lauren Kalvaria -- are in the top 20 national singles rankings. "It will be fun playing them when half their team is going pro," Penn senior captain Elana Gold said. Gold believes that while the competition will obviously be tough, the Quakers aren't under much pressure and have nothing to lose. "Mike [Dowd] has predicted all year that we'll play our best tennis against Stanford," Gold said. "But it's going to be fun. That's why we go on spring break." The Quakers will begin their matches in Las Vegas when they play No. 68 UNLV on Sunday, March 12. Rebels senior Katarina Malec is ranked No. 20 in the rankings released March 1. The doubles team of Malec and sophomore Marianne Bakken received their first national ranking at No. 42. On March 13, the Quakers will challenge No. 44 Illinois State. Both teams currently hold a 4-5 record this season. Penn will play one more match at the UNLV courts -- against No. 52 Oklahoma State -- before moving on to California. The Quakers will play 24th-ranked Fresno State, which is currently 7-2, on March 18. And, saving the best for last, the Quakers will face Stanford on March 20 before heading home. Off the tennis courts, the Quakers plan to catch a few Vegas shows -- including Sigfried and Roy and a trapeze act -- and kick back and enjoy the West Coast. Even though the competition will be fierce, Penn senior Anastasia Pozdniakova has a laid-back attitude about the Quakers' upcoming matches. Pozdniakova believes the Quakers will have fun over spring break. She also thinks the trip will ultimately help them in the Ivy season -- which begins April 1 against Princeton. "Being relaxed will help us play better at Ivies," she said. "We have nothing to lose against these schools, so we just have to go out there and play our best." Penn sophomore Jolene Sloat sees spring break as a good opportunity to play schools that Penn usually doesn't get to play, and she believes that seeing a wide range of schools can only help the Red and Blue. In preparation for these very tough matches, the Quakers have been training especially hard in practice. In addition to spending hours on the tennis courts, the team hits the weight room and the track during practice. Dowd believes the results from these workouts will show during the spring break matches. "We're starting to see some results and some confidence," he said. "If we beat Stanford, it will be the biggest Penn upset of all time. And that's what we plan to do."
Penn will bring two first team All-Ivy selections to the NCAA Tournament. The temperature may have been hovering above 75 degrees outside for the past two days, but the weather is definitely not the hottest thing in West Philadelphia. That distinction goes to the Penn men's basketball team. Undefeated in league play and winners of 16 consecutive games, the Quakers (21-7, 14-0 Ivy League) have been gathering considerable steam heading into the NCAA Tournament. The team's confidence was no doubt bolstered yesterday when four Penn players were named to the 1999-2000 All-Ivy teams. Penn senior guard Michael Jordan (16.3 points per game, 4.9 assists per game) was named the Ivy League Player of the Year and earned first team All-Ivy honors for the third consecutive season. Jordan was joined on the first team by classmate Matt Langel, while center Geoff Owens and forward Ugonna Onyekwe both earned second team status. Onyekwe was also named the Ivy Rookie of the Year. "It feels good to get that honor bestowed upon you, because so many other great players have achieved that honor," Jordan said. "But I'm more happy with the fact that we went 14-0 and are going back to the Tournament. That's all I'm worried about right now." And with the Tournament set to begin next week, the Quakers are excited about their situation. "We're in a pretty similar situation to last year -- I think we were on a pretty good streak then as well," said Penn center Geoff Owens, comparing last season's 21-6 squad to this season's 21-7 team. "I think we have a good shot. I was excited going into last year, but obviously it didn't turn out like we wanted it to." Penn lost, 75-61, to Florida in the first round of last year's tournament. "But having been there and having lost a game, we have that experience under our belt, and I think it's going to help us this year," Owens said. "Hopefully, we'll be more prepared for what to expect." Quakers coach Fran Dunphy, who has coached eight different first team selections in his 11 seasons at Penn, spoke highly of his talented squad. "Well, I'm happy for all those guys," Dunphy said. "Starting with Michael as the MVP, I think it's a great honor and one that is well-deserved. "And Matt Langel, to be the second choice in the league, I thought that spoke a lot of his career, as well as this year." Langel (12.0 ppg) joined Jordan and Princeton center Chris Young as the only unanimous first-team selections. Onyekwe (11.5 ppg, 46 blocks) had a sensational freshman year with Penn, and though he was rewarded with individual honors, he prefers to dwell on his team's success. "It's one of those things where it's good to be recognized and all that, but it wouldn't mean anything if we hadn't won," Onyekwe said. "So with the winning and getting the Ivy title, that's an accomplishment." Unlike last March, Owens (9.0 ppg, 50 blocks) -- the fourth of Penn's honorees -- enters the postseason injury-free. The Quakers big man suffered a broken jaw at Dartmouth last February and played his final four games -- including the loss to Florida -- with his jaw wired shut. This March, with a healthy Owens alongside Onyekwe, Penn will look to bring it inside with greater success. Individual league honorees aside, the emphasis at yesterday's practice was clearly on team execution. "We're just going to try to make sure we're crisp offensively, and we can always get better defensively," Jordan said. "Our offense has been a little stagnant lately, so we're trying to work on that." The Quakers will gather as a team at 6 p.m. on Sunday to watch the NCAA Selection Show to see where they will be heading next week. Last March, Penn was placed in the West region and played in Seattle against the Gators. That game was only the third time in the Quakers' 17 Tournament appearances that the team had been sent out of the East region, so the squad is understandably hoping for a game closer to home this season. The first-round sites for the East Region are Buffalo, N.Y., and Winston-Salem, N.C. But Jordan, ever the competitor, was more concerned with getting back on the court than with the site. "I would like to be someplace closer where we can probably get some more fans," Jordan said. "But Seattle was great, and I really don't have a preference -- I just want to get out there and play." The Quakers won't know who they'll face for two more days, but current tournament projections have Penn pegged at a 13 or 14 seed and facing a major conference team such as No. 19 St. John's or No. 13 Texas. "I have no feeling, no sense about who we'll play -- you can go prognosticate as much as you want," Dunphy said. "I'd say a 12 or 13 would be the likely guess that we would be, which would mean that we'd play a four or a five. You can look at who is prognosticated as a four or five -- let's say it might be Texas. Then, we better be ready to play Texas. "As soon as Sunday night comes, we'll get film and see what happens." Despite yesterday's uplifting award announcements, now is the time for Penn to look ahead, not back. And sometime next weekend, the Quakers will try to make a name for themselves in the NCAA Tournament. "Hopefully we can get everyone focused for our second season," Owens said. "Obviously, we're happy we won the Ivies, but we're not satisfied with our season right now -- far from it."
After hearing where the Penn men's tennis team is spending its spring break, students may be left wishing they had practiced their forehand more often before coming to college. The Quakers today boarded a plane bound for their annual trip to Hawaii for a week of tennis with a tan. "This trip is 90 percent about playing tennis," senior co-captain Eric Sobotka said. "The other 10 percent is, well, you're in Hawaii, man." The Quakers' schedule has grown busier from last year, with five teams to play instead of three. Penn will once again compete against two squads it beat last year -- the University of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The Quakers will also face Brigham Young University at Hawaii, a team that beat the Quakers last year. Hawaii Pacific -- which Penn scrimmaged last year but did not officially play -- and Chaminade are the new additions to the schedule. The challenge for Penn will be defeating Hawaii Pacific and BYU-Hawaii. The BYU team is composed of many outstanding foreign players, despite the Seasiders Division II status. The Quakers lost 5-4 to BYU-Hawaii last year, with Penn's losses in doubles the main reason for their downfall. But seeing as the Red and Blue have been on a roll in doubles matches lately, they may have greater success this year. "Last year, [BYU-Hawaii] had a couple of transfers from UCLA that were real tough. That school is for a lot of guys who weren't eligible for Division I but needed full rides," Sobotka said. "Hawaii, Pacific and BYU, they're kind of like N.C. State. Definitely beatable, but we're going to have to play well. Those are just coin-toss matches." Penn lost 5-2 to N.C. State on February 25, with freshman Ryan Harwood accounting for the only Penn win in the singles competitions . But despite the N.C. State loss, Sobotka is confident that if the Quakers stay focused, they can hand losses to all their opponents. "These [teams] are definitely not out of our league," Sobotka said. "We could conceivably go 5-0, and I'm hoping we will." The addition of two teams to Penn's Hawaii lineup is part of coach Gordie Ernst's strategy to expose his Quakers to tougher competition before the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis League season begins. Ernst believes that one of the reasons the Quakers recorded a dismal 2-7 EITL season last year was that they didn't challenge themselves enough in preseason competition. "Last year we won six or seven matches early in the season," Ernst said. "But come the Ivy season, we weren't as strong as we could have been. This year, I've beefed up the schedule, and hopefully it will help in the long run." When the Quakers return to Philadelphia with their tans, they will have 10 days to prepare for their first EITL match against Navy on March 29. "We're going to have a good time -- you always do in a climate like that," Sobotka said. "The objective is to go down there and win five matches and come back confident for the Ivy season."