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Koko gives sweet taste to next recruiting class

(11/04/98 10:00am)

Pasadena, California's Koko Archibong has verbally committed to playing basketball for Fran Dunphy next season. The Penn men's basketball team is currently preparing to win the Ivy League title this season, which begins in two weeks. This week, however, the Quakers received news that should help them remain near the top for the next four seasons. Koko Archibong, a 6'7" swingman from Polytechnic School in Pasadena, Calif., verbally committed to attending Penn this week. He is the second high school senior to verbally commit to the Red and Blue, joining point guard Dave Klatsky from Holmdel High in central New Jersey. Archibong and Klatsky, however, have not been officially accepted to the University. Until a player signs his letter of intent, the Penn coaches are prohibited from commenting on his status. Currently, Archibong is in his senior season at Polytechnic School. A four-year starter, Archibong was named to the All-Prep League second team as a sophomore. Last year, when he averaged 18 points per game, Archibong was named first team All-Prep, as well as honorable mention All-Area and team co-MVP. "We were really good my sophomore year," Polytechnic senior guard Matt Easterlin said. "We had a lot of good players that Koko played with. Then, Koko took over last year." Although Archibong's junior year drew some attention from college coaches, he was not heavily recruited during the season. "Penn was the first school to contact me by letter at the end of the season," Archibong said. It was after the season when Archibong made his name known. During the summer, he competed in the L.A. Rockfist League, a league Archibong says is composed of "95 percent L.A. city players," players who are receiving considerable attention from Division I teams. Archibong's reputation also grew, as he received word of interest from William & Mary, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Rice and Navy, among others. Archibong made official visits to Rice, Harvard, William & Mary and Penn, where he was hosted by Quakers junior guard Michael Jordan. "I liked Penn from the start, but I wanted to see the others too," Archibong said. In the end, however, Archibong's visit to Penn and a visit by coach Fran Dunphy to Pasadena convinced him to join the Quakers. "[Dunphy] thought I'd be an important part of the team and help the three position by adding a little size," Archibong said. Archibong -- along with current Penn freshman Dan Solomito -- should solidify the shooting guard and small forward position in coming years, once Jed Ryan and Matt Langel graduate. While Archibong may have his best moments on the basketball court, he is also a top student at the California prep school. "He is a really good student, so it's cool that he's going to an Ivy League school," Easterlin said. In the next few years, Quakers hoops fans may also find it cool that Archibong goes to their Ivy League school.

Sieflecki brightens outlook for Yale

(10/31/98 10:00am)

College football coaches dream about coaching at the No. 1 school in the nation. Yale coach Jack Siedlecki, however, is one of the few for whom this dream is actually a reality. No, the Elis didn't magically leap past Ohio State in the rankings. They didn't even surpass the Division I-AA leaders from Georgia Southern. What Yale University did do, however, was tie Harvard and Princeton for the top spot in U.S. News and World Report's annual college ranking. It is this ranking that makes Siedlecki feel right at home at a university more noted for Nobel Prizes than Heisman Trophies. "I've coached for 17 years at really good academic schools," Siedlecki said. "Our kids have other interests. They're going to challenge you." A quick glance at Siedlecki's coaching resume will reveal a list of teams where the star tailback's SAT score is usually significantly higher than his season rushing total. "[Yale's players] are going to be something way beyond football, but right now football is very important to them," Siedlecki said. Likewise, football has always been important to Siedlecki, who started attending daily high school football practices when he was five years old. Siedlecki didn't play yet, but instead he went to practice with his father, the head football coach at Johnstown (N.Y.) High School. Several years later Siedlecki made his own mark at Johnstown. While in high school, Siedlecki lettered in baseball and basketball in addition to football, where he played running back, linebacker and on special teams. While he excelled on the gridiron, baseball was actually Siedlecki's best sport and the one he thought gave him the best chance to play professionally. An arm injury suffered while pitching at Union College, however, ended his dreams of success on the diamond. When Siedlecki's college years at Union came to a close, it looked as if his athletic career had ended as well. Siedlecki had been around football since he was old enough to walk, but it looked as if his future was headed elsewhere. Siedlecki started working for Electronic Data Systems in the mid-1970s. EDS was a company in its early years under the direction of Ross Perot. While Perot made enough money to almost singlehandedly fund two presidential campaigns in the following decades, Jack Siedlecki thought he belonged elsewhere -- a place that he knew well and loved. In 1976, Jack Siedlecki returned to the football field. He took a job as a linebacker coach at Albany State, where he forged a relationship with another young coach, Albany State defensive coordinator and current Penn coach Al Bagnoli. Bagnoli and Siedlecki were roommates at this time and began a friendship that is still strong for the two current Ivy League coaches. "Coaching is early in the morning until late at night. You're together 15 or 16 hours a day," Bagnoli said. "He's a good guy, a lot of fun to be around, good sense of humor, just a quality guy." The days of Siedlecki and Bagnoli spending all day together are long past, but through the years, the coaches and their families have not lost touch. "Al and I have become good friends," Siedlecki said. "I went to his wedding. He went to mine." Siedlecki's wife, Nancy, has also become close with Bagnoli and his wife Maryellen. One summer, while Bagnoli was coaching at Union in the 1980s, he and his family invited the Siedleckis to their house for a cookout. Jack and Nancy returned the favor another summer, and the families have remained friendly since. "Our children are very close in age," Nancy said. "We've seen each other many times over the years at 40th birthday parties and other events." While Albany State offered Siedlecki a chance to begin his coaching career, he soon moved on. After a year at Wagner, Siedlecki joined the Lafayette staff, where he guided the Leopards defense for four seasons. Once again, Siedlecki found himself on the sidelines with another one of his future colleagues. This time, he coached on the same staff as current Harvard coach Tim Murphy. After a decade as an assistant coach, Siedlecki finally reached the top rung of the coaching ladder in 1988 when he secured the head job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. A four-year stint at WPI led to a position at Amherst. In four years at Amherst, Siedlecki turned around the Division III program, topping it off with a New England Small College Athletic Conference championship in 1996. By 1996, the year Perot was making his second bid for the presidency, Jack Siedlecki had also reached the position he hoped for when he left EDS in 1976. Siedlecki was a rising star in the world of college coaching. After legendary Elis coach Carm Cozza retired, Yale was looking for someone to turn around a program that had sunk to the bottom of the Ivy League pool. Yale looked to Jack Siedlecki. Siedlecki recalls an interview with six players who were part of the committee formed to find a new coach. The players asked Siedlecki why he wanted to come to Yale and not to Notre Dame or Rhode Island, two teams that also had coaching vacancies. "First of all, Notre Dame didn't call me. Rhode Island didn't call me," Siedlecki told the students. "I belong here or at a place like this. My experience is with this type of student athlete." Siedlecki's experience with bright student athletes has certainly been beneficial to the Elis. In his second season as head coach, Yale is 2-1 in the Ivy League, and its one loss was in a very close contest with Dartmouth. The Elis are currently locked in four-way tie for first place with Penn, Harvard and Princeton. "Whether he was at Lafayette or at Amherst or at WPI or at Yale, Jack enjoys those type of kids, because they can do a lot of things intellectually that he wants them to do," Bagnoli said. "He's a bright, creative guy, so he can do things and make his players adapt to it." Siedlecki's approach to coaching develops this thinking about football and instills a willingness to achieve success on the gridiron in his players. "[Jack] enjoys coaching down to the simplest part of working with the athletes," Yale defensive coordinator Rick Flanders said. "He still breaks down film like he's a GA [graduate assistant] at Albany State." Yale football is rising from the depths of being an Ivy League doormat. Jack Siedlecki has brought a new style and a new life to the Elis. He makes students at one of the nation's top universities use their intellect on the football field. The Elis will never have the talent to compete with Ohio State or Nebraska. But as long as Yale is at the top of the academic world, Jack Siedlecki will be at home.

Canadian nose guard achors Yale 'D'

(10/31/98 10:00am)

Corwynne Carruthers is an athlete from Canada who is now making his mark in the United States. Carruthers anchors the unit that will spend Saturday afternoon trying to stop Penn running back Jim Finn. The captain of the Yale football team and the Elis' starting nose guard, Carruthers will have his sights set on keeping the Ivy League's leading rusher under control. "Jim Finn -- he's a a big boy. He likes to pound it in there," Carruthers said. "We'll try to wrap him up, but he's a big dude." In last year's matchup at the Yale Bowl, Finn ran for 187 yards, but Carruthers and other members of the Yale defense have worked hard to prevent a repeat performance from Finn on Saturday. "About 15 of us stayed over the summer and worked with the strength coach," Carruthers said. Through these intense summer workouts, Carruthers has shaped his 6'2", 295-pound physique. He also believes that he is now more explosive and stronger coming off the line. Carruthers gives most of the credit for this improvement to Yale second-year defensive line coach and former Penn assistant Duane Brooks. "Duane Brooks made a world of difference," said Carruthers, who currently bench presses 480 pounds. "He's taught me so much about playing defensive line." Brooks is part of the staff hired by new Yale coach Jack Siedlecki in 1996. After the 1997 season, the new staff altered Yale tradition by not allowing the team to vote for next season's captain until spring practice. "[Siedlecki's] whole goal was to create more leaders on the team," Carruthers said. Carruthers received the most votes from his teammates and has emerged as the team leader on the defensive side of the ball. "[Carruthers] is the hardest working kid on the team," Siedlecki said. "He's helped us develop other leaders on the team. It's difficult for one guy to be the leader." While Carruthers' work ethic and leadership has inspired his teammates, his numbers may not impress many people. Although he has only made six solo tackles and recorded just one sack, Carruthers' play on the line has enabled other Yale defenders to make plays. "We want our nose guard to force doubles, so our linebackers will have more freedom to make tackles," Siedlecki said. This philosophy has worked for the Elis so far this season, as linebackers Peter Mazza and Scott Benton are on pace to surpass their tackle totals from last season by far. Mazza only had 39 tackles last year, but now leads the team with 56 and is on pace for 93 this season. Carruthers is a big reason for Yale's improvement from last season, and he believes that the football he played in high school in Toronto prepared him well for the Ivy League. Although Canadian football features some differences, like a 110-yard field, 12 players on each side and only three downs, the basic idea is still the same. "You still have to line up and hit somebody," Carruthers said. The Canadian brand of football may be similar to its American counterpart, but according to Carruthers, the school system is not quite the same. Although the Yale football program showed interest in Carruthers when he was at Crestwood Secondary School, he did not get accepted to Yale after his senior year. "The grading system in Canada is a little different, so it got messed up in the transfer," Carruthers said. Since he could not play in New Haven immediately, Carruthers attended the Kent School, a prep school in Connecticut. While his grades were similar to the ones he received in high school, Carruthers thinks that Yale was more likely to trust grades from a school in the United States. Nevertheless, his time at the Kent School allowed Carruthers to gain an extra year of football experience that he believes has helped him in his career at Yale. Currently, he is concentrating on the Ivy League title race, which has both Yale and Penn sitting atop the standings. Carruthers will be looking to keep Yale at the top by punishing Jim Finn and friends at Franklin Field.

Canadian nose tackle leads Elis to Philly

(10/29/98 10:00am)

Corwynne Carruthers will be breathing down Matt Rader's neck. Corwynne Carruthers is an athlete from Canada who is now making his mark in the United States. Carruthers anchors the unit that will spend Saturday afternoon trying to stop Penn running back Jim Finn. The captain of the Yale football team and the Elis' starting nose guard, Carruthers will have his sights set on keeping the Ivy League's leading rusher under control. "Jim Finn -- he's a a big boy. He likes to pound it in there," Carruthers said. "We'll try to wrap him up, but he's a big dude." In last year's matchup at the Yale Bowl, Finn ran for 187 yards, but Carruthers and other members of the Yale defense have worked hard to prevent a repeat performance from Finn on Saturday. "About 15 of us stayed over the summer and worked with the strength coach," Carruthers said. Through these intense summer workouts, Carruthers has shaped his 6'2", 295-pound physique. He also believes that he is now more explosive and stronger coming off the line. Carruthers gives most of the credit for this improvement to Yale second-year defensive line coach and former Penn assistant Duane Brooks. "Duane Brooks made a world of difference," said Carruthers, who currently bench presses 480 pounds. "He's taught me so much about playing defensive line." Brooks is part of the staff hired by new Yale coach Jack Siedlecki in 1996. After the 1997 season, the new staff altered Yale tradition by not allowing the team to vote for next season's captain until spring practice. "[Siedlecki's] whole goal was to create more leaders on the team," Carruthers said. Carruthers received the most votes from his teammates and has emerged as the team leader on the defensive side of the ball. "[Carruthers] is the hardest working kid on the team," Siedlecki said. "He's helped us develop other leaders on the team. It's difficult for one guy to be the leader." While Carruthers' work ethic and leadership has inspired his teammates, his numbers may not impress many people. Although he has only made six solo tackles and recorded just one sack, Carruthers' play on the line has enabled other Yale defenders to make plays. "We want our nose guard to force doubles, so our linebackers will have more freedom to make tackles," Siedlecki said. This philosophy has worked for the Elis so far this season, as linebackers Peter Mazza and Scott Benton are on pace to surpass their tackle totals from last season by far. Mazza only had 39 tackles last year, but now leads the team with 56 and is on pace for 93 this season. Carruthers is a big reason for Yale's improvement from last season, and he believes that the football he played in high school in Toronto prepared him well for the Ivy League. Although Canadian football features some differences, like a 110-yard field, 12 players on each side and only three downs, the basic idea is still the same. "You still have to line up and hit somebody," Carruthers said. The Canadian brand of football may be similar to its American counterpart, but according to Carruthers, the school system is not quite the same. Although the Yale football program showed interest in Carruthers when he was at Crestwood Secondary School, he did not get accepted to Yale after his senior year. "The grading system in Canada is a little different, so it got messed up in the transfer," Carruthers said. Since he could not play in New Haven immediately, Carruthers attended the Kent School, a prep school in Connecticut. While his grades were similar to the ones he received in high school, Carruthers thinks that Yale was more likely to trust grades from a school in the United States. Nevertheless, his time at the Kent School allowed Carruthers to gain an extra year of football experience that he believes has helped him in his career at Yale. Currently, he is concentrating on the Ivy League title race, which has both Yale and Penn sitting atop the standings. Carruthers will be looking to keep Yale at the top by punishing Jim Finn and friends at Franklin Field.

No longer identical

(10/14/98 9:00am)

Aviva Meerschwam left her family in the Netherlands first, then decided to leave her twin sister Melanie behind at Princeton to play for the Quakers. Penn field hockey player Aviva Meerschwam is an identical twin, but for the first time in her life, she is proving that she is an identical twin with her own identity. A native of Amstelveen, Netherlands, Meerschwam transferred to Penn this year. One year earlier, Meerschwam and her sister, Melanie, decided that Princeton was the school for both of them. For Aviva, though, Old Nassau was not the right place. After spending her entire life with her sister, Aviva decided she needed a change. In order to branch out on her own, Aviva left Princeton -- an NCAA final four team last year -- and came to Penn, another school she considered when applying to colleges. "I think Aviva liked Penn and Philly to start with, and I think she wanted her own identity," Penn field hockey coach Val Cloud said. For many students, the college years are when they start to live on their own. Although she left her family in the Netherlands, Aviva felt she could develop better away from her sister. "My sister and I always had the same friends, and we were always together on the field hockey team for three hours a day," Aviva said. "I thought it would be better for us to split up." Melanie Meerschwam said she agreed with her sister's decision, noting that Aviva's transferring has helped both of them. "We had always wondered how it would be to live apart," Melanie said. "It was a really good decision. I was totally supportive." Adjusting to a new school can be difficult for transfer students, but Aviva has had to adjust in more ways than one during the past two years. She is currently at her second Ivy League university in as many years. As if that is not enough, she is still new to the United States, and her brand of field hockey is not quite the same as the rest of Val Cloud's squad at Franklin Field. In the Netherlands and other European nations, field hockey players start at a younger age and learn a finesse-oriented game, which Aviva describes as "the opposite of what is good here." Aviva and Melanie grew up playing a game that emphasized passing and stick skills. In the United States, they must learn a game that features "more running with no thinking," according to Aviva. Aviva's move to the other side of the Delaware River has only compounded the adjustment. "[Aviva and I] both have a different style," Melanie said. "Now, I am the only one [at Princeton] with a different style, so I must adjust." The change to the American style of field hockey is a necessity for the twins, but unlearning something they have done for most of their lives can be quite a task. "Now that I am here in America, I must learn this game," Aviva said. "I am trying to do my best." Aviva is a sophomore, and still has time to develop as a field hockey player in the United States. But that does not mean she isn't seeing significant playing time this fall. Cloud is working Aviva into the Quakers' midfield, playing her alongside Cindy Quinn, Leah Bills and captain Maureen Flynn. "[Aviva] has played very well," Cloud said. "We've got a great midfield rotation with the four of them." While Aviva may be looking to the future of her field hockey career and her life at Penn, she has not lost touch with her past. Aviva and Melanie speak on the phone every night, and the relative closeness of Penn and Princeton has allowed them to see each other several times. "We would like to see each other more often," Melanie said of her sister, who is also her best friend. "We have seen each other four times, but not in the last two weeks." Seeing each other four times in almost two months is a stark contrast to the time when the twins spent all day together. The schedule, however, will be kind enough to allow them to spend one weekend together in the near future. That will occur when the Penn field hockey team travels to Princeton on November 6 to face the defending Ivy champs and Melanie Meerschwam, currently the leading scorer in the Ivy League with 15 points. This contest will serve as more than just a tune-up for Princeton as it gets ready to enter the NCAAs. It will be the first time in their lives that Aviva and Melanie will not be on the same side of the ball. "It will be pretty odd," Aviva said. "But by then, I will have enough experience with this team, so it will be fine." No matter who wins, when the Meerschwam sisters step on the field wearing different uniforms, it will finally show that each of the identical twins has an identity all her own.

Big George hangs up high tops

(10/13/98 9:00am)

Senior forward George Mboya has chosen not to play for the Penn men's basketball team this season. On March 3 of last basketball season the Palestra was packed, the crowd was screaming and excitement echoed throughout the arena as the Quakers took the nationally ranked Princeton Tigers to overtime before falling to the Ivy champs. Memories of that night has the returning Penn hoops players jumping at the chance to dethrone the Orange and Black and reclaim the Ivy title this season. The Quakers, however, will have to do it one man short. When the Quakers begin their trek that they hope will end in the NCAA tournament, George Mboya will not be along for the ride. Mboya has chosen not to play basketball during his senior year, deciding that he should concentrate on his studies. Although Mboya could not be reached for comment, his former teammates and Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy respect his decision and say they have parted with Mboya on good terms. "I respect George greatly," Dunphy said. "While I am disappointed, I will support George in whatever he wants to do." Although it may surprise some people that a basketball player would quit before his final season, Mboya's decision was well thought out, according to his teammates. "George talked to everyone on the team," senior forward Jed Ryan said. "He evaluated himself, he spoke with his family, he spoke with his extended family -- the team, then he went to the coaching staff. It wasn't an isolated incident." Mboya had much time to think about his situation this summer while the Quakers toured Italy and scrimmaged professional teams. Unlike the pressure-filled season during the school year, the summer trip allowed the Penn players to talk about and concentrate on things not related to competition. "In Italy, we didn't talk much about basketball," Ryan said. "[George] talked about other things -- jobs and what the future held for him." What the future holds for Mboya is the possibility of graduating after first semester and entering the workforce. Had he continued to play basketball, it is unlikely the fifth-year senior could have completed his degree in the College before May. While Mboya may spend more time facing job interviewers than power forwards this year, the remaining Quakers will be enduring grueling practices at the Palestra, preparing to fight for Penn's first Ivy championship since 1995. The inside defense of the 6'6" Mboya could have been helpful to this cause. "Would George have seen playing time? Absolutely," Dunphy said. "How much time would depend on how well the other players were playing and how well George was playing." With the return of forwards Ryan and Paul Romanczuk and that of center Geoff Owens, Mboya would not have been a featured front court player. However, his defensive skills, which were on full display in the Princeton thriller last year, would have gotten him off the bench. His presence on the floor, though, may not be the aspect his teammates will miss most. Mboya, who only scored 2.3 points per game last season, made his presence known the most in informal settings. "We'll miss George. He brings a lot to the team -- he's a good guy," guard Michael Jordan said. "He's still a friend of ours," guard Matt Langel added. "We still see George around." The Quakers may run into Mboya on Locust Walk, but they will not see him at practice, in the locker room or in the weight room. And, unlike last season, the Red and Blue faithful will not get the chance to cheer the sight of Mboya coming off the bench.

Rugby - not just a brawl

(10/07/98 9:00am)

People may not know it yet, but Penn's club rugby team is climbing in the national ranks. In the near future, construction will begin on Murphy Field to make a new home for the Penn baseball team. Maybe the Penn men's rugby club wants to help with this project, because lately, they have been tearing up Murphy Field. Last Saturday, Penn defeated West Chester, 15-10. This triumph rounded out a perfect regular season and clinched a playoff berth for Penn, who also beat Swarthmore and Millersville. Although these wins were all against schools much smaller than Penn, they were against excellent rugby teams. On Saturday, when Penn beat West Chester, it not only disposed of one of the better teams in the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union, but it sent the No. 13 team in the nation home with a loss. In the past, victories over Swarthmore, Millersville and West Chester -- the three teams that make up the Green Division of the EPRU with Penn -- were not easy to come by. "This is the best team I've played on since I've been here," Penn junior captain Mike Slocum said. Slocum's view of his team perhaps rang true the loudest on September 19, when Penn destroyed Swarthmore, 51-10. "We generally tend to beat Swarthmore, but by no means is it a blow-out," Slocum said. A blow-out, however, is exactly what it was. Rugby players score points by grounding the ball in the in-goal area, a move called a "try" that is worth five points. While a try -- which is similar to a touchdown in football -- garners a team the most points, teams may also score on kicking plays. Whatever way they were earned, points just piled up for Penn against Swarthmore. Penn, however, could not get too excited about this first win because Millersville was the next name on the schedule. "We made the playoffs in my sophomore year, but we got killed by Millersville," Penn senior Rob Fuller said. Although Penn did not rout Millersville, it did leave Murphy Field with its undefeated record intact. Penn won the game, 19-7, but it was not actually that close. While Penn used finesse and athleticism to down their division foes, Millersville kept the score close with their brute strength. "Millersville is mostly just size and meat-headedness," Slocum said. Even the opposing players were impressed by the way Penn handled itself during the game. "I thought our team was pretty good," Millersville's Anthony Iacovelli said. "Although the score was close, Penn played better than we did." With two wins under its belt and a chance to win the division within sight, Penn looked to the matchup with West Chester, a team which has posed problems for them in the past. When the dust had settled on Saturday, Penn was on the winning side, earning the right to play in next weekend's EPRU playoffs. Tries by juniors Alex Snyder and Alex Robinson, along with five kicking points by Argentinian transfer student Marcelo Grignani, were enough to put Penn in a position it has not been in for a long time. The playoffs are not a new experience for Penn, but the bitter taste of the playoff loss to Millersville two years ago still lingers for the juniors and seniors. The chances of Penn getting killed next weekend, though, are quite slim. By winning the division, it has clinched home field advantage in the first game, and, if the playoff schedule works out for Penn, it may be able to leave the team bus parked in West Philly for most of the playoffs. The reason for Penn's improvement over the past few years is mainly a result of its players becoming more experienced. Most players try out for the rugby team during their freshman year and have absolutely no experience. Many are converted football or soccer players. Currently, upperclassmen, who have become more familiar with the game, make up the majority of the team, allowing Penn to move to the head of the EPRU class. While collegiate experience is helpful, most Penn players are still new to the sport. But not all of them. New transfer students from Argentina and France have given Penn a boost to a level where other Ivy League teams already find themselves. Penn finished seventh in last spring's Ivy League tournament, losing to teams that featured international players who have spent their whole lives playing rugby. "It would be like [an American] going to Europe to play football," said Snyder, who is the president of the rugby club. "They have added a different style and taken us to a higher level," Fuller said. "We used to be a smashmouth, run-the-ball-up-the-gut kind of team. Now we are more creative." Creativity has allowed Penn to win games by a total of 69 points, the highest point differential among the 16 teams in the EPRU. This stat will come in handy, since it is the tiebreaker for determining playoff seeds. If Penn makes the finals of the EPRU playoffs, it will qualify for the national tournament in the spring season. If not, it must be content to play in the Ivy and City 6 tournaments. The City 6 features La Salle, Villanova, Temple, St. Joe's and Drexel. Penn took third last spring. Earning a trip to the national tournament, however, remains the team's focus. "We can't think too highly of ourselves, but we should do well," club secretary Joe Mira said. If they do well, they may not be the only ones who will think highly of the Penn rugby team.

Football welcomes Biscon stampede

(10/02/98 9:00am)

The Penn football team is seeking revenge tomorrow at home for a difficult loss to the Bucknell Bison last season. Last Saturday, with nearly 10 minutes remaining in the Penn football team's matchup with Richmond, the stands began to empty. Apparently, fans had seen enough of Richmond's domination of their Quakers. If recent history is an indication of the future, do not expect the same at this weekend's Bucknell game. For the past three years, the Penn-Bucknell matchup has been one of the most exciting of the season, with the game usually coming down to the wire. Last season, the Bison squeaked out a 20-16 win after a go-ahead touchdown for Penn was called back on an illegal motion penalty. In 1996, Penn won 30-21 in overtime, at the time a record for margin of victory in overtime. And three years ago, Jeremiah Greathouse kicked a 41-yard field goal with 27 seconds left to lift Penn to 20-19 victory. If the Red and Blue (1-1) find themselves on the winning end Saturday, it might be due to the resurgence of running back Jim Finn. "We hope to reestablish [the rushing attack]," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "Last week we had trouble with Richmond's defensive line, specifically Marc Megna, who is a terrific player." After carrying Penn past Dartmouth in week one with 151 rushing yards, Finn only accumulated 33 yards and fumbled three times against the Spiders. Although the Bison (3-1) do not feature a player like Megna -- a Division I-AA All-American selection -- on the defensive line, Finn should find a few roadblocks when trying to gain yardage. Bucknell is holding opponents to 77 rushing yards per game and only allowed eight yards on the ground to Duquense on September 5. Since gaining 100 yards on the ground will be no easy task for Finn, the Quakers are planning a balanced offensive attack for Saturday. This includes passing to the tight ends, who have been virtually nonexistent the last two weeks. "[Quarterback] Matt [Rader] is going to spread the ball around, so the [Bucknell] defense can't key in on any one person," said junior Doug O'Neill, Penn's leading receiver with 11 catches for 158 yards. While the Penn offense plans on spreading the ball around, the Quakers defense -- which is currently ranked third in Division I-AA -- expects the same from Bucknell. While the Bison have a top receiver in senior Ron Rockett, they also have a good rushing game. Tailback Dan Palko is averaging over five yards per carry. This balanced attack will prevent the Red and Blue from focusing on Rockett, who is seventh on Bucknell's all-time receiving list with 1,329 yards. "The defensive line and the linebackers have been doing a good job against the run, so it's not a great concern," Penn safety Bruce Rossignol said. "But if they do break into the secondary, we have to be able to make the tackle." Getting to the ball carrier, however, should not be too difficult for the Penn defensive line. The Quakers, who allowed Richmond's TyRonne Turner to run for 110 yards, feel comfortable facing the Bucknell offensive line. "I think we'll match up pretty well," Penn nose guard Adrian Puzio said. "A lot of us are returning against the same line we faced last year." The offense and defense both hope to improve on last week's performance, but it is the special teams unit that needs the most work. Richmond punt returner Winston October returned six punts for 89 yards, consistently giving the Spiders good field position. "We hope it improves," Bagnoli said. "Last week, we got exploited by a pretty good athlete on punt returns." Penn first faced Bucknell in 1895 when the Quakers slaughtered them, 40-0, at Franklin Field. Saturday's game will be the 27th between the two. The Red and Blue hold a 22-4 series lead and have typically won by several touchdowns. The way things have been going the last few years, however, Saturday could be one of the most exciting games of the year.

GAME ANALYSIS: Finn carries Football to first Ivy win over Big Green

(09/21/98 9:00am)

HANOVER, N.H. -- As the final seconds ticked off the game clock in Penn's 17-14 victory over Dartmouth on Saturday, players were exhausted after battling for three hours at Dartmouth's Memorial Field. Few, if any, of these players, however, battled as hard as Penn running back Jim Finn. When the game was finished, Finn had amassed 151 yards rushing. This yardage, when combined with his 10 receiving yards, accounted for over half of the Quakers' total offense on Saturday. "We decided we were going to put the game in Matt Rader's hands, put the ball in Jim Finn's hands," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "That's what we tried to do. We have some kids who can make some plays." While Rader -- who completed 17-of-28 pass attempts for 161 yards -- did his part in contributing to the Quakers' win, it was Finn who not only carried the ball, but also carried the entire Penn offense. In a match-up of the two most successful Ivy teams of the 1990s, Finn carried the ball 41 times, the most since he became a full-time tailback last season. Previously, the most carries Finn had in one game was 33 when he ran for 146 yards in a 20-17 victory over Princeton on Homecoming Weekend last year. On Saturday, Finn approached the Penn single-game record of 45 rushing attempts by Jasen Scott in 1993. On Penn's first drive of the afternoon, Rader led the offense down the field and into the endzone in seven plays. Five of those seven were hand-offs to Finn, who scored the Red and Blue's first touchdown of the day by busting through the line and running over some Big Green linebackers on his way to six points. The workload did not get any easier for Finn as the day wore on. On Penn's next series, four of the eight plays were designed for him. By the end of the first quarter, Finn had already rushed for 41 yards. Finn did not get much of a chance to rest in the second quarter either, and he entered the locker room at halftime with 74 rushing yards. After Penn totally dominated the first half, the Big Green came out firing in the second half and jumped out to their first lead of the game. This is when the Quakers really needed to rely on Finn. As Penn marched down the field at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter, the offense ran 15 plays. Finn rushed on nine of these plays and also caught a pass. "The only time [fatigue] really got to me was on that long drive when we took the lead," Finn said. "We ran the ball how many times on that drive. That really got to me." With the Quakers on Dartmouth's one-yard line on third down, Rader dove for the endzone, but was rejected by Big Green linebacker Steve Varney. On fourth down, with the Quakers only inches from the endzone, Penn once again turned to Finn, who crossed the goal line for his second touchdown. "It felt longer than six inches," Finn said. As the wear and tear of being his team's main offensive weapon set in, Finn began to feel the fatigue. On Penn's final possession of the day, the Quakers looked to Finn again. This time, however, he could not deliver as he was denied at the line of scrimmage on a third-and-one play. Penn was forced to punt. "I really thought I was a couple yards downfield," Finn said. "I didn't know I was stopped at the line of scrimmage." Earlier in the game, Finn would have probably gotten the first down. After three hours of grueling ball-carrying, however, even 240-pound iron men like Jim Finn are bound to be weakened. As the season progresses, Finn will continue to be Penn's major weapon. If he continues to get over 40 carries each week, though, he may run himself into the ground. Finn carried Penn to its first victory this year, and Al Bagnoli's play-calling made it clear that the Quakers expect Finn to carry them through the entire season.


(09/18/98 9:00am)

33-0. Every Penn football fan remembers this score from a year ago, when a superior Harvard team embarrassed the Quakers in a game that had Ivy title implications. Harvard stampeded through the rest of the Ivy season with relative ease on its way to an undefeated, undisputed Ivy League championship season. The Crimson are just as ready to defend that title this season as the other seven league teams are willing to take it away from them. The Red and Blue are one of the leaders of the pack snapping at the heels of Harvard. The Quakers want to rekindle the championship feeling of 1994, but to do that, they must first contend with their Ancient Eight opponents. · Harvard enters the '98 campaign the same way it exited the '97 one, viewed as the best team in the Ivies. The Crimson are predicted to finish first in almost every preseason poll. Returning to their lofty position at the top, however, will be no cakewalk for the defending champs. "We've had a solid camp, but quite frankly, we have more question marks and concerns than a year before," Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. "Obviously, we are not as experienced as last year. We lost three All-Ivy and four four-year starters. Our defense is going to be good, but last year, quite frankly, we were dominating." The defensive line was hardest hit by graduation, but all of Harvard's starting linebackers will be back this season, including 1996 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Isaiah Kacyvenski. Second team All-Ivy quarterback Rich Linden will be back in the pocket this year, leading a potent offense that also returns defending Ivy rushing champ Chris Menick and wide receiver Terence Patterson, the Crimson's top pass catcher from a year ago. Harvard averaged 30.1 points per game last season, and with such a strong returning group, Harvard players should find the endzone quite frequently this season. · Harvard may rack up some points this season, but the league's best offense will be in Providence, R.I. Brown returns 10 starters to an offense that tallied 475.3 yards per contest last fall, the best offensive output in the league. Two of these returning starters should connect for many scores. Both first team All-Ivy performers, quarterback James Perry and wide receiver Sean Morey should form a dangerous duo in a superb aerial attack for the Bears. Last season, Morey dazzled football fans across the country. An All-American selection and Ivy League Player of the Year, he scored a league-record 15 TDs and led Division I-AA with 1,434 receiving yards. The Bears will score a lot of points this fall, but their opponents may score just as many. Last year, the Bears finished in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories, and only five starters return this season. Every one of Brown's games could be a high-scoring affair. The Bears' own mediocre defense may be the hardest obstacle for them to overcome. · If 1998 shapes up like the previous 10 years, expect Dartmouth to be near the top of the standings. The most consistent team in the Ancient Eight over the past decade, Dartmouth finished 6-1 last year and has always posed a threat to Ivy opponents. The reason for the Big Green's consistency has always been its defense. This year, however, the defense is a huge question mark for Dartmouth. With only four returning starters, Ivy teams may find the endzone more easily against this inexperienced lineup. Linebacker Jon Gibbs, who earned second team All-Ivy honors, was the team's top tackler last year and will anchor the squad. But with so few experienced players, Dartmouth will need the youngsters to perform at a high level. Another huge question is who will start at quarterback. Senior Mike Coffey, who only threw one pass in 1997, is the favorite and the only candidate with collegiate experience. Tailback Dylan Karczewski, who led the Green with 541 rushing yards last fall, is the only significant contributor to return on offense, as top receiver Zach Ellis was lost to graduation. · Last season, Ivy opponents walked all over Yale. If these same teams think a trip to the Yale Bowl equals an automatic victory this year, however, they might want to think again. As coach Jack Siedlecki returns for his second season, he returns to a much more experienced team. Quarterback Joe Walland will return after injuring his knee last season, as will running back Jabbar Craigwell, who missed all of 1997 with a wrist injury. The Elis' receiving corps should also improve with Jake Borden and Ben Johnstone returning. Although only one starter returns on the defensive line, the Elis have also improved on defense. Linebacker Scott Benton, Yale's top tackler last season, and defensive back Todd Tomich, the defending Ivy League Rookie of the Year, will be the leaders of this more experienced squad. · The road warriors have gone home. After spending all of last season on the road, Princeton comes back to Old Nassau and a brand new house. Princeton Stadium will be a source of excitement for the Orange and Black, but that excitement is not likely to vault them to the top of the standings. "I think the anticipated completion of our new stadium has brought everyone to life," Tigers coach Steve Tosches said. That may be good news for the Tigers, who ranked near the bottom in almost every offensive category and scored only 13 touchdowns all season. For the fifth time in six years, a new player will be taking snaps from center, as senior John Burnham will replace the graduated Harry Nakielny at quarterback. Princeton's defense, which ranked first in the Ivies last year, was also hit by graduation. Tackle David Ferrara is expected to lead the weakened defense after being named second team All-Ivy as a sophomore last season. · For Cornell, the biggest question is whether or not new head coach Peter Mangurian's wealth of football experience will move the Big Red towards the top of the Ivy standings. After spending 10 years as an NFL assistant coach under Dan Reeves, Mangurian returns to the collegiate level for his first head coaching job. Prior to his NFL days, Mangurian spent nine years as a college assistant at various schools. "You always want to be better in certain spots, certain positions, certain situations," Mangurian said. "We have a pretty good feel of what kind of football team we are." The passing game is one of those spots where Cornell will have the most need. After losing wide receiver Eric Krawczyk and running back Brad Kiesendahl to graduation, the Big Red will rely on less experienced players to move the ball downfield. QB Mike Hood will see more time this season, stepping into the starting role after sharing it with Scott Carroll last year. The defense should be better in 1998 after a '97 season which saw the Big Red surrender 26.1 points per game. John Hanson and Jorge Alvarez will lead a tough linebacking corps. Cornell will also return three starters on the defensive line and cornerback Tom Nunes, the team leader in interceptions with four last fall. · For each of the past four years, the team that returned the most defensive starters has won the league title. Expect that trend to end this season. Columbia returns nine starters to a defense that yielded 392.0 yards per game last season, by far the worst in the Ivies. Columbia's offense should be better this year after a subpar '97 campaign. Tailbacks John Toye and Jason Bivens both return from injury and should help the Lions' running game. Tight end Bert Bondi will also return after earning All-Ivy honors last season, catching 39 passes for 516 yards. These improvements, however, will probably not be enough to keep the Lions out of the Ivy basement.

X-Country to work on team race at Delaware

(09/17/98 9:00am)

In almost every sport, the concept of team is crucial. Just as teammates must work together in basketball and soccer, the same is true for cross country. As both the Penn men's and women's cross country teams prepare to head to the Delaware Invitational on Saturday, the coaches are stressing the importance of working as a team. "We're going for a good, solid team race," men's cross country coach Charlie Powell said. "We're looking for our top five or six guys to show a lot." The leader of this group is junior Sean MacMillan. Last weekend, MacMillan placed second overall at the Navy Quadrangle in 25:25. Possessing the same mindset as his coach, MacMillan will look to run a smart team race before concentrating on his individual performance. "For the first three miles, we're going to try to run together with the leaders," MacMillan said. "After three miles, whoever has enough left will go." MacMillan will probably be one of those runners, and he should finish among the race leaders. Other Penn runners who are expected to place include Bryan Kovalsky, Scott Clayton, Jason Greene and Matt Gioffre. Gioffre, a freshman, finished sixth at Navy last weekend, and Powell believes he has a bright future with the Quakers. "He's one of the most talented freshmen around," Powell said. "He's a super kid with super talent." Talented freshman cross country runners seem to be in abundance this year, as three freshmen finished in the top five for the Penn women's team last weekend. Running at the Lafayette Invitational, first-year runners Susie Cook, Meghan Curran and Kelly Saladino each scored for the Red and Blue. Despite the performance of the freshmen and the fifth-place finish of team captain Rita Garber, Penn women's assistant coach Tony Tenisci would like the runners to work more as a team. "We'd like to see the pack be a little tighter. We need a strong performance as a unit, not so much as individuals," Tenisci said. Tenisci believes the Delaware Invitational -- which will also host Columbia, Richmond, Towson State and East Stroudsburg, among other schools -- will give the runners a chance to work on running as a group before the more important meets later in the season. "September is a growing month. We use it as a learning tool," Tenisci said. "We have to come together collectively as a team." Another goal that Tenisci would like to see his team accomplish is to have more runners, especially returning upperclassmen, finish closer to Garber. "The thing is that everyone has to be on, and that doesn't happen too often in cross country," Garber said. For both teams, having everyone perform at a high level this weekend is important. Although the season is still young, the competition can be fierce. "I know Columbia will be going in and looking to pounce on us," Powell said. MacMillan has faced and beaten several of Columbia's runners in the steeplechase during track season. He also believes that individuals from Delaware may pose a threat. Members of both Penn teams hope to stay with the top runners from other schools for most of the race. More importantly, though, they hope to stay with each other.

Ortman leads crew of returnees to Spring Football

(09/17/98 9:00am)

Penn coach Bill Wagner welcomes 35 letterwinners from last year's team back to the '98 squad. Tim Ortman recently decided that he did not want to stay with the Penn varsity football team. Most teams in the Eastern Sprint Football League (ESFL) probably wished he hadn't. The idea of Ortman crashing through their defenses on his way to the endzone is an experience most opposing teams would rather not relive. Unfortunately for them, Ortman thinks he belongs on the sprint -- formerly lightweight -- football level, where he should once again tear up the competition. Running back Ortman will be a key component in Penn coach Bill Wagner's '98 squad that will try to improve on last year's 3-3 record. Last season, Ortman was named to the All-Eastern Lightweight Football first team after he led the league with a single-season school record 977 rushing yards. In Penn's second game last year, a 15-0 dumping of Princeton, Ortman gained 226 yards on the ground, outpacing the entire Princeton offense by 96 yards. After a brief stint with the varsity squad in preseason practices, Ortman went back to the sprint football team. He will not be the only returning member to a squad that hopes to bring home its second league championship in three years. The Red and Blue welcome back 16 starters and 35 letterwinners from last year's team. With such an experienced and deep lineup, the Quakers should have a legitimate chance to regain the ESFL title which eluded them last year. John Kernan will return for his second year at quarterback for the Quakers. Last year, Kernan won the starting job as a freshman. He passed for 262 yards and one touchdown in six games. The passing game should be improved over last season, as Penn returns seven wide receivers who caught at least one pass in 1997. Tight end Scott Moore, a second team All-ELFL selection last season, led the Red and Blue with 11 receptions for 139 yards. The offensive line should also be solid with four returning starters. First team All-ELFL center Marc Menkowitz is the only loss to graduation on the line, but Wagner has several linemen ready to fill the open position. Despite losing four all-conference players, the Penn defense should be strong as well. The loss of tackles Jordan Matusow and Kwesi Edwards may weaken the defensive line, but captain Carter Byrnes, another all-conference performer, will return. The linebackers should be able to eat opposing offenses for lunch this season, returning all three starters. David Klein was named second team All-ELFL, while Michael Vinay and Chris Graham both received honorable mention. The defensive backfield may be the weakest part of Penn's defense. After losing Mario Malcolm and Justin Rogers -- the team leaders in interceptions last fall with two apiece -- the Quakers will look to players like Kevin Lotman to keep opposing receivers in check. Like the offense and defense, special teams will be more experienced this season with the return of punter Scott Moore and kicker Zachary Shinar. Experience is the defining quality of this sprint football squad. After a disappointing '97 season, the Quakers will look to bring some hardware back to Franklin Field in '98. This season, the Penn defense should smash offensive drives, Quakers receivers will find the endzone a lot and special teams could be dangerous. And by November, ESFL teams may be cursing the day Tim Ortman decided to come back.

Princeton expected to win Ivy League

(09/15/98 9:00am)

For a glimpse of what true domination is, one needs to look no further than the Ivy League field hockey standings. Princeton owns this league. The Tigers, however, will not be the only team that will pose a threat to Penn this season. After playing some of the best teams in the world in England this summer, the Quakers return to these familiar foes of the Ivy League. · Princeton will most likely finish the '98 season the same way it has finished the past few years, as undefeated league champs. Returning six members of the All-Ivy first team -- including unanimous Player of the Year Amy MacFarlane -- the Orange and Black should cruise through the Ivy schedule with ease. Last year, Penn was the only league team to score twice in a game against Princeton. In fact, only three Ivy teams could find the back of the net against the Tigers, as they only surrendered four goals in league play. League play, however, was just a warm-up for Princeton, which finished the regular season ranked eighth in the nation. The Tigers went on to the national final, where they lost to North Carolina 3-0. · Dartmouth should also turn out to be a challenging opponent for the Quakers. Last season, Penn took the second place Big Green to overtime before succumbing by a 4-3 score. This season, the Green will look to Lauren Scopaz to lead the team. Coming off a freshman year in which she finished fourth in the league in scoring and was named first team All-Ivy, Scopaz should continue to rack up the goals in her second year. · Cornell tied Dartmouth for second place last season and should once again finish near the top of the standings. Although the Big Red will lose the services of all-time leading scorer Cari Hills, several players will return to the squad and keep them in the hunt for second place. · Yale comes to Franklin Field at the end of October. Perhaps they should start this game extra early if they want it to end before November. Last year's game between the Quakers and the Elis went four overtimes before Yale finally won on penalty shots. Lindsay Hobbs, a second team All-Ivy selection, will be the Elis' top scoring threat after netting nine goals last year. · Harvard should improve on last season's 3-4 record, which tied them with Penn and Yale for fourth place. Last season, Harvard squeaked by the Red and Blue with a 2-1 victory. When the Quakers and Crimson meet this season, the outcome should be another close decision. Katie Schoolwerth and Judy Collins will lead Harvard after being named first team All-Ivy last season. · Brown should not present much of a problem to league opponents this year. After posting a 2-5 Ivy League record in 1997, the Bears will probably once again finish near the bottom of the standings. Lucia Duncan and Kim Rogers are Brown's only returning All-Ivy players. · Columbia is not at the same level as the rest of the Ivy teams. Just as Princeton is so much better than the others, the Lions are so much weaker. Entering only its second season of Division I competition, Columbia may not win a game against Ivy foes this fall. After a season in which Columbia surrendered 41 league goals, it looks as though the Lions' goalkeeper will be a very busy person.

Wrestling looks to reload program for post-Slay era

(09/09/98 9:00am)

How does a nationally-ranked college sports program replace an All-American athlete? With another one, of course. While former Penn star Brandon Slay has moved to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center to prepare for the 2000 Games, Penn coach Roger Reina welcomes a recruiting class that features an All-American of its own. Kevin Rucci, who wrestled to a 128-4 record at Eastern High School in Voorhees, N.J., recently earned All-American honors at the Junior National Championships and is a candidate for a spot on the Penn varsity squad at the 125-pound weight class. Sophomore Justin Bravo and senior Randall Braunfield, however, will challenge Rucci for the spot. "Kevin should compete for a starting spot," Reina said. "But we probably won't determine our starting lineup until November." Regarded as one of the nation's top recruits from the class of 1998, Rucci finished as a state runner-up in both his freshman and sophomore years of high school. As a junior, he finally captured the state title. During his senior year, Rucci was ranked first in the state and was undefeated entering the state tournament. Before he had the chance to defend his title, however, he ripped a back muscle and could not compete in the tournament. Despite not being able to wrestle at states, Rucci was back in top form later in the season. Competing in the 109-pound weight class at the Junior National tournament, Rucci roared through his first few matches to find himself in a position to qualify for the national final. Rucci jumped out to an early lead in the deciding match, but his opponent, Bo Maynes, came from behind to grab the win. Rucci battled back through the bracket to finish sixth at the tournament, earning All-American honors by placing in the top eight. "Kevin showed that he can compete with anyone in the country," Reina said. Although Rucci is the top prize among Reina's newest athletes, several other wrestlers are expected to make an impact on the program. Like Rucci, 197-pounder Richard Wilson comes to Penn with a stellar high school record. In addition to winning the Michigan state championship as a senior, Wilson competed on the United States 18-and-under team at the World Championships. "Richard is coming in at a spot where we have a very high need," Reina said, noting that Wilson should challenge senior Andrei Rodzianko for the 197 pound position. While Rucci and Wilson have the ability to impact the wrestling program immediately, Reina believes it may take longer for Craig Melcher's presence to be felt. "Craig was someone we felt was the sleeper of this recruiting class," Reina said. "He has a lot of the right tools." Unlike Rucci and Wilson, Melcher -- who attended West Morris Mendham High School in Chester, N.J. -- did not have many accomplishments in his first three years of high school. In his senior year, however, Melcher stormed through the regular season and carried an unbeaten record heading into States. Like Rucci, though, Melcher never competed in the tournament. He suffered a broken leg before the championships and could not compete. But his performance in the early part of the season earned him a trip to the Junior Nationals, where he went five rounds into the tournament before bowing out. Reina believes that Rucci and Wilson will have the most immediate impact on his squad, while Melcher has the potential to also make a significant contribution in the future. The other members of the class are proven high school stars, but their potential for the next few years is still unclear. The Penn wrestling team is consistently one of the nation's best. Despite losing Slay, the all-time winningest Penn wrestler, there is no reason to believe anything will change.

SCOUTING REPORT: A healthy Hasani White bolsters the secondary

(09/09/98 9:00am)

The Penn junior converman sat out the 1997 season injured but returns this fall to his starting role. Last September, Penn sophomore Hasani White started at cornerback in the season opener against Dartmouth. It was the first chance he had to contribute regularly to the Quakers' defense. It was, however, also his last. Until now. A knee injury ended any chance White had to prove himself last season. Next Saturday, against Dartmouth, White will have the opportunity to become a staple in the Penn defensive backfield. In Penn's first game last year, after Big Green running back Dylan Karczewski caught a pass, White tried to tackle him. But as he went to make the play, not all of his body was with him. White's leg got caught in the Franklin Field turf, injuring his knee and ending his season. A torn meniscus was the diagnosis, and the safety originally expected to miss three or four weeks. He did not expect to miss the rest of the year. "It just didn't heal right," White said. "I wasn't ready to come back, so I just stayed out the whole season." It was supposed to be White's breakthrough season. As a freshman, he was an important contributor on special teams and saw time in the defensive backfield as a nickelback. White was a projected starter in the secondary last fall, where he would alternate between cornerback and free safety. His misfortune in the season-opener dealt a blow to the entire Penn defense. "Without question, when you lose a quality varsity defensive player, it's going to hurt," Penn defensive coordinator Mike Toop said. White's return and the play of the secondary are vital to the defense's success this season. "Obviously, [White] will be a good addition to the defensive backfield," starting cornerback and co-captain Joe Piela said. "We need a couple guys to step up. He's a guy who has some experience, and I think he'll get the job done." To get the job done, White must pass his first test on September 19. He will be facing the same offense that was on the field the last time he played competitively. The main question right now is whether or not White is back in top football shape. "Physically, he's fine," Toop said. "The tough thing for him is that except for 12 practices in the spring, he hasn't played in a year." With the exception of Piela, most members of the defensive backfield are inexperienced. After losing John Bishop -- an All-Ivy League safety -- and Larrin Robertson to graduation, the Quakers need players like White to fill the open slots. Along with White and Piela -- who has also spent time at free safety during practice -- Bruce Rossignol, a fullback last season, and Joey Alofaitulli are projected as the other starters in the secondary. The 1998 edition of the Penn defensive backfield is not expected to set any Ivy League records this year, but it should be able to keep most Ancient Eight offenses in check. "Right now, I think [the secondary] is very inconsistent," Toop said. "We have some very talented athletes. It's just a matter of gaining experience and consistency." For White, the Dartmouth game represents an old chance reborn. His chance to establish himself last season died against Dartmouth. Next Saturday, White could give that old chance new life.

Bayer wins third NCAA title

(09/04/98 9:00am)

Penn has seen its fair share of top athletes this past year -- an All-American track runner, a third-round NFL draft choice and several first team All-Ivy Leaguers head the impressive list. Very few of those athletes, however, can claim to be the nation's absolute best in their respective sports. Junior Cliff Bayer can make that claim. Bayer defended his U.S. Division I Senior National Fencing title in the men's foil with a 15-1 thrashing of Dan Kellner in the finals of the championships held Friday, June 12 through Monday, June 15 in New York City. This victory marks the third U.S. national title for Bayer, who won the championship in 1995 and 1997 and took the silver medal in 1996. Winning the title not only makes Bayer the U.S. champion in the foil, but it also places him atop the national point standings. Bayer, who represented both Penn and the New York Athletic Club at the U.S. Nationals, had held the top spot since 1995. However, he had recently fallen to third while not participating in enough tournaments. Points are awarded by how well fencers fare in various circuit and national tournaments. Circuit tournaments usually host 150-200 fencers, but only 50-60 fencers qualify to participate in the U.S. Nationals. "[The U.S. Nationals] are more condensed and faster, but also a lot harder," Bayer said. The national tournament is especially more difficult for those fencers unlucky enough to fence Bayer. Since the senior division is open, Bayer faced fencers of various ages. In the quarterfinals, he had little difficulty beating 27-year old Zaddick Longenbach -- who is currently ranked second behind Bayer in the foil -- by a score of 15-6. After that victory, Bayer went on to win what he described as "the most exciting bout of the tournament," a 15-14 triumph over Egyptian-born Maher Hamza. Bayer had trailed 14-12 in the bout before touching Hamza for the final three points and the win. With his victory in the semifinals, Bayer secured a meeting with Kellner, a very familiar face, in the finals. In last year's U.S. finals, Bayer barely squeaked out a 15-14 victory over Kellner, a recent Columbia graduate. Bayer also beat Kellner in the bronze medal foil bout at the 1998 NCAA tournament. "The guy Cliff faced in the finals usually gives him trouble, but he blew him away like grass in the wind," Penn fencing coach Dave Micahnik said. The source of Bayer's ease in defeating Kellner may be the training regimen he had followed in the preceding weeks. Bayer, the captain of the U.S. National Fencing Team, was invited with the rest of the U.S. team to participate in a training session in Portugal from May 18-22. The Portuguese Fencing Association invited teams from the U.S., Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Iran and Poland to take part in the five-day training session, which was followed by a competition. In the tournament, Bayer was the only American to advance into the round of 32. Losing to the eventual third-place finisher from Germany, Bayer placed 23rd overall. With a third U.S. championship under his belt, Bayer is now training for October's World Fencing Championships in Switzerland. As one of only four fencers on the U.S. team, Bayer will be hoping to improve America's international fencing reputation before the 2000 Olympic Games. "We're getting better," Bayer, a 1996 Olympian, said. "Hopefully, if we take some time off and train seriously, we can turn some heads." Bayer, who did not finish as high as he would have liked at the 1996 Games, also hopes to improve his own standing before Sydney. "Being in the Olympics was great, but to go and compete and not do as well as you could leaves you feeling incomplete," Bayer said. Another accomplishment Bayer would like to complete is helping the Penn team win the overall NCAA title. He realizes, however, that this goal may not be realistic until his senior year when the team will be more experienced. Although he won the NCAA individual foil title as a freshman, the team title is still his ultimate goal. "There is nothing like winning the overall title," Bayer said. "There is only one overall [champion], but there are many individuals." There may be many individual champions, but if the Penn or U.S. fencing teams achieve success, much of that success will be caused by one individual -- Cliff Bayer.

City swoons over Penn's Glanville

(09/04/98 9:00am)

Former Penn star Doug Glanville is having a stellar first year with the Philadelphia Phillies. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a common saying in Philadelphia: "Water covers 2/3 of the Earth. Garry Maddox covers the rest." Former Phillies center fielder Maddox, who was affectionately known to Phillies fans as the "Secretary of Defense," has been out of action for over a decade. His territory, however, has not gone uncovered. Currently, the job of patrolling Maddox's former turf belongs to Penn alumnus Doug Glanville. Glanville, who graduated with a systems engineering degree in 1992, has not only patrolled center field for the Phillies this year, but has become one of the key players on the young, upcoming squad. Coming to the Phillies in an offseason trade for popular second baseman Mickey Morandini, Glanville has provided a needed spark from the leadoff spot and a reliable glove in the outfield. A star outfielder for Penn through '91, Glanville entered the amateur draft after his junior year, when he was named to several All-Star teams, including the All-American second team by Baseball America. His road to Major League success, however, was not easy. Drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the 12th pick in the draft, he endured five minor league seasons before reaching the bigs in 1996. Last season, though, was the season in which Glanville established himself as a true major leaguer. Inserted into the Cubs lineup early in the 1997 season, Glanville hit over .300 and looked to be a staple of the Cubs outfield for many seasons to come. That all changed on December 23, 1997, however, when the Cubs sent him back to his college town for Phillies' second baseman Morandini. "It was tough to leave [Chicago]," Glanville said. "I knew it was a better situation [in Philadelphia]. I was just emotionally attached to all the people and all the things I've been through. It made it hard to leave." Despite his emotional ties to Chicago, Glanville is happy to be back in Philadelphia. Not only is he closer to his family in Teaneck, N.J., but the Phillies are giving him a chance he never had in the Windy City. "[The Cubs] never really said, 'O.K., you're our starting center fielder,'" Glanville said. "I knew the trade would be good, because I'd have a chance to play in my natural position." Not everyone, however, thought Glanville would have that chance, especially Lenny Dykstra. Dykstra was a star for the Phillies for several years. He was a leader of the 1993 National League champs, having an MVP-type season. Back injuries, however, have sidelined Dykstra for the past few seasons, but 1998, Dykstra thought, would be the year for him to return to the Phillies' outfield. Unfortunately for Dykstra, things did not work out his way. Glanville proved during spring training that he, not Dykstra (still nagged by the back injury), deserved the starting nod in center. "People tried to make it into a controversy, but I really didn't see it that way," Glanville said. "[Dykstra] had been away from the game for a while, and he was trying to make his comeback. I didn't have any control over what he was going to do. I just did my job and let the rest take care of itself." Glanville has done his job -- and done it exceedingly well. For the first time since Dykstra went down, the Phils have a reliable center fielder and top-notch leadoff hitter. Last year, the Phillies relied on inexperienced players like Wendell Magee to fill the hole in center. Glanville has filled the hole and played gold-glove caliber defense. Boasting a .994 fielding average, Glanville has only two errors this season. His presence has also helped the rest of the Phillies' outfield, as left fielder Gregg Jefferies, before his trade to the Anaheim Angels, had not made a single miscue all year. Jefferies has been noted in the past for poor defense. While he has been excellent in the field, Glanville has also been dangerous at the plate. He is currently among the National League leaders with 172 hits, 98 runs and also ranks among the league leaders in runs, at-bats and triples. He is currently on pace to become the first Phillie with 200 hits in a season since all-time hit king Pete Rose accomplished the feat in 1979. One aspect of Glanville's game atypical of a leadoff hitter is his inability to draw walks. Having fewer than 50 walks in over 120 games, as a leadoff hitter, is both rare and distressing. However, it is a small blackmark on his record, compared to the offensive fire power he has provided the Phillies. "Even when I was in Chicago, I was still in the background," Glanville said. "All of a sudden, I was thrust into the limelight." Glanville notes that the attention may have been caused more by his return to the town where he played his college ball than his performance. His play on the field, though, has earned him much more attention this year. His solid defense and clutch hitting -- as well as his cooperation with the media and his friendliness with the fans -- has gained him not only the attention of Philadelphians, but also of the rest of the baseball world. In fact, many thought his play should have earned him a trip to Colorado for the 1998 All-Star Game. "It's pretty overwhelming," Glanville said. "I don't have a lot of free time all of a sudden." He may have been overwhelmed at first, but the attention is something Doug Glanville will become accustomed to. If the 27-year-old star continues to play the way he has in 1998, he may not have much free time for a very long time.

Four big summer months of sports

(09/04/98 9:00am)

With school out, Penn athletes took their skills around the world. The 1997-98 school year came to a close in May. By that time, most Penn sports teams had finished their respective seasons. For Penn athletes, however, the summer was a chance to work on their skills and to improve before the next season. But that was not all the summer represented. Despite no scheduled collegiate seasons, the summer months of 1998 were a busy time for Penn athletes. From various practice sessions and camps to summer basketball leagues and overseas tours, there was always something going on for the Quakers. As The Daily Pennsylvanian publishes its first fall issue, here is a look back at the highlights of the past few months in Penn athletics. · While most spring sports teams finished their seasons by the time finals rolled around, that was not the case for the Penn track teams. The tracksters remained on campus a few extra weeks, competing in the Heptagonal Championships, as well as the IC4A and ECAC championships. On the weekend of May 9-10, all eyes in Ivy League track turned to Brown for Heps. The Penn men were looking to defend their outdoor title and to defeat Princeton, the team that edged them for the indoor title. Once again, the Quakers came up short, barely losing to Princeton by a score of 149-147. Robin Martin, however, did bring another title back to Penn. The winner of the 800, the second place finisher in the 400 and the anchor of the winning 4x400, Martin was named the meet's Most Outstanding Athlete. Martin repeated his 800 victory the following week at the IC4As when Penn earned its highest point total since 1972 and placed second behind Georgetown. Martin's season, however, was not over. He went on to the NCAA Championships two weeks later and placed third in the 800, earning All-American honors. While not as successful as the men, the Penn women's track team also had some top performers at the season-ending meets. Although her team finished a disappointing fifth at Heps, Penn junior Lisa El earned 10 points with a first place finish in the triple jump. A week later, the Penn women tied William & Mary and the University of Massachusetts for 34th place at ECACs, scoring six points. · While some spring athletes were racing around the track, others were on the river in May. Both crew teams continued their seasons past the end of school. The Penn men's crew team became the winningest team at Eastern Sprints in the 1990s, when it edged Harvard to take first place at the crew equivalent of the Ivy League championship. The Quakers could not repeat this performance two weeks later, however, as they finished fourth at the IRA Championships. Princeton won the race, and Penn also finished behind West Coast powers Washington and California. The Penn women's crew team also had representatives at the national championship. Although the Red and Blue did not qualify as a team, the varsity four did make the cut. Despite entering NCAAs as one of only four seeded boats, Penn could not get past the semifinal round and finished third in the Petite Final behind Michigan and Iowa. · Cliff Bayer proved once again that he is one of the nation's elite fencers. Bayer, who will be a junior in the fall, earned his third U.S. Division I Senior National Fencing title in the foil when he defeated his rival, recent Columbia grad Dan Kellner. Bayer, a 1996 Olympian, also spent a week in Portugal with some of the top fencers in the world. In a tournament at the training session, Bayer was the only American to advance to the round of 32 before losing to the eventual third place finisher. The captain of the U.S. fencing team, Bayer will be back in action at the World Fencing Championships in Switzerland in October. · Mina Pizzini may not be one of the most well-known athletes on campus, but she was Penn's lone representative at one of Philadelphia's largest sporting events this summer. Competing in the First Union Liberty Classic, Pizzini, a member of the Penn cycling team, raced with the best female cyclists in the world. She received an invitation to the prestigious Liberty Classic, which was recently named a World Cup Event. · Like Pizzini, two other Penn cyclists competed this summer. Detective Commander Tom King and Sergeant John Washington represented the Penn Police Department at the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Olympics. Washington and King both raced in the mountain bike race and the 5K run and brought home several awards to Penn. Although King is a former college athlete and works out several times each week, Washington is the more experienced athlete in police competitions. A former college cross country runner, Washington competed in the International Police Olympics in Salt Lake City in 1996 and hopes to compete at the 2000 Games in Stockholm, Sweden. · Mitch Marrow left his disappointing 1997 season and eligibility scandal behind him when he inked a three year, $1.8 million contract with the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League. Marrow, a defensive lineman who was selected by the Panthers with the 73rd pick in the NFL Draft, was placed on injured reserve by the Panthers when he suffered a herniated disk in his back. Players who go on injured reserve during the preseason are required to sit out the entire season, so it will be 1999 before Marrow will suit up for a regular season game. He was competing with several other defensive line draft picks and former All-Pro Sean Gilbert for time on the line in Carolina's 3-4 defense. · Going to Europe was popular with Penn sports teams this summer. At the end of May, the field hockey team toured England and faced several club teams. The club competition in Europe is much better than the squads Penn faces during the season. The track teams were right behind the field hockey players, as they made their journey to the United Kingdom several weeks later. Teamed with athletes from Cornell, the Quakers annihilated the European competition. In fact, at one meet on the island of Guernsey, the Americans broke 16 meet records. Finally, the crew team headed to Great Britain for the Henley Royal Regatta. Earning a bye in the first round, Penn beat a German crew before losing to Harvard in the semifinals of the Ladie's Plate. · While most activity on the Penn sports scene was limited to the current college athletes, one alum stood out on a larger stage. Playing in his second full Major League season, 1992 Engineering grad Doug Glanville has been a steady performer as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies. After an impressive season with the Cubs in 1997, Glanville was traded to the Phillies for second baseman Mickey Morandini in the off-season. The trade has worked wonderfully for the Phillies, who are dramatically improved over last year's squad. Glanville is currently second in the National League with 147 hits and fifth in the National League with 85 runs. He has had hitting streaks of 18 and 17 games, as well as two that lasted 14 games. · Penn said goodbye to one of its legends this summer. Franny Murray, who was inducted into the Penn Hall of Fame in May, died in July at age 82. A star for the Penn football team in the 1930s, Murray was a large part of the legendary "Destiny Backfield." He also captained the Penn basketball team, and he served as Penn's Athletic Director in the 1950s. · The Penn athletic program said hello to Gordie Ernst, who became the newest member of the Penn coaching staff. Replacing the departed Gene Miller, Ernst was named men's tennis coach. A former tennis and hockey player at Brown, Ernst was most recently an assistant coach at Northwestern. He hopes to improve on the 9-13 record the Quakers had last year under Miller.

M. Crew reaches semis of Henley

(09/04/98 9:00am)

Ending a nearly 11-month season, the Penn heavyweight eight boat lost to Harvard in the semifinals of the Ladie's Challenge Plate at the Henley Royal Regatta on England's Thames River July 4. The Penn team earned a trip to England and the prestigious regatta with its first place finish at Eastern Sprints, but not through official qualification standards. "We like to reward the team when they win a big race like Eastern Sprints or IRAs," Penn coach Stan Bergman said. "The trip was completely funded by crew alumni and fund-raising. It didn't cost the University a cent." By competing well against the best crews America has to offer, the Quakers were rewarded with a chance to compete with the best from rest of the world. Founded in 1839 and held annually except during the two World Wars, Henley is the oldest regatta in the world. It is also one of the largest, attracting a record 552 crews in its various races in 1998. These crews represented 19 different countries, including first time entrants from Guatemala, Chile and Turkey. While crews came from all parts of the world for different races, the Red and Blue prepared themselves for the Ladie's Plate. "The Ladie's Plate is the second fastest of all the eights behind only the Grand Challenge," according to Bergman. Penn found itself in a field that also included crews from Great Britain and Germany, as well as Ivy League rivals Harvard and Dartmouth, Big East team Syracuse and the first-ever boat from Turkey. Unlike the American brand, races at Henley feature only two boats per race. Earning a bye in the first round, Penn beat R-C Favorite Hammonia from Hamburg, Germany, by 1 1/4 boat lengths in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, the Quakers finished nearly three boat lengths behind Harvard on the one mile, 550-yard-long course, which is slightly longer than the standard 2,000 meters. "We led until the final two minutes," Bergman said. "We would have liked to beat Harvard, but it just didn't work out that way." The Crimson, the team Penn edged out to win Eastern Sprints, beat Cambridge in the finals to win the Ladie's Plate. Although the Henley Royal Regatta only lasted from July 1 through July 5, the Quakers spent two weeks overseas, not just preparing for the races -- but also as a reward for their fine season. "They're really a good group of athletes," Bergman said. "They did a good job during the year." The year for these athletes ended on the Thames in the wake of Harvard's boat, but it began over 10 months ago -- last September on the Schuylkill River. The Quakers will be back on that same river in September, allowing them only a little more than a month without scheduled training and competition. Many miles of rowing will follow during the 1998-99 season. After these miles are logged, the Quakers may find themselves back on the Thames next July. · A group of 40 women under the age of 19 reported to Penn this summer in hopes of making the Junior National Women's Rowing Team coached by Penn's women's crew coach Barb Kirch. After weeks of training they competed at the U.S. Junior National Trials on Carnegie Lake in Princeton, N.J., on July 12. Among the athletes who trained under Kirch, 14 were the American representatives at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Ottensheim, Austria. The team qualified two boats, an eight-person and four-person, and also sent two alternates to the competition. Although Kirch worked with 40 of the best young rowers in the nation, only the two boats qualified for the World Championships. Although few rowers qualified to go to Austria, the others who competed at the U.S. trials had their season extended. Many of the rowers competed at the CanAmMex Regatta in Cincinnati. Despite not qualifying for the world team, most members of the original 40-person group gained valuable experience. A large percentage of them will be rowing for college teams in the fall. Two will be rowing for Penn in '98.

Field Hockey goes across the pond for summer club games

(09/04/98 9:00am)

For collegiate athletes, summer does not mean that the playing stops. Summer training is crucial for improved play during the season. And for many athletes, playing against international competition is one way to improve. This is especially true for sports that are more popular in other countries. With this thought in mind, the Penn field hockey team journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean for a European tour, which lasted from May 19 through June 2. The two-week voyage began with a 10-day, 5-game tour of England. The Quakers began the schedule of games in northern England, facing teams from the cities of Blackburn and York before making their way south to London. While the Red and Blue faced one university team during the trip, most of their games were against club teams. As the second most popular sport worldwide -- behind only soccer -- field hockey is taken very seriously by European clubs, who offer some of the best competition in the world. "We were overmatched," Penn coach Val Cloud said. "We were really challenged. The level of hockey was exceptional." After facing top club teams in England, the the 21-member group -- 18 players, two coaches and a trainer -- traveled south to Amsterdam to observe the World Cup of field hockey. "The highlight of the trip was spectating the World Cup," Cloud said. "It is the most prestigious field hockey event in the world, even beyond the Olympics." For the first time in history this year, the world cups for both men and women were held at the same location. Several Quakers were in attendance to see the Australian women and Dutch men win World Cup titles. They also watched as the American women played in the seventh place game. The NCAA Rules Committee allows teams to make international trips at most once every four years, and this was the first European trip for the Penn field hockey team since 1988. Penn, which finished the 1997 season 10-8, with a 3-4 Ivy League record, believes the experience gained by playing top club teams and watching the World Cup will help when the season begins in the fall. "Everything went really well," Cloud said. "It was a very positive experience." In addition to the field hockey experience, however, the Quakers gained more from this trip. "The most rewarding aspect of the trip was the bonding and interaction of the team away from the pressures of the season and school," Cloud said. When the fall season arrives, the Penn field hockey players will enter the season more experienced and knowledgeable. Two weeks of the summer -- and memories of their overseas competition -- is sure to impact the team's entire season.