Selected highlights from the past year in sports.
By Noel Hynd
AS is the case every year, hundreds of student-athletes played hundreds of intercollegiate games for Penn this past year–from which emerged at least as many lasting friendships and memories. Especially notable, however, were six championship teams and certain individual performances:
Football: Senior Jim Finn rushed for 188 yards on 36 carries and one touchdown to lead Penn to its first Ivy League title since 1994, with a 35-21 win over Cornell on November 21 at Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca. The Quakers finished with an 8-2 overall mark and a 6-1 Ivy League record. Finn was named the 1998 Asa Bushnell Player of the Year for the Ivy League, earned unanimous First Team All-Ivy honors for the second consecutive season and received a flurry of media attention when he was selected by the Chicago Bears as the 253rd–and final–pick in the 1999 National Football League draft.
Sprint Football: The 1998 Sprint Football team won its second title in three years and the first under the new league name, the Collegiate Sprint Football League. The Quakers recorded their best season ever with a record of 5-1 overall and 3-1 CSFL, and junior running back Tim Ortman was named the League’s Most Valuable Player.
Men’s Basketball: After being upended at the Palestra on February 9 in a disastrous come-from-behind victory by Princeton, the Quakers came back in dramatic fashion, finishing the season with a 13-1 Ivy record and paying back the Tigers with a 73-48 drubbing at Jadwin on March 2 to take the Ivy League Championship. Junior Michael Jordan and senior Paul Romanczuk were named First Team All-Ivy League. The Quakers were defeated by the University of Florida, 75-61, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Men’s Fencing: The Quakers won their 13th Ivy League Championship and first in 16 years, with a 5-0 league record (also their first since 1983).
Gymnastics: The 1999 Penn gymnasts recorded their third consecutive Ivy Classic Championship at the Palestra on February 28. Penn scored 188.925 points for the win and senior Molly Sullivan was crowned champion in the all-around. Sullivan went on to be named the ECAC Gymnast of the Year and set a new school record in the floor exercise at the 1999 ECAC Gymnastics Championships, among other honors.
Wrestling: The Penn wrestling team continued its dominance in the Ivy League and the EIWA, winning its fourth consecutive championships in both leagues. The Penn team finished 11th overall in the 1999 NCAA Championships (the highest Penn finish since 1942), and three of the eight wrestlers representing the team–seniors Andrei Rodzianko and Bandele Adiyni-Bada and junior Brett Matter–were named All-Americans. Rodzianko, who racked up numerous honors throughout his career, placed fourth individually at the NCAAs. He finished the year with a record of 25-2 and was named to the All-Ivy First Team for the second consecutive year.
There were many other noteworthy contributions to Penn sports this year. Among them:
Men’s Swimming: Penn’s Most Outstanding Swimmer in the EISL Championships was freshman Kenneth Goh. Goh finished second in the 100-yard breast stroke in 56.5 seconds, breaking a 12-year-old record by more than a.second and qualifying for the U.S. nationals in the process. The men’s team turned in strong performances overall as more than 75 percent of the team.accomplished lifetime bests.
Women’s Swimming: The women’s swim team was led by two freshmen, Devin McGlynn and April Fletcher. Fletcher proved to be the fastest breaststroker in Penn history, recording times of 1:07.3 in the 100 and 2:25.4 in the 200 to set new school marks. McGlynn broke the 200-yard freestyle record (1:53.0) held by Ivy Silver Anniversary Honoree Sarah Ralston.
Women’s Tennis: Led by three senior tri-captains, the women’s tennis team completed its most successful season in the nineties. Seniors Karen Ridley, Julia Feldman and Brooke Herman wanted to finish their careers as Ivy Champions and made the best effort in recent memory to do so, but fell just one match short of a storybook season. Penn’s second place finish, with a record of 6-1 in the Ivy League and an overall mark of 19-2, was only matched in 1996 and 1985. Despite a string of 15 straight match wins this spring, the team just missed an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a loss to Harvard.
Heavyweight Rowing: After finishing fourth at the San Diego Crew Classic, the Penn varsity eight returned to the East coast to win the Blackwell and Adams Cups on the Schuylkill River (the first time since 1991 that Penn defeated Harvard for the Adams Cup). The Quakers finished third at the EARC Sprints with a time of 5:48.91.
Lightweight Rowing: The Penn lightweight varsity eight boat finished second at the San Diego Crew Classic in 1999, but fell in its next three cup races. Penn claimed its only Cup of the spring against Navy, extending its Callow Cup victories to three. The Quakers finished ninth with a time of 6:04.91 at the EARC Sprints.
Women’s Rowing: The Penn crew recorded six straight wins and an 11th place finish at the San Diego Crew Classic. The first varsity boat defeated Yale for only the third time in 21 years of rowing for the Connell Cup and kept its nine-year winning streak intact by defeating Navy for the Class of ‘91 Plate on the Schuylkill River.
Last but not least, it is always significant to honor genuine student athletes. This past year, 30 of our best were chosen to represent Penn on the Academic All-Ivy League lists for the 1998-99 school year.
Enjoy the rest of the summer. The final fall-sports schedule of the century begins in a few weeks.
Noel Hynd, C’70, writes on sports for the Gazette.