The Year That Just Was

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Most teams fell short, but there were triumphs to celebrate.

 By Noel Hynd

SOME OF US WHO FOLLOW Penn varsity sports have grown a little spoiled in recent years. League titles in the two high profile competitions — football and men’s basketball — have not been uncommon during the Bagnoli and Dunphy eras. My idea of a cozy transition from fall to winter, for example, is watching the football team wrap up an Ivy championship at Franklin Field on one of those cold gray Saturdays before Thanksgiving, then walking to the Palestra to watch a five o’clock scrimmage by the basketballers — who were just about to begin a successful defense of an Ivy championship. 
   But those titles were not to be this year and, for that matter, neither were most others — not that there weren’t some outstanding performances and athletes at Penn this year, as chronicled in this column. 
   But the bottom line is: Three titles this year. 
   Men’s wrestling and women’s gymnastics were winners in the winter. I covered men’s wrestling in the April issue, so we’ll concentrate here on women’s gymnastics. In March, the women gymnasts captured their first ever Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship (ECAC) title in a competition held at James Madison University’s Godwin Hall. 
   Sophomore Becky Nadler established a new Godwin Hall record on the floor exercise with a score of 9.85. Her score also broke the Penn floor exercise record of 9.8, set in 1995 by Monique Burton, C’95. Sophomore Lizzie Jacobson took the individual title on the balance beam with a score of, 9.8, tying the Penn record she set earlier in the season. 
   Senior Kathleen Gunn finished second in the all-around competition with a score of 38.075, and, for the second consecutive year, qualified for the first round of the NCAA Regional Championships. Junior Molly Sullivan finished fifth in the all-around with a score of 37.8. 
   On the vault, three Quakers finished in the top five. Freshman Jenn Capasso was second by just .025 points, finishing with a score of 9.6. Junior Shannon Stafford was the fourth-place finisher with a score of 9.55, while Sullivan tied for fifth with a score of 9.45. Senior Shilpa Rao finished fifth on the uneven bars with a score of 9.625. On the balance beam, Capasso and Gunn finished in a four-way tie for second with a score of 9.75. Sullivan tied for second on the floor exercise with a score of 9.825, while Gunn tied for fourth with a score of 9.8. 
    The third league title captured by Penn this year was won by the golf team this spring. This was no small accomplishment and will give some alumni country clubbers something to think about while they watch one of those brand new Titlists splash down into the water this summer. 
   Penn’s golf program wasn’t even in existence four years ago. Last year, under first-year coach Francis Vaughn, the golfers came within one stroke of winning the league title. This year, the equation worked out even better, as Penn won its first-ever Ivy League championship since the Ivies began hosting a tournament in 1976. 
   The Quakers jumped out to a two-stroke lead after the first day of competition, shooting a 303 on Friday, while Columbia shot a 305. Junior Christoph Kyrle led all golfers with a 72, while freshman Kyle Golditch finished tied for sixth after shooting a 76. Senior captain Adam Bradshaw shot a 77, good for ninth place, while sophomore Rob Goldfaden shot a 78, tying him for 10th. 
   The second day of competition brought out the best in everyone, as 1997 Ivy League Champion Yale shot a 288 to nearly overcome a 10-shot deficit to Penn. But Yale’s comeback fell short as four of the five Penn golfers shot a +5 on the day. The final math showed that the upstart Quakers had edged out Ivy favorite Yale by two strokes, 599-601. 
   Kyrle, Goldfaden, and Bradshaw were named to the All-Ivy League Golf Team after finishing the two-day tournament, second (147), fifth (150) and seventh (151), respectively.
   Penn named five male and five female student-athletes to the 1997-98 Academic All-Ivy League list for the winter. These 10 athletes were starters or key reserves on any officially recognized varsity team. To be eligible for Academic All-Ivy, each needed to have a 3.0 or better grade point average. Named were seniors Jeff Goldstein, men’s basketball (3.60 gpa); Kathleen Gunn, gymnastics (3.43); Jason Karp, squash (3.97); Dan Nord, track (3.68); and Colin Robinson, swimming (3.04); juniors Andrei Rodzianko, wrestling (3.87); and Lindsay Anderson, track (3.04); and sophomores Lizzie Jacobson, gymnastics (3.78); Margo Katz, fencing, (3.35); and Katie Patrick, squash (3.20). 

Noel Hynd, C’70, writes regularly on sports for the Gazette.

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