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Centennial Conference Champions

Athlete of the week: Sommer Denison

in Athlete of the Week/Sports by

Last weekend the Swarthmore Women’s Soccer team won their second Centennial Conference Championship in four years after beating 10th-ranked Johns Hopkins University. The Garnet held a 2-0 lead at the end of the first half, but Hopkins was able to tie the game up and send it to a penalty shootout, where the Garnet prevailed 3-1. Crucial in the win was goalkeeper Sommer Denison ʼ18, who made two big saves during penalty kicks for the Garnet to secure the win. Denison earned Centennial Conference tournament MVP honors for her performance. The Garnet move on to NCAA playoffs, and will face Susquehanna University on Nov. 11 in Geneva, New York.

Jack Corkery: What is your major, and what made you decide to pursue it?

Sommer Denison: I am an Economics and Psychology major. I chose Economics because I think it prepares me to work in business after college, and I chose Psychology because I really enjoyed the classes here at Swarthmore.

JC: What made you decide to attend Swarthmore?

SD: I am from California and wanted to attend college on the East coast, so that led me to look here. Also, Swarthmore is a great institution academically, and it worked out that I could also play soccer here, which meant it basically fit all parts of my checklist for a desired college.

JC: This is your first season in the net. What was the transition from field player to goalie like?

SD: It was definitely very different. It was almost like I was playing a new sport within the sport I had played my whole life! But, it was a lot of fun, and the coaches and Amy [Shmoys], the other goalie, made the transition a lot easier.

JC: Did you know that you would enter the game for penalty kicks before the championship game started?

SD: Yes, I did. Before our game against Haverford, Reba [Magier], our goalie coach, told me that I would be entering the game if it went to penalty kicks if I was up for it. I told her yes, and then it didn’t matter since we won in regulation. Then, against Johns Hopkins, once they tied the game up and we got to the second overtime I realized that I would probably be going in.

JC: What was the team morale like during the game after Johns Hopkins was able to tie the game back up?

SD: Surprisingly, we were still very positive even after we gave up the lead. I think we really showed grit and didn’t put our heads down, which is why we were able to pull out the victory in the end.

JC: What is the team’s outlook going forward as your team moves into the NCAA playoffs?

SD: There is definitely a positive energy that I think we are going to carry over from our finals victory into our first-round matchup. I think we are confident and that we are ready to play our game.

Athlete of the week: Mayank Agrawal ’18

in Athlete of the Week/Fall/Men/Sports by

Mayank Agrawal ’18, hailing from Sugarland, Texas, has contributed immensely to the Swarthmore Men’s Cross Country team throughout his four years with the program. Agrawal finished 24th overall in the Centennial Conference Championships this past Saturday, leading the Garnet to a fifth-place finish. Agrawal’s stellar performances were not limited to the Conference Championships: notable highlights throughout his senior season include a 17th place overall finish at the Bryn Mawr Invitational, and a 21st place finish at the Paul Short White. Agrawal and the team will prepare for their final meet, the NCAA regionals, on Nov. 11.

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what inspired you to pursue it?

Mayank Agrawal: I am a double major in computer science and philosophy. In high school, math was my thing, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do a full math major, nor have the science chops to do an engineering major. Computer science seemed like a great hybrid of the two, even though I had no computer science background coming into Swarthmore. I became interested in philosophy during my freshman spring after taking Introduction to Philosophy with Professor Thomason. There’s actually a very large overlap between philosophy, and math and computer science, believe it or not.

PP: What do you want to do after you graduate from Swarthmore?

MA: Ideally, I plan on going to graduate school to study cognitive science. I want to better understand how the mind works, while using computational frameworks to try and answer those questions.

PP: How have you balanced the opportunities you’ve been able to pursue outside of the classroom with competing and staying fit for cross country?

MA: There’s no perfect magic formula to it, but I’ve had to figure out how to allocate my time to pursue what’s important to me. Having such a big time commitment for practice in the day forces you to plan efficiently. I actually think participating in a sport has allowed me to be much more efficient and get more work done, because I think I’m much more aware as to how valuable my time is.

PP: As you reflect on your career at Swarthmore, what was the most rewarding athletic experience for you?

MA: During my sophomore spring, I ran the 10k at the Outdoor Conferences. I wasn’t expected to place (the top eight place), and it was my first time running this distance. As the race went on, I kept on picking people off, and I ended up snagging 8th place and placing, which was a complete shock to me. The race was on a Friday night, and most of my teammates who were coming to Conferences weren’t there yet. However, when I got back, I found out that the whole team was watching the livestream in Sharples. To have such a huge athletic achievement, while having teammates watching and cheering me on from afar was one of my most memorable experiences at Swarthmore.

PP: What got you into running as a sport as a child?

MA: One weekend during my sophomore year of high school I was really bored, so I decided to go for a run. It was the most painful experience of my life, but I actually enjoyed it! At the beginning, I couldn’t even run a mile. However, I began to run every weekend, and then every day, and then eventually joined the track team at my high school.

PP: If you could change one thing about Swarthmore, what would it be and why?

MA: I think in regular discourse at Swarthmore, particularly outside the classroom setting, we need to get better at evaluating people on their justification for their views. Sometimes, myself included, we are quick to label people who have different views than us, and I hope that Swatties can continue to aspire to be more open-minded.

Men’s Basketball beats Dickinson, crowned CC Champs

in Men by

Seattle’s CenturyLink Field is known as being one of the loudest sports venues in the world. Tarble Pavilion just might have given it a run for its money this past Friday and Saturday as the Men’s Basketball team competed for and won the Centennial Conference championship for the first time in school history. Tarble was filled to capacity as students crowded the arena to watch Swarthmore’s blowout win over Ursinus College in the semifinals and their hard-fought win over Dickinson College, securing the trophy along with their first conference championship.

Now the Garnet is participating in the NCAA championship tournament for the first time in program history. They secured an automatic berth because of their conference win. They were  selected to host the first two rounds of the tournament for their pod of four, which includes the College of Staten Island, Christopher Newport University, and Morrisville State University. The basketball team will have the chance to play at least the first two rounds for the national championship in front of their home crowd.

The Semifinal game against Ursinus started out fairly close, with Ursinus trailing by four points early in the second half. At that point, the Garnet began to turn it on, unleashing a scoring barrage that saw them go up by 21 points with six minutes remaining. The Garnet settled down to hold on to a comfortable 86-66 win over the visiting Bears amidst an electric Tarble Pavilion crowd. The Garnet were able to get many players involved in that game as six players scored in the double digits and center Robbie Walsh ’18 recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

However, point guard Cam Wiley ’19 led the Garnet in the championship game, scoring 28 points and shooting over 60% from the field and from 3-point range. This performance secured him the tournament MVP award, to go along with his unanimous selection as All-Centennial Conference First Team and Centennial Conference Player of the Year award. This game was one of the most hard-fought for the Garnet all season. Dickinson led at the half by four after going on a hot streak to end the period. Halfway through the second half, they extended the lead to 11 points. But the Garnet showed off their resilience, going on a 12-0 run to regain the lead, holding that lead for the rest of the game.

Wiley was especially impressive down the stretch, hitting a handful of three-pointers to keep Dickinson at bay and drawing chants of MVP every time he touched the ball from the raucous Swarthmore crowd. As the clock ran out, students had to be restrained so the Dickinson team could leave the court before the Swarthmore student section rushed the court and mob the basketball team.

Starting shooting guard Zack Yonda ’18 said, To win the first Centennial Conference title in school history in front of our home crowd is something that myself, and people around here will never forget. To do it with a group of guys who I plan to know for the rest of my life made it even more special.”

Wiley, who started the season as a reserve, saw his play time and statistics balloon after his freshman season in which he only played 14 games. This year, he was second in the conference in points per game and 8th in assists per game. Yonda contributed 13 points in the final’s win to cap his junior campaign which saw him break the career 1,000 point mark and be named to the All-Centennial Conference Second Team.

The Garnet faced tough matchups all year leading up to this conference tournament.

Being the preseason #1 seed in conference, every team that played us was an underdog, and because of that we got everyone’s best shot night after night. Additionally, we played much better competition in our non-conference schedule this year to better our chances of getting an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament,” Yonda said.

But the Garnet constantly fought through adversity, including the loss of point guard Matt Brennan ’18, to earn the first-seed in the conference, the right to host the tournament, and eventually the championship win.

“Since long before I arrived, every guy on the roster and every coach on the bench has been sacrificing themselves for the good of the team. The product of all that sacrifice is our unparalleled cohesiveness, our undying passion, and a spirit that earned us the title of Centennial Conference champions,” forward Nate Shafer ’20, the Centennial Conference leader in blocks, said.

Head Coach Landry Kosmalski, in fifth season at Swarthmore, has truly been a game-changer for the Garnet. He has coached them to consecutive 22-win seasons, as well as their first ever NCAA tournament berth. He now leads the Garnet into uncharted territory, as they compete in their first ever NCAA tournament. Kosmalski is also now a back-to-back recipient of the Centennial Conference Coach of the Year Award, and with him at the helm and plenty of young talent coming in, the Garnet look poised for success now and in years to come.

Yonda put it best, “For the first time in decades, Swarthmore men’s basketball is on the map and here to stay!”

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