Ten Student-Athletes Named Academic All-Ivy for the Spring

Ten University of Pennsylvania student-athletes, five men and five women, were named 2005 Academic All-Ivy League for the spring season. Highlighting the list are multiple Academic All-Ivy recipients in senior Melissa Aylor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep), and Courtney Jaworski (Tacoma, Wash./Curtis). All other honorees are first time recipients.

The 10 student-athletes were starters or key reserves on an officially recognized varsity team with 3.0 or better cumulative grade point averages. Each institution nominated its own men and women from its eligible student-athletes.

Aylor earned her third-consecutive Academic All-Ivy honor after an outstanding season on the golf course. The economics major led the women’s golf team to a third-place finish at the Ivy Championships by placing sixth in the tournament. In the fall, Aylor helped her team to its first tournament victory by capturing the Lehigh Fall Invitational.

Jaworski won his second-straight Ivy League title in the 800m at the 2005 Heptagonal Championships. The political science went on to finish third at the NCAA East Regional and automatic qualify for the NCAA Championships. At the Penn Relays, he ran a leg of the 4x800m relay team who finished fourth in the Championship of America relay. His team crossed the finish line in 7:26.88, just 2.4 seconds off the 31 year old school record. Jaworski is a four-time All-Ivy honoree.

Senior Katie Spofford (Paoli, Pa./Episcopal Academy) wrapped up the up 2005 women’s lacrosse season with 21 goals and two assists for 23 points on the offensive end of the field. She also had 17 ground balls, 22 draw controls, which was good for second on the team, and caused 17 turnovers. The anthropology major, who started every game in her career, was named to the IWLCA/US Lacrosse Mid-Atlantic All-Regional team and named first-team All-Ivy League.

Senior Matt Horn (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) a member of the baseball team, started 34 of 36 games played during his final season.The management and legal studies major ranked fifth on the team with a .283 batting average, tied for third in doubles with seven and tied for fifth in runs batted in with 16. Horn’s presence was felt at the plate whether the Quakers were batting or not due to his duties as the Red and Blue’s catcher. On the offensive end, Horn bashed three home runs and registered six multi-hit games. Behind the dish, he threw out a team-leading 15 base runners, recorded 41 put outs and added three assists. This is not the first academic award Horn has earned during his time at Penn. He was named CoSIDA Academic All-District II at the conclusion of the 2004 season.

Senior Beka Strock (Rensselaerville, N.Y./Emma Willard) balanced a heavy workload in the classroom with rowing and ROTC in her final year with the Red and Blue but managed to excel in all three areas. Strock, a psychology and history & sociology of science double major, earned Penn’s Hope Barnes Award for most outstanding contributor and served as her battalion commander for ROTC.

Senior rower Jason Brooks (Niskayuna, N.Y./ Niskayuna) helped the lightweight second varsity to a fourth-place finish at the Eastern Sprints this season. The applied science and computer science major is a two-year varsity rower.

Junior Dana McCurdy (Mountainside, N.J./Livingston) finished second in the 400m hurdles at the 2005 Outdoor Heptagonal Championships to earn All-Ivy honors. The psychology and communications major ran the second fastest time in school history in the event in the qualifying round at the Heps. She was also a member of the 4x400m relay team who finished eighth at the NCAA East Regional with a record breaking time of 3:39.09. That relay team also won the 4x400m Heptagonal race at the Penn Relays, finished fourth in the ECAC Championship event at the Penn Relays and third at the ECAC Championships.

Junior Andrew Blechman (Potomac, Md./Landon) earned his second academic honor of the year as he was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District II team. The philosophy, politics and economics major received the men’s lacrosse I.W. Burnham, II Most Outstanding Player Award and earned his first All-Ivy League accolade with an honorable mention nod. Blechman anchored the Quakers defense and was assigned the tough task of shadowing the opposition’s top scoring threat. He played in all 13 games, recorded 21 ground balls and had six caused turnovers in his third season with the Quakers.

Junior Jen Nichols (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cooper City) earned her first Academic All-Ivy honor after a solid softball season. The marketing major platooned in the outfield, at catcher and at shortstop appearing in 32 games, starting 26 contests. She hit .253 with 19 hits, including a team-best three home runs, and drove in a team-high 16 runs.

Rounding out the Academic All-Ivy honorees is sophomore Mikhail Bekker (Moscow, Russia/ Slavic-Anglo-American School). Bekker continued to shine for the men’s tennis team putting together another stellar season. The finance major was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection after posting a 6-1 mark in Ancient Eight play. Bekker went 18-10 overall and posted three wins at the ITA Northeastern Regional.

-Written by Kelly McCarthy, athletic communications assistant