Spring sports wrap-up: A year like no other

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

This was a school year unlike any other. As students and teachers, we all had to adjust the way we do things. Whether it was how we work, how we study, how we teach or how we go to class, things were just different. 

For student-athletes, this year has been a rollercoaster from start to finish.  

Besides the men’s and women’s golf teams, which were able to compete in a couple events in September and October, there were no sports at Gannon University this fall.  

Fast forward to the spring, and every single team on campus competed in some way this semester.  

There was a Gannon athletic event nearly every day. The athletic department worked tirelessly to make sure each team played some sort of schedule. 

Every spring sport that normally competes during this time of year played out a relatively normal schedule, along with every team that usually plays in the fall playing out whatever kind of schedule it could put together.  

As of now, the only sports that are still competing are baseball, softball and golf.  

Taking a look back at this whirlwind of a semester, we can see some great accomplishments and stories for many of the teams 

Softball, which has clinched a spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoffs, put together a 25-13 regular season record. Besides the team’s success, one of the most interesting storylines to watch has been the program record for career home runs. Prior to this season, the record was 28. As it stands now, Kaity Stocker has 36 and her teammate, Maria Taliani, has 32. 

They both broke the previous record and are now Nos. 1 and 2 in Gannon history. We will get to see if the Knights can make any noise in the playoffs starting Wednesday, when they take on California University of Pennsylvania 

Both basketball teams put together fine seasons, with the men finishing 10-4 and the women 13-1. The men were led by a trio of guards in Chris Clancy, Braden Olsen and Ike Herster. They averaged 13.5, 13.4 and 12.1 points per game, respectively.  

The women cruised to a 13-1 record despite not having their best player, Tori Obenrader, for most of the season. The Knights’ only loss came to No. 13 Daemen, which Gannon went on to beat in the next matchup.  

Despite the team’s near-perfect record and being ranked highly in the regional rankings all season, the Knights were not selected to go to the NCAA tournament for some reason. Although it was a sour ending, Gannon had a tremendous season.  

We also got to see the Gannon University football team get back in action this spring. It played a four-game schedule that ended with a thrilling overtime victory over rival Mercyhurst, 28-21.  

It is always fun to watch this rivalry play out in any sport, but this matchup at Erie Veterans Memorial Stadium was one to remember. Gannon got to showcase some of its young talent this spring, which will hopefully lead the way to a successful fall season under new head coach Erik Raeburn. 

We are all probably tired of hearing about COVID-19, but unfortunately, it still affected teams this semester. The most obvious case of a team being directly affected by it was when the men’s water polo team was preparing to head to the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC) tournament for the second consecutive year 

After another impressive regular season where the team finished 7-2, it fell in the MAWPC-West championship to McKendree. Despite being a runner-up, the Knights would still get invited to the MAWPC tournament in a normal year, but this was not a normal year.  

After some last-minute venue changes, the tournament eventually got moved to Bucknell and the field of eight got trimmed down to a field of three, leaving Gannon on the outside looking in.  

In a similar situation, the Gannon acrobatics and tumbling team finished its regular season undefeated for the first time in program history with a 6-0 record. The Knights ended the year ranked No. 5 in the nation, but the 2021 National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA) national championship field was reduced to four teams, leaving Gannon out 

At the PSAC swimming and diving championships, Silvija Taraska ended up breaking multiple program records for the women, while for the men, Chris Luus broke a program record in the 200 yard IM while also winning the 100 back.  

At the National Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships, Gannon’s competitive cheer team finished third in the nation in coed and game day. After not being able to take part in the competition in 2020 because of the event being canceled due to COVID-19, being ranked among the top three in the country meant a lot to the student-athletes.  

Just because the teams were all able to compete this year, does not mean it was easy. The athletic department was working seven days a week to make sure all the events ran smoothly. Men’s water polo and acrobatics and tumbling were unable to compete at championship tournaments because of reduced fields, but COVID-19 issues occurred much more frequently than that.  

Almost every team that competed had to reschedule or cancel games because of COVID-19. Add that on top of cancelations due to the weather, and you had a lot of shifting schedules. Despite these challenges, each team got a chance to compete and finish its season. 

For the student-athletes, coaches and fans, it is safe to say that everybody was grateful for a chance to compete this spring. For some student-athletes, this was their last chance to play in college since they will be graduating this semester.  

It was definitely a hectic and exciting semester for sports at Gannon University, and when the fall semester starts back up in August, we will most likely see a more traditional fall and spring season for these teams.  

Let’s all enjoy it. 



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