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Seasons’ Greetings Bison Fans & Alumni!

The chill of winter has descended upon Lewisburg, our students are diligently finishing up their term papers and final exams, and soon they will be headed home to be with their families for the holidays. What better time of year to pause for a few moments and reflect upon all for which we have to be thankful.

When it comes to Bison Athletics, first and foremost I must thank all of our loyal supporters. To all of those who have cheered on the Orange & Blue this year, both at home and on the road, your positive energy and enthusiasm is absolutely felt by our student-athletes. In my travels, I have heard countless envious comments about the large number of Bison fans in attendance at away competitions. Nobody in the Patriot League travels better than Bucknell!

I would also like to express a sincere “thank you” to each and every one of our Bison Club supporters. Your generous contributions to Bucknell Athletics through the Bison Club directly impact our more than 700 student-athletes and their programs. We rely heavily on fundraised dollars in order to achieve our mission of providing the premier Division I scholar-athlete experience. Our coaches and student-athletes are so grateful for your support.

If you have considered joining the Bison Club but have not yet given in 2013, there is still time to make your tax-deductible gift before the end of the year. You can donate ONLINE, or contact Todd Newcomb, Tom Harvey or Terry Conrad.

  • Todd Newcomb, Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs/Bison Club Director: 570-577-1771 or tnewcomb@bucknell.edu.
  • Tom Harvey, Director of Athletics Development: 570-577-3459 or teharvey@bucknell.edu.
  • Terry Conrad, Assistant Director of Athletics Development: 570-577-3200 or tconrad@bucknell.edu.

And finally, I must offer special thanks to our Bison coaches, staff and student-athletes for all that they do to represent Bucknell with class both on and off the playing fields. In 2013, Bucknell won the Patriot League Presidents’ Cup for the 18th time in 23 years, and we ranked No. 1 in the nation in student-athlete graduation rate. We crowned All-Americans (Mike Muscala, Lenny Joseph, David Dickson, Mayowa Alli, Tracey Smith) and Academic All-Americans (Mike Muscala, Caroline Tolli, Joe Meyer). We won championships on the field, and we crushed the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate standards.       

As you can see, Bucknell student-athletes are getting it done both athletically and academically. All of that hard work led to an outstanding fall season, and the winter teams are also off to strong starts as well.

I was really impressed with the manner in which coach Joe Susan and the Bison football team stayed the course after a rash of injuries led to some tough times early in the season. After a dominating season-opening victory over a Marist team that finished 8-3 and won a share of the Pioneer Football League championship, those injuries and some untimely turnovers helped contribute to a four-game losing streak. But a narrow road win at Dartmouth got the team back on track, and that was followed by back-to-back historic wins over Lehigh and Colgate. The 48-10 Homecoming victory over Lehigh snapped a 15-year losing streak to the Mountain Hawks, and the 28-7 win over the Raiders gave the Bison their first win in Hamilton since 1999.

Highlighted by those two signature victories over Lehigh and Colgate, the Bison won five of their last six games to finish 6-5 overall, and we finished in a tie for second place in the Patriot League with a 3-2 conference record. Even though a number of key seniors will be missed, including four-year starting quarterback Brandon Wesley, six of Bucknell’s seven All-Patriot League players will be returning next year.  

Bucknell made postseason appearances in field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s water polo this fall. Jeremy Cook’s field hockey squad played five nationally ranked teams in an incredibly difficult schedule, and back in September they came up with a thrilling overtime victory at Ohio State. The Bison qualified for the Patriot League Tournament as the No. 3 seed but dropped a close 1-0 contest to league newcomer Boston University.

Brendan Nash’s men’s soccer team finished the year with 13 wins, the second-most in program history. Led by Third Team All-American Mayowa Alli and two of the league’s top goal-scorers in Jesse Klug and Chris Thorsheim, the Bison secured a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal home game and knocked out American by a 3-1 count at Emmitt Field at Holmes Stadium. Bucknell had been undefeated on the road (8-0-1) heading into the semifinal round, but top-seeded and eventual champion Navy held on for a 1-0 win in Annapolis to end a terrific season for the Bison.

The women’s soccer squad, led by coach Ben Landis, also made the Patriot League Tournament as the No. 6 seed. The Bison dropped a heartbreaker at Colgate in the quarterfinals. After 110 minutes of even play, the Raiders prevailed 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout.

John McBride’s men’s water polo team was nationally ranked for much of the season. The Bison finished 14-11 and 5-3 in the CWPA Southern Division. One of the highlights of the season was a four-game weekend sweep of league foes Navy, George Washington, Johns Hopkins and Princeton at Kinney Natatorium. The Bison later fell to Navy 9-8 in the Southern Division championship game, and at the CWPA Championships they were eliminated in the semifinals by a strong St. Francis team.

Sophomore Nick Bybel made some history this fall, becoming the first Bucknell men’s tennis student-athlete to be invited to the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla. Nick won his first-round match over Cedric de Zutter from Memphis. The Bison men’s and women’s tennis teams both did well in tournament play this fall, and now we are excited to welcome Craig Schwartz back to Bucknell as our interim head men’s tennis coach, where he will work closely with head women’s coach and director of tennis Rebecca Helt.

As we transition into the thick of the winter season, we have already seen some outstanding performances. Perhaps inspired by the football team’s streak-busting win over Lehigh, the men’s basketball team did the same against Penn State in the second game of the year. Led by a 25-point night from point guard Steven Kaspar, the Bison won 90-80 to end a 12-game losing streak to the Nittany Lions dating back to 1976.

Coach Dave Paulsen’s squad has also suffered a pair of narrow four-point defeats on the road against Stanford and St. John’s, but the squad won consecutive games over Kent State and Columbia to head into the final exam break at 5-4. Only two contests remain before the start of Patriot League play on Jan. 2 against American.

Coach Aaron Roussell continues to lead the women’s basketball program in a positive direction. The Bison hit the break at 4-5, with the average margin of their victories at almost 24 points per game. Of the five losses, three came against major conference foes in Pittsburgh (ACC), Virginia Tech (ACC) and Penn State (Big Ten). The Bison travel down to Longwood on Saturday for their final non-conference game of the year.

The wrestling and swimming & diving teams also turned in some historic victories early in their seasons. Dan Wirnsberger’s grapplers went into Lehigh’s jam-packed Grace Hall and stunned the 18th-ranked Mountain Hawks 18-17. It was Bucknell’s first dual-meet victory over Lehigh in program history. The Bison host 12th-ranked Pittsburgh on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. in Davis Gym, and the dual can be seen free of charge on Bison Vision on the Patriot League Network.

On Nov. 9 at Kinney Natatorium, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both swept quadrangular meets from Patriot League rivals, Navy, Lafayette and American. The Bison men defeated Navy 152-148, handing the Midshipmen their first Patriot League dual-meet loss ever! Navy has been competing in the Patriot League in men’s swimming since 2003-04, but even dating back to the league’s inception in 1990-91, the Mids had been 46-0 against Patriot League programs. Meanwhile, Navy’s women had won 34 straight duals against Patriot League foes since last falling to Bucknell in 2005-06. Congrats to coach Dan Schinnerer and his staff on this outstanding accomplishment.

Kevin Donner’s indoor track and field teams opened the 2013-14 season with a home meet in Gerhard Fieldhouse two weeks ago. The non-scored competition featured a number of terrific performances, most notably a pair of school records in the 60-meter hurdles and 300-meter dash by junior Christian Lupica. Don’t forget, Bucknell will be hosting the Patriot League Indoor Track & Field Championships on Feb. 21-23.

Each of Bucknell’s winter teams seem to have a solid chance to contend for a conference title in 2014, and I hope you will be able to follow them in person or on the newly redesigned BucknellBison.com. In addition to the new site, the launch of the Patriot League Network has been met with rave reviews. We have been able to upgrade our equipment in order to present live, HD-quality webcasts of many of our home events, and we have many more in store for you this winter and spring. Every Patriot League men’s and women’s basketball contest, home and away, will be webcast on the PLN. And the best part is that you can watch everything free of charge!

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday and a wonderful New Year! Take care … and GO BISON!

All the best,

John Hardt Signature

John Hardt

Director of Athletics and Recreation

Bucknell University