EASTON, Pa. – Junior Billy Melchionni was voted the Track Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year while leading Bucknell men’s track and field to a solid third-place finish at the Patriot League Outdoor Championships on Saturday at the Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex.
Melchionni won both the 200- and 400-meter dashes and anchored the first-place 4x400 relay and the fourth-place 4x100 relay. He set a school record in the 200-meter dash – breaking his own record of 21.07 set in the prelims the previous day – with a time of 20.99 to become the first Bison runner to go under 21 seconds in the event. He is Bucknell’s first Patriot League champion in the 200m since 2013.
WOW! Billy Melchionni does it again! Earlier he won the 400, and now he explodes down the stretch to take gold in the 200. And he broke the school record in the process with a time of 20.99, making him the first in Bucknell history under 21 seconds! #rayBuknell pic.twitter.com/SNZPUrpq8p— Bucknell Track & XC (@Bucknell_TFXC) May 5, 2018
Melchionni’s time of 47.30 in the 400-meter dash was the second fastest in Bucknell history and gave him the title in the event for the second straight year. He cross the line ahead of the runner-up, Navy’s Eric Hughey, who finished in 47.86. Alex Dessoye added points in the event with a fifth-place showing, running the 10th-fastest time (48.63) in program history.
Billy Melchionni makes it back-to-back golds in the 400 meters! His winning time of 47.30 is a PR and improves his status as the No. 2 performer in school history behind Hall-of-Famer Thomas McLean. #rayBucknell pic.twitter.com/t1Zb1qRQ2A— Bucknell Track & XC (@Bucknell_TFXC) May 5, 2018
Capping the outstanding day for Melchionni and the Bison was the title in the 4x400 relay, the program’s first in the event since 2011. He was joined by Steve Rizio, Alex Dessoye, and Robert Dessoye to earn the gold medal with a time of 3:12.47, good enough for third on the program’s all-time list. The same four runners won the title for the Bison at this year’s Patriot League Indoor Championships.
Melchionni is just the second Bucknell runner to earn Track Athlete at the Meet at the Outdoor Championships in back-to-back seasons, joining Rob Arent (2010-11).
Bucknell had two runner-up finishes on the day, starting with Connor McMenamin in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He improved on his best time by nearly 10 seconds to complete the race in 9:09.79. McMenamin was the only freshman to finish in the top eight.
Nicholas Lombardo earned Bucknell’s other silver medal as he competed in his final Patriot League Championships in a prolific career for the Bison. He cleared 6-10 ¾ on his first attempt to take second in the high jump. Lombardo was the defending champion in the event. Also scoring was Steve Bolger with a fifth-place finish.
Lombardo added an eighth-place showing in the triple jump, but that event was highlighted by a third-place finish by Reggie Harris. The Bucknell junior tied Peter Legan (1980) for the seventh-best jump in program history with a leap of 47-6 ½.
Scott Gulizio was impressive in the 800-meter run, preventing a sweep by Army West Point in the event. The junior made a late pass in the final stretch to earn the bronze medal, clocking in at 1:52.27.
Bucknell’s third-place finish was its highest since also taking third in 2015 and put the team in the top four for the 12th consecutive season. The Bison tallied 114.5 points, finishing behind Navy (281) and Army West Point (217). Rounding out the nine-team field were Boston University (84), Lehigh (64.5), Lafayette (52), Holy Cross (21), American (12), and Colgate (10).
"Our men had a great meet, and I was very proud of how they were able to compete during the two days," Donner said. "Like the Indoor Championships, it was a moral victory because Boston had beaten us the past two years. We have a boatload of men going to IC4A next week, and we should have a few going to NCAA."
Next up for the Bison is the IC4A Championships, which will be held at Princeton on May 12-13.