BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- They did it again. Backed by two-time champion Christine Bendzinski, the Bucknell women's cross country team won the Patriot League championship for the third year in a row on Saturday at Lehigh. Bendzinski covered the 6K course in 20:52 to become Bucknell’s third multiple champion, and the Bison claimed the team title for the 11th time in the 28-year history of the Patriot League.
While the senior Bendzinski won gold for the second year in a row, there was plenty of orange near the front of the race. Juniors Colleen Buckley, Jenna Farmer, Margaret Thomson and Anna Chiodo-Ortiz turned in places 3-13-17-24.
That gave the Bison 58 points, 21 better than runner-up Army West Point with 79. Navy finished third with 88 points, followed by Lehigh (105), Holy Cross (119), American (125), Boston University (152), Loyola (240), Lafayette (241) and Colgate (288).
"Although it was not one of our better team races, I was still very happy for our women," said head coach Kevin Donner, who was named Patriot League Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year for the seventh time. "They had a lot of pressure on them about this meet all season based on our history and tradition. Having the two front runners really helped in Chrissy and Colleen in the top three. Jenna ran solid to finish 13th. Margaret had her typical second-half surge and passed a lot of runners, and Anna was our unsung hero and ran her best race of the season to nail down the team win. This win was a tough one and the two service academies and Lehigh gave us all we could handle. We will never take winning championships for granted and I am very proud of this team for handling this kind of physical and mental pressure."
Bendzinski became the seventh runner in Bucknell history to earn three All-Patriot League accolades in cross country and the first since Stephanie Fulmer in 2011. Other repeat champions were Julie Sweitzer in 1997-98, and Becki Marshall, who won three straight PL titles from 1990-2001.
Bendzinski held off Army's Abby Holbrook (20:55) by a little more than two seconds to win the title. Buckley was a close third in 20:56. American's Adriana Hooks and Holy Cross' Hannah Jeter rounded out the top five.
Buckley moved up one spot after finishing fourth last season. Farmer placed in the top-20 for the second year in a row and garnered Second Team All-Patriot League honors.
Bucknell’s 11 Patriot League titles are by far the most in the conference. Army West Point is second with five.
The Bison will be right back at the Lehigh course on Nov. 10 for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.