Setting the Scene
What: Bison Open (Bucknell - Juniata - Susquehanna)
When: Friday, Sept. 2 – 6:00 p.m. (Women), 6:40 p.m. (Men)
Where: West Fields, Lewisburg, Pa.
About the Bison (Women)
>> The Bison return All-Patriot League honorees Christine Bendzinski, Sarah Chandler, Christine O’Kane and Kate Scott from last year’s championship team.
>> Chandler earned All-Region honors a season ago, becoming the first Bison to earn the citation since 2006.
About the Bison (Men)
>> The Bison men return seniors Luke Giugliano, Jordan Jackson, Benjamin Mueller, Ross Pirnie, Matthew Taddeo and Louis Tobias.
>> Bucknell’s men’s team will have a more youthful roster in 2016 with the addition of 11 first-year runners.
Scouting Juniata (Women)
>> Juniata was picked to finish fourth in the Landmark Preseason Poll.
>> The Eagles welcome back Allyson Kopera and Yanibel Collado, who earned All-Landmark honors last season.
Scouting Juniata (Men)
>> The Juniata men were picked third in the Landmark Preseason Poll.
>> The Eagles return senior Conor Dimond, who was a Second Team All-Landmark selection in 2015.
Scouting Susquehanna (Women)
>> The River Hawks were tabbed to finish third in the preseason poll.
>> Susquehanna returns five runners who placed in the top 30 at the championship meet.
Scouting Susquehanna (Men)
>> The Susquehanna men were picked second in the Landmark Preseason Poll.
>> The River Hawks lost their top three finishers from a season ago, but return two runners who finished in the top 30 of the conference championship meet.
>> Bucknell returns to action Sept. 10 to compete at the Detroit Titan Invitational at Cass Benton Park.
Below is an in-depth season preview.
Coming off another strong cross country season, the Bucknell women’s and men’s teams look to take a step forward in the 2016 season.
The Bison women captured their ninth Patriot League title in 2015. Bucknell returns four All-Patriot League runners, including three of the top four finishers at last year’s championship meet, giving head coach Kevin Donner optimism about a repeat.
“On paper, this team is probably the best team I’ve ever coached,” said Donner, the 2015 Patriot League Coach of the Year. “Our top three is as good of a top three as I ever had.”
Senior Kate Scott earned First Team All-Patriot League honors with a second-place finish at the championship race and carried that momentum into the track and field season. She won Patriot League and ECAC outdoor titles in the 10,000-meter, while qualifying for the NCAA East Preliminary Meet in the 5,000.
Christine Bendzinski looks to build upon a strong sophomore campaign. The 2014 Rookie of the Meet finished third at last year’s league championship to earn All-Patriot League honors, and won conference titles in the mile and 4x800 relay events. She won an individual ECAC title in the 1,500, while breaking the school record in the event, qualifying her for the NCAA East Preliminary Meet.
Senior tri-captain Sarah Chandler finished fourth at the cross country championship. The all-league selection also won Patriot League titles in the 1,000, 1,500, 4x800 and distance medley relay events. Christine O’Kane, who earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors with a 14th-place finish and qualified for the USATF Junior Nationals in the 5,000m, returns for her sophomore season.
The Bison also return tri-captains Elizabeth Sheprow and Kathleen Fitzgerald, along with fellow seniors Sarah Decker, Grace Loh and Seline Tan-Torres. Providing depth for Bucknell in 2016 are Colleen Buckley, Anna Chiodo-Ortiz, Jenna Farmer, Lauren Hazzard, Madison Narr, Morgan Price, Margaret Thomson, Tabitha Wismer, Emma Cousins, Emma Harris, Jamie Kenney, Lindsay Schafer, Brennan Sharkey and Delaney Worth.
“We have a good mix of veterans, good mix of young women coming up and our depth is as good as it’s ever been.”
The Bison women finished eighth out of 30 teams at last year’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, and with the amount of returners coming back in 2016, Donner believes his team can finish much higher in the standings.
“We’re not going to take the league meet for granted,” says Donner. “It’s a big honor to win a league championship, but we’re focused on the Mid-Atlantic Regional. We were eighth in the region last year and want to try to put ourselves in position to be a top four or five team and talk about the NCAA Championships. We think if there’s any team ready to do it, it’s this year’s team.”
Bucknell’s men’s team finished sixth last year, losing two of its top three finishers due to graduation. Returning from the group is junior Zach Williams, who had a solid performance with a 26th-place finish.
Ross Pirnie is back for his senior season following a strong junior campaign. He won the Patriot League title in the steeplechase, and was an IC4A qualifier in the mile. CoSIDA Academic All-American Luke Giugliano is back in 2016, after scoring in the 3,000 and 5,000-meter events at the indoor championships, while earning All-East honors with a runner-up finish in the 5,000 at the IC4A Championships.
The Bison return Jordan Jackson, Benjamin Mueller, Matthew Taddeo, Kyle Adams, Will Bordash, David Frering, Brian Babyak, Landin Delaney and Chad Sussman. Giugliano, Pirnie and Taddeo will each serve as tri-captains for the squad in 2016.
Bucknell will have a much more youthful roster this season with 11 incoming freshmen, including Brian Dengler, Terryl Ferrell, Brendan McGill, Nick Pacelli, Trent Rose, Charlie Scales, Matt Vira and James Weissenborn, along with Ben Siciliano, Drew Dorflinger and Jacob Stupak, who coach Donner believes will make an immediate impact.
“We have a pretty good nucleus to work with,” said Donner. “We have a good mix of veterans and freshmen that we’re excited about. We know we’re going to be better than we were a year ago. Last year, we had a pretty good season but had a couple setbacks that cost us a few spots at the Patriot League Championships. This year, we want to close the gap on Navy, who has won the last three Patriot League titles.”
The Patriot League Championships are set for Oct. 29 at Lafayette’s Kamine Varsity House. The Mid-Atlantic Regional will be held at Penn State on Nov. 11. The Bison have a regular-season race schedule on both courses.