Setting the Scene
What: Bison Open
Teams: Bucknell, Juniata, Loyola (Md.), Lycoming, Susquehanna
When: Friday, Sept. 1 – 6:20 p.m.
Where: Lewisburg, Pa.
About the Bison
* Bucknell is ranked sixth in the Mid-Atlantic Region in the first regional rankings of the season. The Bison are ranked right behind Penn State and one spot ahead of Duquesne.
* The Bison return 18 letterwinners and lost six from last season’s team, which finished fifth at the Patriot League Championships.
* Senior Will Bordash earned Second Team All-Patriot League status last season.
* Also returning from the conference championships lineup are sophomore Drew Dorflinger, sophomore Jacob Stupak, junior Chad Sussman, senior Zach Williams, and sophomore Ben Siciliano.
* Bucknell took the top 13 spots at the Bison Open last season. Dorflinger was second, and Siciliano took third.
* In preparation for Bucknell hosting the 2018 Patriot League Championships, the setup of the home course has been changed from past years. Check the link at the top of this article for a view of the course map.
Scouting the Opponents
* Juniata was the runner-up at the 2016 Landmark Conference Championships but lost individual champion Conor Dimond to graduation. The Eagles were picked to finish second again this season.
* Loyola (Md.) finished ninth at the 2016 Patriot League Championships. The Greyhounds’ top returning finisher is Alexander Saffadi (52nd).
* Lycoming took 11th at the 2016 Middle Atlantic Conference Championships. Quincy Ambile earned all-conference recognition with a 12th-place finish.
* Susquehanna was fifth at the 2016 Landmark Conference Championships. The top returning finisher for the River Hawks is Ciaran Fisher (15th).
* Bucknell will travel to Penn State to compete in the Spiked Shoe Invitational on Friday, Sept. 8.
The Bucknell men’s cross country team enters the 2017 season filled with potential. The Bison finished fifth at last year’s Patriot League Cross Country Championships, but eight points separated second-place and fifth-place, giving head coach Kevin Donner’s squad reason for optimism heading into the fall.
The Bison men ended the year on a high note, finishing sixth among 22 teams at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, the team’s highest finish since 1998.
Bucknell returns its top runner from a season ago – Will Bordash – who earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors last season with a 10th-place finish. A team co-captain in 2017, Bordash also received All-Region recognition at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional in 2016, placing among the top-20 runners.
“Will had a great year in cross country,” commented Donner. “If he can continue at the rate he has, he could be in the running for a national berth, which I believe he has the talent to do.”
Three of Bucknell’s top six runners – Drew Dorflinger, Jacob Stupak and Ben Siciliano – were rookies last season and look to take the next step in 2017. Dorflinger finished 18th at the league championships, building off his cross country momentum with strong indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
“Drew had a very outstanding freshman year,” said Donner. “He began to establish himself during the cross country season and really took off as the year continued.
Stupak finished 19th, while Siciliano finished 38th among the 106-person field, as Donner expects both runners to improve in their sophomore seasons.
Chad Sussman, who was solid in 2016 with a 28th-place showing, returns for his junior season.
“Chad is a guy that has really developed nicely,” noted Donner. “I think he has another level, and if he can stay healthy, he has an opportunity to be a big factor on this year’s team.”
Bucknell also returns Kyle Adams, a two-year team captain, David Frering, Landin Delaney, Brian Babyak, James Weissenborn, Matt Vira, Charlie Scales, Trent Rose, Nick Pacelli, Brendan McGill, Terryl Ferrel, Brian Dengler, providing the team with plenty of depth.
“Kyle is now a two-year captain, and we don’t get too many of those at Bucknell,” said Donner. “He’s more of a middle distance guy, but he’s really been working on his versatility so he can handle longer distances.”
“We had a very solid season last year, but we think we can be better,” commented Donner. “We’re going to work on fighting off inconsistencies and if we can become a more consistent team, we can be really good. We can be a team that is capable of contending for a Patriot League title. This is the first time in a long time that our men are going into the season with a chance at winning a Patriot League championship.”
The Patriot League Championships are set for Oct. 28 at Lehigh’s Goodman Campus Course. The Bison will return to that same course on Nov. 10 for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.