LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell track and field returns to Gerhard Fieldhouse on Saturday to host the annual Bucknell Heptagonal. The Bison will welcome Duquesne, East Stroudsburg, Lincoln University, Shippensburg, Saint Francis (Pa.) and Towson to their home track with competition getting underway at 10 a.m.
"The Heptagonal will be a fantastic team-oriented meet for both the men's and women's fields," said head coach Kevin Donner. "This type of meet will expose our teams' strengths and weaknesses as we get closer to the championship indoor meets."
Donner expects a competitive meet on the men's side this weekend. "Shippensburg has a very well-balanced team on the men's side and will give us great competition. Duquesne's men are loaded in the middle and long distance events and will score their share of points," said the head coach. "Saint Francis, East Stroudsburg and Lincoln all have some great individual athletes who will contend for some big points."
For the third consecutive year, Bucknell was picked third in the Patriot League Preseason Poll. The Bison had 75 points, trailing first-place Army (93 points) and second-place Navy (87). Those are the same teams to hold the top three spots for each of the past three years, as the academies tied for number one in the previous two polls.
Robert Yamnicky (Shelton, Conn./Shelton) was named the Patriot League/M-F Athletic Rookie of the Week on Tuesday. Yamnicky finished fifth in the mile at the Akron Quad last week, and his time of 4:21.03 was a career best for the freshman. It was his first weekly honor of the indoor track season, although he was also named the league's top rookie last fall during cross country.
Nine individuals in 10 events and the 4x800 relay team have already punched their ticket for the IC4A Championship in March. Among them is Isaih Bell (Stone Mountain, Ga./Clarkston), who has qualified for both the 60 and 200 meters. Bell is not the only Bison who will be making an appearance in the 60, however, as Marlon Woods (Cincinnati, Ohio/Winton Woods) and Justin Hicks (Wilmington, Del./Tower Hill School) have also met the event standard.
Bucknell finished second at the Akron Quad, trailing the host Zips and finishing ahead of South Florida. Kyle Anthony (Barryville, N.Y./Eldred Central) continued his dominance in the triple jump, winning the event with a distance of 48-2. The senior is undefeated in the event through the season's first three meets.
Other Bison wins came from Jordan Donaldson (Saxton, Pa./Tussey Mountain) in the 500, Drew Fitzgerald (Ballston Spa, N.Y./Ballston Spa) in the high jump and Andrew Huebner (Hampton Falls, N.H./The Governor's Academy) in the 3,000 meters.
Donaldson also moved into sixth place on the Bucknell record list and qualified for the IC4A Championship in the 500 with his time of 1:04.74. Bell also recorded the fourth-fastest 200 time (22.16) in program annals. The 60-meter hurdle race saw some top marks for the Bison as well. Robert Arent (New Providence, N.J./New Providence) and Sean Coyne (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township) fourth and fifth, respectively, in the event.
The Bison won the 2008 edition of the Bucknell Heptagonal, helped by five individual and two relay victories. Every member of both relays and all but one of those individuals return this year.
Donner anticipates that this year's opponents will give the Bison a test on Saturday. "Shippensburg and Duquesne both have great teams this year. Shippensburg has improved quite a bit each of the past three years and is a force in the PSAC, and Duquesne is very much improved over the team they brought here two years ago," said Donner. "Our women will really have their work cut out for them if we want to defend our heptagonal crown."
Bucknell was again the number-one squad in the Patriot League Preseason Poll, earning that position for the sixth straight season. The Bison claimed 93 points, including 11 first-place votes. Navy, which won the Patriot League Indoor Track & Field Championship last season, was second with 89 points and five first-place votes.
Chelsey Musante (Shelton, Conn./Shelton) and Jennifer Pierce (Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J./Northern Highlands) both earned weekly honors from the Patriot League on Tuesday. Musante, who finished second in the shot put and third in the weight throw at the Akron Quad, was named the Patriot League/M-F Athletic Field Athlete of the Week. Musante also took the honor of top field athlete following the first week of competition this season and earned the title of Damon's Bison Athlete of the Week last week after breaking the school's shot put record. Pierce was selected Track Athlete of the Week after taking second in the 500 and helping the 4x400 relay to a second-place finish as well. It was the first award of Pierce's career.
With just over half the season remaining, the Bison have already qualified four athletes in five events for the ECAC Championship. Musante will be making the trip in the shot put and weight throw, while Pierce has qualified in the 500 meters, Rebecca Frey (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) in the pole vault and Sarah Bella (Mendham, N.J./West Morris Mendham) in the shot put.
Bucknell finished fourth at the Akron Quad last Friday, falling to Cincinnati, Akron and South Florida. Sarah Moniz (Topsfield, Mass./Maconomet Regional) won the mile at the Akron Quad. Her time of 5:05.98 gave the Bison their lone individual win of the meet.- Pierce and Sasha Hornock (Dover, Pa./Dover) each set top-10 marks in their respective events at the Zips' meet. Pierce's finish of 1:15.94 is now the seventh-fastest 500 time in Bucknell history, while Hornock improved to fourth all-time at Bucknell in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.99 seconds. The freshman scored in all three events in which she was entered, including the 60 meters, 200 and long jump.
The Orange and Blue won last year's Bucknell Heptagonal. Leading the way was Christina Muccio (Andover, Mass./Andover), who won both the 55-meter and 200-meter dashes. Stephanie Fulmer (Pottstown, Pa./St. Pius X) broke onto the Bucknell top-10 list in the mile with a win in 5:01.65. Bucknell also claimed victories in the 400, 4x400, pole vault and weight throw.
LOOKING AHEAD Bucknell will compete at two meets next weekend. In addition to sending some Bison to the Penn State National Invitational, the team will also host the Bison Open & Multi at Gerhard Fieldhouse. Both meets are two-day affairs, beginning Friday, Jan. 29.