Nationally Ranked Foes Await Bucknell Cross Country at Paul Short Invite
Sept. 29, 2011
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell cross country will face some of its toughest competition of the season when it heads to Lehigh for the Paul Short Memorial Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa., on Friday. The Bison, which will compete in the Gold division races beginning at 11 a.m., will contend with nearly a dozen nationally ranked squads on the same course that will play host to the Patriot League Championships next month. The college open races will begin on a staggered start at 10 a.m.
Headlining the women's field will be Georgetown, ranked first in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Regional and National polls. The nation's third-ranked Providence and fifth-ranked Villanova, as well as top-20 teams Syracuse and Virginia will also race in the Gold division.
The Bucknell women, which were selected eighth for the second consecutive week in the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic poll, are just one of 11 teams from the region's top 15 that will appear at the invitational. The Bison are two spots behind Navy and three ahead of Lehigh. Bucknell will face both of those Patriot League foes as well as Army and Colgate.
"We have a veteran women's team that has a lot of big meet experience," said head coach Kevin Donner. "This is one of the most competitive meets in the nation with many high ranked teams. We have raced the Paul Short Invitational many times over the years, and I believe this is the best field ever. It will be exciting to see how we match up with the other Patriot League schools as well as most of the Mid-Atlantic regional schools."
The Bison men's squad will have its share of Patriot League competition as well as American, Army, Lehigh and Navy will also compete in the Gold race. Of that group, the Mids have the highest Mid-Atlantic ranking at No. 5. All of them will have to contend with Princeton, Villanova and Georgetown, which hold the region's top three spots, respectively.
When Bucknell competed at the 2010 Paul Short Memorial Invitational, the women took 14th in a field of 41 teams, while the men were 40th. Helping the women's squad to its third consecutive top-15 team placing were a trio of top-100 individual finishes from Sarah Moniz, Stephanie Fulmer (Pottstown, Pa./St. Pius X) and Alysha Hooper (Meaford, Ontario/St. Mary's). Fulmer was 59th overall, followed by Hooper in 95th. If 2011's trend continues on Friday, Hooper should move up in the standings along with classmate Emily Liggett (Grosse Pointe, Mich./The Lawrenceville School (N.J.)). Hooper and Liggett have registered identical times in each of their first two meets - 17:37 at the Bucknell Open and 18:26 at Duquesne. Hooper just edged out Liggett at the finish line both times.
While the men struggled at last year's Paul Short, the Bison will have a very new look to its top seven in 2011. Only three of the team's top seven return this fall. Robert Yamnicky (Shelton, Conn./Shelton) was third on the squad a year ago, while D.J. Krystek (Pitcairn, Pa./Gateway Senior) and Dave Brown (Westborough, Mass./Westborough) were sixth and seventh, respectively. Brown has been the Bison's top finisher at both the Bucknell Open and Duquesne dual meet earlier this month, and Krystek has been among the top six in both meets as well.
"Our men will be looking to make up for last year when we had a rough race. We are much improved over last year. However this could be one of the most competitive meets we have run over the past five years," said Donner." The guys are excited and the workouts have been going very well."
Bucknell will look to get another race under its belt on Oct. 8. The Bison will head to Saint Francis (Pa.) for the Father Bede Invitational.