May 3, 2012
Patriot League Championship Central
In the Herd: Patriot League Championships Preview
LEWISBURG, Pa. - It's not often that a class has the chance to go undefeated in conference championships, but Bucknell women's track and field seniors will attempt to pull off that very feat this weekend when the Bison head to the Patriot League Championships in Worcester, Mass., May 4-5. Bucknell's title defense begins at 9 a.m. on Friday at the Hart Turf Complex.
Bucknell has won each of the league's last three outdoor titles. Should the Bison maintain their streak, they will collect four consecutive outdoor championships for the third time in program history. They also accomplished the feat in 1999-2002 and 2004-07.
The Orange & Blue are looking for second kind of sweep as well. After winning the Patriot League Indoor Championships in February. Bucknell has swept the league's track and field championships eight times in program history with the most recent coming in 2010. They are also hoping, with some help from the Bison men's squad, to become the first Patriot League school to sweep both championships in the same year since Army monopolized the team trophies from 1994-97.
Helping its cause, Bucknell has a handful of returning 2011 individual outdoor champions. Among them are Leah Goeke (Garnet Valley, Pa./Garnet Valley) in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, Jennifer Zymet (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) in the 400 meters and all four members of the 4x100 relay.
"Our women are healthy and seem to be peaking at the right time," said Kevin Donner, who has been named the Patriot League Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons, bringing his career total on the women's side to six. "Winning indoors was fantastic, but it took its toll on us mentally and physically for about 4-5 weeks. However we do seem to be rounding back into form at the right time of the outdoor season, and we expect to be contending for the title.
"Navy has a great team that will contend for the team title, and we expect Lehigh to be in the hunt as well."
- Bucknell has a nice mix of veterans and youth to give it strength in the sprints. Among the experienced runners is Sasha Hornock (Dover, Pa./Dover), who placed second in the 100 and fourth in the 200 at last year's championship meet. While her time of 12.37 seconds in the 100-meter final a year ago was one of the best times of her career, her preliminary mark of 12.33 was even better. She has since improved her personal record to 12.31 seconds, which ranks seventh all-time at Bucknell. The performance came at the Bison Outdoor Classic earlier this spring.
- Although just a sophomore, Zymet returns as the defending champion in the 400 meters, a feat she accomplished with her then career-best time of 56.12 seconds. She also placed second in the 200 with a personal-best 24.91. That time still stands as the fourth-fastest in program annals.
- Hornock and Zymet have seen their share of success in the relays as well. The duo joined Emma Rice (West Roxbury, Mass./Boston Latin School) and Kim Nagotko (Mahwah, N.J./Mahwah) to break the school record (1:41.40) in the 4x200 earlier this spring. Taylor Funk (Mt. Pleasant, Pa./Mt. Pleasant Area), Zymet, Rice and Hornock have also established themselves as a consistent 4x100 unit. The quartet has raced together in five meets this season, has never placed worse than sixth and has won twice. At the 2011 Patriot League Championships, the 4x100 relay of Zymet, Funk, Christina Muccio (Andover, Mass./Andover) and Hornock took gold, setting the school record at 47.80.
- The Patriot League Rookie of the Week on April 9, Nagotko cracked the Bucknell record books last week at the Bloomsburg Maroon & Gold Invitational. The freshman finished the 100 meters in 12.37 seconds, giving her the 10th-fastest time in school history. Nagotko also posted strong finishes at the Bucknell Team Challenge where she was fifth in the 400 and second in the 200 with a career-best time of 25.41 seconds.
- Anchoring the hurdles this year will be Funk. The senior placed third in both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles at the last league meet, setting career bests in both events in the process. Her time of 14.47 in the 100 hurdles still stands as the third-fastest at Bucknell.
- Funk's 400 hurdle time of 1:03.97 from last year's championships was also among the top 10 at Bucknell until this year when she improved that mark to 1:02.43 at the Bucknell Team Challenge. That ranks third in program history as well and gives her the fastest time in the Patriot League this season.
- Allison Daley (Menlo Park, Calif./Burlingame) and Chelsea Lodato (Matawan, N.J./Old Bridge) add some depth at the longer hurdle race. The duo went 1-2, respectively, in the 400 hurdles at last weeks' Maroon & Gold Invite.
- Bucknell should find plenty of points in the 800 meters this year as this spring Hana Casalnova (Grove City, Pa./Grove City), Beth Braunegg (Williamsport, Pa./Loyalsock Twp.) and Caroline Tolli (Lockport, N.Y./Lockport) have each recorded three of the program's fastest times. They currently rank third, fifth and sixth, respectively, on the record ledger, making them the fastest Bison since Christa Sawko set the school record (2:08.98) in 2006.
- Casalnova, who ran a then-career best to place fourth in the 800 meters at last year's championship meet, has two wins in the event this spring. The sophomore's best finish came at the Bucknell Team Challenge where she clocked in with a time of 2:10.70. It was the second consecutive meet in which she had recorded a new program top-10 time in the 800. The first came at the Bison Outdoor Classic, a meet in which she also earned the fourth-fastest 1,500-meter mark in program history.
- Each of Casalnova's two 800-meter victories came at Braunegg's expense. Braunegg was runner-up to her teammate at the Towson Invitational and the Bucknell Team Challenge this season. The team challenge saw her cross the line in 2:11.74 to give her a personal record.
- Braunegg placed seventh in the 1,500 and 12th in the 800 at the 2011 Patriot League Outdoor Championships. The sophomore's top 1,500-meter time came at this year's Bison Outdoor Classic (4:35.93).
- The veteran of the trio, Tolli was 13th in the 800 at the championships a year ago. Now a junior, she has been putting up some of the best times of her career. In the last three meets, she has set PRs in the 800 meters twice and in the 1,500. She currently ranks sixth all-time at Bucknell in the 800 (2:12.02) and fifth in the 1,500 (4:31.18).
- Bucknell's lone defending champion in the distance events is Goeke, who won the steeplechase with a career-best time of 11:03.44 last spring. The junior has a season best this spring of 11:05.94. Kelly Grosskurth (Huntington Station, N.Y./Half Hallow Hills East) was runner-up to Goeke in 2011.
- Although she missed out on the individual titles last year, Stephanie Fulmer (Pottstown, Pa./St. Pius X) is no stranger to gold medals. The senior is a three-time conference champion outdoors and has won six All-Patriot League citations in both indoor and outdoor track.
- At Tuesday's 51st Annual Bucknell Athletics Senior Awards Recognition, Fulmer received the Christy Mathewson Award. The evening's top honor is presented "to the outstanding senior athlete."
- Emily Liggett (Grosse Point, Mich./Lawrenceville School (N.J.)) was also honored on Tuesday with the Ronald J. "Pete" Pedrick Award for her continuous improvement throughout her career. The Bison are hoping the senior will continue that upward trajectory this weekend. Since placing fourth in the 1,500 and fifth in the 5,000 at last year's championships, Liggett has continued to climb up the record books. This spring she claimed the third-fastest times in the 5,000 (17:05.91) and 3,000 (9:45.55) as well as the eighth-fastest in program history in the 1,500 (4:33.98). Each of those marks came in consecutive meets with the most recent being her 3,000-meter performance at the Penn Relays where her career-best time gave her an 11th-place finish.
- When Bucknell claimed a third consecutive team trophy last spring, more than 22 percent of its points came from the throws events. The Bison totaled 42 points in the javelin, shot put and discus. Few events were as success as the javelin, where recent graduate Laura Rycek earned her first career title after three straight years of placing second, Tayler Siegrist (Madison, N.J./Madison) was third and Kat Folger (Groton, Mass./Bishop Guertin) was fourth.
- This season, Folger is ranked 11th in the NCAA East Region and first in the Patriot League. Her top mark of the year came at the Bucknell Team Challenge where she was second overall. Her throw of 156 feet, 6 inches is third in program history as well.
- Siegrist enters the 2012 Patriot League Championships with the conference's second-best javelin throw this season. That mark of 141-8 was set at the Bison Outdoor Classic. The junior has finished among the top five in the javelin in three of her five meets this year.
- After winning the shot put at the Patriot League Championships as a freshman and placing second to teammate Chelsey Musante as a sophomore, Bison fans were surprised to see Sarah Bella (Mendham, N.J./West Morris Mendham) take the year off as a junior. Now in her final campaign, she is back and poised to recapture a spot at the top of the podium. With a top season mark of 44-6, Bella has the league's best distance this spring.
- Few Bison have seen their names among the leaders on the championship leader board for as long as Rebecca Misko (Morristown, N.J./Madison). Misko was the discus champion in 2010, then placed second in both the discus and shot put in 2011. Some of Misko's best career marks came at the league meet a year ago as well. The senior threw 152-11 in the discus, which still stands as the third-best throw in Bucknell history, and 43-5 ½ in the shot put, which is currently seventh in program annals. Her hammer throw mark of 139-0 is also a career best.
- This season, Misko's leading discus mark came at the Bucknell Team Challenge where she placed second to teammate Abby Monaghan (La Plata, Md./La Plata) with a throw of 150-5.
- Monaghan is looking to score in the discus for a second consecutive year after placing fourth at the 2011 championships. Her throw of 144-8 was a career best at the time. Since then, Monaghan has moved up the ranks to fourth in the record books with a personal-best 151-9. This spring, the junior won the Bucknell Team Challenge, placed second at the Towson Invite and, most recently, placed fifth at the Penn Relays.
- Kathryn Wahls (Spencerport, N.Y./Brockport) experienced something of a breakthrough in the hammer throw last weekend. The junior broke the 160-foot barrier for the first time in her career. With a throw of 162-5, she placed second at the meet and made her debut in the program record books by tying for 10th all-time with Liz Pendleton.
- Wahls just missed scoring in the hammer throw at last year's championships, placing seventh. She was also 13th in the shot put.
- Bella and Misko were both recognized at the Bucknell Athletics Senior Recognition Dinner on Tuesday. Bella received the Bison Club Award, presented to senior athletes "who best exemplify the winning spirit of the University's athletic program." Misko received the Bryan-Humphreys Award, presented to senior athletes "who have exhibited exceptional versatility within his/her sport, displaying outstanding achievement and the selfless determination to help the team succeed by contributing in a number of ways."
- Options are plentiful for the Bison in the pole vault. Emily Ando (Weston, Conn./Weston) and Autumn Schellenberger (Bethel, Ohio/Bethel Tate) are now ranked in the top five all-time at Bucknell after clearing 11-7 ¾, and Yanelis Mestre (Westborough, Mass./Noble and Grennough) and Kristin Sundy (Chapel Hill, N.C./Durham Academy Upper School) are tied for sixth in program annals at 11-1 ¾.
- Ando, who placed fourth in the pole vault at last year's championships, has two wins in 2012, while Schellenberger captured the first victory of her career at the Bucknell Team Challenge. Schellenberger did not compete at the league meet in 2011.
- Ando was a surprise placer in the high jump at the 2011 Patriot League Championships. After not competing in the event at all during the regular season, she tied for sixth at the league meet, clearing 5-3. She has competed twice in the high jump this spring, again with a best height of 5-3.
- Alexandra Romanelli (Galloway, N.J./Absegami) has emerged as one of Bucknell's top horizontal jumpers this season. She cracked the program top 10 in the triple jump earlier this spring, recording a mark of 38-0 ¼ at the Bison Outdoor Classic. A year ago, Romanelli was fourth in the Patriot League triple jump and 10th in the long jump with season-best marks in both.
- Bucknell newcomer Jessica Matsinger (Frazer, Pa./Great Valley) could also make some noise in the triple jump and long jump this weekend. The freshman's top marks this spring have been 17-1 ¼ in the long jump and 36-11 in the triple. Both came at the Outdoor Classic in mid-April.
After the Patriot League Championships, Bucknell will look to the ECAC Championships to be held May 11-13 in Princeton, N.J.