NCAA Regional Championships on Tap for Bucknell Cross Country Saturday
Nov. 11, 2011
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell cross country has been idle since capping off October at the Patriot League Championships, but the lack of competition does not mean the Bison have been taking it easy. A pair of Academic All-Patriot League honors and a full schedule of training have led up to this weekend's NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships at Princess Anne, Md., on the campus of Maryland Eastern Shore. The men's 10-kilometer race is slated for a noon start, while the women's 6K race is set to get underway at 1:15 p.m.
The last time it was on the course, Bucknell overcame some snowy conditions at Lehigh to finish second (women) and fifth (men) at the Patriot League Championships. Caroline Tolli (Lockport, N.Y./Lockport) and Stephanie Fulmer (Pottstown, Pa./St. Pius X) were both named First Team All-Patriot League, while Emily Liggett (Grosse Pointe, Mich./Lawrenceville School (N.J.)) was a Second Team honoree on the women's side. Dave Brown (Westborough, Mass./Westborough) and John Dugan (Ramsey, N.J./Ramsey) were also Second Team selections for the Bison men.
Dugan was also voted the Patriot League Rookie of the Year after placing 13th overall and second among Bison. He became Bucknell's first Patriot League rookie honoree since the award began in 2004 and kept Navy from winning the award for a sixth consecutive year.
Fulmer wrote her name in the record books as well. The senior became the third Bison in program history to be named all-conference honors each of her four years, joining Theresa Dennis and Becki Marshall. After placing second and being named the Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2008, Fulmer went on to place sixth, sixth and seventh in her final three league meets.
After finishing second by a mere three points at the league championship meet, the Bucknell women's squad will look to make some noise in the NCAA regional race. The Bison moved up from 12th to eighth in the final U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Poll after their latest performance.
"Our women are peaking at the right time and are very hungry to use the momentum from a successful league meet to place high at the regional," said head coach Kevin Donner. "We would love to finish higher than we did last year. We have a few ladies who could be dark horses to qualify for NCAAs as individuals. If any of our top four have a big day, they could be in contention for a trip to Terre Haute."
Bucknell, which finished seventh out of 29 teams at last fall's regional meet, are competing in one of the toughest regions out there. The Mid-Atlantic's top-ranked team, Villanova, is also number two in the country, while the region's next three teams - Georgetown, West Virginia and Penn State - are also in the top 25 nationally. The Bison, led by Tolli, Fulmer, Liggett and Alysha Hooper (Meaford, Ontario/St. Mary's) will have their work cut out for them if they are to qualify for the National Championships set for Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Bucknell men's squad also has a challenge before them as it attempts to overcome the inexperience it has been battling all year as well as some recent injuries.
"After running a nice league meet, a couple of our better guys got injured. They could probably race; however, I want to be conservative and make sure they are healthy for the upcoming track and field season," said Donner. "We are running a very young and inexperienced team, but they are hungry to get the 10K experience and it would be nice to match our regional ranking."
The Bison men moved up to 12th place in the USTFCCCA regional poll, which was released on Oct. 31. Among the national contenders they will face on Saturday are the country's No. 9 team Princeton, No. 13 Villanova and No. 23 Georgetown.
Bucknell was 17th in the team standings at last year's regional meet, which was held at Penn State. Brown is the only Bison from that squad scheduled to compete again on Saturday. Now a senior, he was 83rd overall in 32:26. The last time the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships was held at Maryland Eastern Shore was in 2009, and no current Bison was among those seven competitors.
On the women's side, recent graduate Sarah Moniz led the Bison at the 2010 regional meet with a 35th-place finish. Just behind her in 36th was Fulmer, followed by Hooper in 67th. Hooper, Kelly Grosskurth (Huntington Station, N.Y./Half Hallow Hills East) and Melissa Smith (Mercer, Pa./Mercer Area) were the only current Bucknellians to compete on the Maryland Eastern Shore Golf Range/Cross Country Course in 2009. Hooper led that trio with a 71st-place outing.
Bucknell's final guaranteed meet on the schedule is the ECAC/IC4A Championships on Nov. 19. Races at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y., are set for a 9:30 a.m. start.