Bucknell wins second consecutive Patriot League championship by 50 points
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- After leading by fewer than two points on the second day of the Patriot League Indoor Track & Field Championships, Bucknell extended its advantage in the finale, winning its second consecutive title at Gillis Field House on Sunday. The Bison, which now have 16 Patriot League Indoor Track & Field titles in program history, topped its closest competitor by more than 50 points, powered by individual gold medals from Sophia Nnadi, Caroline Tolli, Jennifer Zymet and Alexandra Romanelli.
At the end of day two and with six events complete, Bucknell led Lehigh by just 1.67 points. The Bison grew their lead after competition resumed on Sunday, going up by nearly 50 points on the Mountain Hawks after the 17th event. With the Mountain Hawks fading down the stretch, Bucknell ultimately finished with 162 points and Navy was second at 110. Lehigh finished third with 106.33 points and Army rounded out the top four with 84.33. Holy Cross (74), Lafayette (47.33) and Colgate (36) completed the field.
"Our ladies had a very blue collar and business-like approach to this weekend's meet," head coach Kevin Donner said. "We scored in all 20 events, which really shows our balance. We really came around as a team the past two months after a rough fall and I could not be more proud."
Bucknell got a quick boost right out of the gates as Tolli won the mile, the first completed event on Sunday. Tolli clocked in at 5:02.48 and just behind her was teammate Beth Braunegg in 5:02.88, taking second place.
With her win in the mile, Tolli now has two Patriot League titles in as many years. She also won the 1,000 meters a year ago. On Sunday, she just missed defending her title in that race, placing second (2:56.44). Once again, Braunegg was close behind in fourth (2:57.05).
The 1-2 punch in the mile gave the Bison a 13.67-point cushion against Lehigh, but just one point in the 60-meter hurdles from Chrissy Haney (9.46) dropped it down to less than one point. Sasha Hornock and Kim Nagotko finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 60 meters, and Jess Bridle was fifth in the 400, but that still left Bucknell's lead at a slim 1.67 points.
Following the 400, Zymet took the gold in the 500 meters and Sophia Nnadi won the shot put, putting Bucknell in front by nearly 15 points. Zymet clocked in at 1:16.45 to earn her first individual league title indoors.
Just one week after breaking the 40-foot barrier for the first time in her career, Nnadi threw a career-best 43-11 ¾ for the shot put win. Bucknell has now taken gold in the even in each of the last four years with Nnadi following in the footsteps of Chelsey Musante (2010) and Sarah Bella (2011-12).
Bucknell's lead in the team standing continued to increase with each passing event. Romanelli added 10 points with her win in the triple jump with a mark of 38-0 ¾. While it was her first-ever league victory, it is her second All-League performance in the event as she placed second in both the triple and long jumps at the championships a year ago.
Autumn Schellenberger and Yanelis Mestre kept up the success in the field events, finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault. Both cleared 11-9 ¾. It was the first time reaching that height in Mestre's career, and both are now tied for fifth in program history with the mark.
Back on the track, Nagotko took third in the 200 (25.20) followed by Zymet in fourth (25.37). Katie Jessee, who was fourth in Saturday's 5,000-meter race, again took fourth on Sunday in the 3,000 meters. The sophomore finished in 10:02.65.
Hana Casalnova was third in the 800 (2:14.40) before anchoring the distance medley relay to a second-place finish in 12:12.68. That runner-up finish in the relay gave Bucknell a 50-point lead with only the 4x400 remaining. Although they didn't need the points, the Bison took third in the final race with Hornock, Bridle, Nagotko and Zymet combining for a time of 3:54.79.