By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
The 2014 Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships get underway today at Bucknell’s Gerhard Fieldhouse where the Bison women’s team — the PL preseason top pick — attempts to defend its title.
The Bucknell women have won a record-setting 15 Patriot indoor championships — sweeping the indoor and outdoor titles last year, giving them 10 in the past 12 seasons.
Today’s portion of the PL meet, which starts at noon, features the women’s pentathlon and the first four events in the men’s heptathlon. The heptathlon concludes Saturday, as does the men’s and women’s weight throw, long jump and high jump in the field and finals in the 5,000 meters and 4x800 relays on the track. Also on Saturday are the trials of the 60-meter hurdles, 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash. The event concludes Sunday with the finals in the sprints and the remaining field events, relays and distance events.
The Bucknell men have won the last four PL outdoor championships and were runner-up by 23 points for the indoor title last year after collecting four individual titles and scoring in 19 of 20 events.
Luke Webster earned a gold medal on the final day as he set the school record in the shot put.
“It looks like us and Navy are competing for the championship this year and it looks like a pretty close meet,” Bucknell men’s and women’s coach Kevin Donner said. “Army and Boston University look to be the dark horses as they have very good teams on the men’s side.”
Bucknell’s Tyler Erhard, an East Juniata graduate majoring in mechanical engineering, was the PL runner-up last year in the 1,000 meters.
“Tyler is doing very good this year and he was one of our top steeple-chasers during the outdoor season last year,” Donner added. “He could be the one of the favorites in the 1,000 this year.”
According to Donner, Boston University’s women’s team seems to be the favorite on paper.
Bucknell’s Jennifer Zymet is the defending PL champion in the 500-meter dash, while teammate Sophia Nnadi is the defending champion in the shot put.
Alison Billas, a sophomore from Danville High, is a distance runner for the Bucknell women’s team.