Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championship Preview

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Gerhard Fieldhouse, Bucknell University
Gerhard Fieldhouse, Bucknell University

Feb. 15, 2012

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2012 Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championship Main Page

-- The 2012 Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships will begin at noon Friday and continue through till Sunday at Gerhard Fieldhouse on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa.

It's the first indoor championship at Gerhard Fieldhouse since 2008 when the Navy men and the Bucknell women won titles.

The Navy men and women enter the 2012 meet as the defending champions after pulling off the dramatic sweep in Annapolis, Md., this season. The Navy women cruised to their third title in program history with 157 points, while the Navy men won the final two relay events to surge past Army and claim the top spot with 171 points. It was Navy's fourth title, with all four coming in the last eight years.

The host Bucknell Bison swept the 2011 Outdoor Championships and they'll look to defend their home track this weekend. The Bucknell men are the only other League team outside of Army and Navy to have won titles, but it was three straight titles from 1991-93. The Bucknell women, on the other hand, have won 13 titles and will look to extend their League record to 14.

Bucknell, Lehigh and Navy enter the men's championship listed in the USTFCCCA Regional rankings, while Navy is ranked on the women's side.

Navy owns the highest ranking in the men's Mid-Atlantic Region poll at No. 8, while Bucknell is No. 9 and Lehigh is No. 11. The Navy women are ranked 14th.

The Navy women were selected to repeat in the Patriot League Preseason Poll, while the Army men edged out Navy in the preseason poll. Army almost edged out Navy in the championship meet last season, but Navy's Cody Rome helped spark a comeback to remember.

Rome returns for the men having posted the Patriot League's best times in the 3,000 and the 5,000 this season. He's also second in the mile. For all the top times and marks in the Patriot League, click here.

In 2011, Rome won the 3,000 (8:07.51) to get the Mids back into the title hunt, and less than 45 minutes later, he was on the track competing on Navy's winning distance medley relay team.

Navy, which led by 43 points over Army after the mile run, fell behind by as many as 32 points before cutting it to 153-151 heading into the meet's final two events -- the distance medley relay and the 1,600-meter relay. The Mids took care of business in both, winning the DMR to tie the score with Army at 161 and blew past the Black Knights in the 1,600-meter relay to win 171-165.

The women's meet was less dramatic at the end because the Mids won nine events to outscore second-place Bucknell by 40 points. A big reason for the large margin of victory was the Outstanding Track Athlete of the Meet, then junior Jess Palacio.

The senior distance runner has won three Outstanding Track Athlete of the Meet awards -- two outdoor and one indoor -- and she is coming off her first individual Patriot League cross country title. Heading into the championships, Palacio has the nation's 14th-best time in the mile this season, which has her on the edge of qualifying for the NCAA Championship. Her time of 4:38.43 was just 1.43 seconds away from the automatic qualifying standard, but if she remains in the top 14 in the nation, she'll earn an invite to the championship. Palacio enters the meet after winning titles in the 800, mile and 3,200 relay last season.

Bucknell enters the meet with a field athlete who has been dominant on the men's side. Senior Tom Barr set a new single-season record with six weekly awards after posting multiple IC4A performances in the shot put and the weight throw. His best in the shot put was a distance of 54-11¼ and his top distance in the weight throw was 63-9½. He was the 2011 individual champion in the shot put last season and he finished fourth in the weight throw.

The Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships will open with the heptathlon and pentathlon at noon on Friday, followed by field events Saturday morning. The events will continue through Sunday until the awards ceremony at 5 p.m. Sunday. For the full schedule, click here.