Nov. 11, 2009
By Cynthia Iselin Bucknell '12
Imagine competing for rival schools throughout your high school athletic career knowing your rival only as that "other player." Envision finding out that you and that "other player" are soon-to-be college teammates. And not just one "other player," but two?
For Bison senior golfers Brian Bartow, Jeff Pike, and Andrew Cohen, this scenario was reality. All three student-athletes come from rival high schools in Westchester County, N.Y., just outside New York City. Cohen attended Mamaroneck High School, Bartow went to Rye Neck H.S. while Pike attended Rye H.S. However, these three men have made the best of the situation and have all helped lead the Bison strong finishes throughout their careers.
Last season, Cohen, Bartow and Pike ranked 1-2-3 in team scoring average, and all three are now considered among the top players in the Patriot League. In fact, all three have won Patriot League Player of the Month Awards over the last year, and all played exceptionally well with solid finishes in events this fall.
Cohen was the 2009 Patriot League champion with an impressive 71-68-69 at the West Point Golf Club last spring, and he was named the Golf World Collegiate Player of the Week after leading the Bison to their third team title in the last four years.
This fall, Cohen won the Bucknell Invitational and finished fourth or better in all five events in which he played. He broke the Bucknell single-season record with a 72.4 scoring average in the fall.
Bartow posted his first two career wins at the Colgate Invitational and Cornell Invitational, going a combined 1-under par at those two events. Pike posted a win in the fall of 2008 at the Bucknell Invitational with a 4-under 67-69.
Recently I had the chance to sit down with each of them and talk about how former rivals have helped Bucknell become one of the premier teams in the Northeast.
Q: Did knowing the other guys were coming to Bucknell have any effect on you coming, either positive or negative?
Pike: It definitely did, it was nice to know that I was coming into a place where I knew other guys from high school. I knew how good they were so I knew we would have a chance to compete. But more than anything it was nice to know that I would be comfortable and have some friends going in.
Cohen: I did my recruiting visit with Bartow so I knew he was really looking at the school too. Knowing he had the potential to come was huge and hearing that Jeff was coming as well just made it a lot better. I felt a lot more comfortable coming into freshman year.
Bartow: I don't think it really affected whether or not I was coming, it just was definitely positive for me because I didn't know Jeff was coming until he called me in February and asked to be roommates. I knew him through golf but not on a personal level, so it was definitely all positive for me.
Q: Has it affected your Bucknell experience at all?
Pike: I guess more than anything we see each other a lot at home so my Bucknell experience continues when I'm at home. These guys are my best friends here and at home so it's easy because I'm always with them and we're very close because of it.
Cohen: Absolutely, you feel more comfortable knowing you can fall back on these guys because I've known them for a long time. We can relate to a lot more stuff in the same area back home. I'd say it has made it that much better.
Bartow: For sure, it was definitely nice knowing people right off the bat. It was nice having a team that was really close especially since we were all really supportive of each other.
Q: What would you say was the hardest, and the most beneficial part of coming to Bucknell having already competed against your new teammates?
Pike: From my end, I knew I had some work to do right from when I got accepted because I knew how good Andrew was, I knew how good Brian was and I wanted to make sure I could work on my game before I got here so that I could compete at the level I needed to in order to succeed.
Cohen: The hardest thing was trying to get on the traveling team. These guys are good, they won Patriot Leagues the year before and they really knew how to score well.
Bartow: The only hard thing for me was that I knew that they were really good players and I had to practice a lot in order to get ready to compete against them. I played Cohen once in high school and he beat me, but it was just a 9-hole match. It definitely helped me work harder before school. I knew what to expect coming into it so it helped me gear my practice to certain things.
Q: What would your advice be to someone who is thinking about not playing for a college team because they know someone else coming?
Pike: I think it's hard to rule out what's going to happen in college. College sports are very different from high school sports so you need to look at the broader perspective. There are people coming from all different areas, all different towns. I would say play, have fun, and you never know what's going to happen.
Cohen: I'd say throw it out the window. Go. I think it's only beneficial to have someone from your hometown who you know. I think you compete that much more because people back home are looking at you and seeing how you are doing against someone else from the area. It makes you work that much harder.
Bartow: I think knowing someone before you come is just a great thing. You get more comfortable with the players and coach. There's no downside in knowing someone else who's going to come.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the Bucknell men's golf team?
Pike: Winning. I guess that fact that we've won Patriot League's twice now since I've been here has been a huge part of my college experience. I'm proud of everyone, I'm proud of how the team has played.
Cohen: I think Jeff hit it on the nose with winning. We've won a bunch here, a couple conference championships. Seeing how much your hard work pays off in the end for the team is very rewarding.
Bartow: I think the camaraderie is just great. The whole team likes to hang out and be with each other both on and off the golf course.
Q: Best Bucknell golf team memory?
Pike: My best Bucknell golf team memories are probably the casual rounds I've played with some of these guys on a Tuesday. Coming to a school like Bucknell, there's a lot of stress with the academics, so when I have the opportunity to play for fun with these guys, that's what I'm going to take away from college.
Cohen: I'd say traveling with the guys and after the round hanging out, just no worries in the world.
Bartow: For me, it was last year at Patriot Leagues when Cohen won the individual title, and then when we came back the last day to win was big.
Q: Best high school?
Pike: Rye High School by a whole lot. I think they're both going to agree, and if they don't it's a mistake.
Cohen: Well, Rye had a pretty good run, however, we never officially played each other in high school. So I'm going to say I would have taken him down if I were to have played him.
Bartow: I think Rye Neck is holding its own. It's up and coming. Watch out for Rye Neck in the future.