Bison athletes conclude winter seasons with PL wins and NCAA, ECAC appearances

Becky Chambers and Elise Covert, Senior Writer and Sports Co-Editor

The week of spring break brought the Bison winter sports season to a close. Overall, the winter sports programs saw outstanding success this year; some highlights include four wrestlers who competed at the NCAA Championships and both the men’s and women’s basketball teams playing in first-round games of their respective March Madness tournaments.

From March 16-17, four Bison wrestlers competed in the NCAA Championships held in St. Louis. Tyler Smith ’18 (141) made his third appearance at the tournament alongside Tom Sleigh ’18 (197). Victor Lopez ’17 (157) made it for the second time and Garrett Hoffman ’20 (184) made his debut. Sleigh and Hoffman lost both of their matches on the first day. Smith and Lopez both advanced, but dropped their matches the following day. They participated the next day in the wrestle-backs.

During the wrestle-backs, Lopez saw his collegiate wrestling career come to an end after a tough match. Smith won two of his matches for the day, allowing him to compete for a place on the medal stand. Unfortunately, Smith lost his match to the EIWA Champion in his weight class, missing a chance to place. He was also only one win away from qualifying for All-American status. Overall, the Bison were proud to send four talented wrestlers to the tournament and hope to see Smith, Sleigh, and Hoffman back on the national stage next year.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams were also proud to have their athletes compete at the national level. The University became the first since 2010 to have both basketball programs win Patriot League Championships and compete in the NCAA Tournament in the same year. For the men, the Bison faced off against No. 4 West Virginia University in a hard-fought game. Unfortunately, their time at the dance came to an end with a final score of 86-80 in WVU’s favor. Despite the loss, the Orange and Blue represented the Patriot League exceptionally well. The men’s team also had four players recognized in All-League selections, led by Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Nana Foulland ’18.

The women’s basketball team won 79-71 in the Patriot League Championship in an overtime thriller in front of a home crowd at Sojka Pavilion and were granted an automatic bid to the Women’s NCAA Tournament. They faced No. 3 Maryland, where they lost 103-61 in a tough game. However, the Bison will enter next season on a 28-game home winning streak, looking to continue the historical success they experienced this year. The women’s team also placed three players on All-League rosters, including Claire DeBoer ’17 as the unanimous Player of the Year selection.

Women’s indoor track and field also captured a Patriot League Championship for the Orange and Blue. The women went on to compete at the ECAC Championships in Boston. They tied for 18th in a field of 44 schools and received All-East Honors in four events over the weekend. After placing fourth at the Patriot League Championships, the men’s indoor track and field team went to Boston to compete in the IC4A Championships. Will Carter ’17, Nicholas Lombardo ’18, and the 4×800-meter relay team won All-East Honors for their performances.

Finally, the swimming and diving teams closed their seasons at the ECAC Championships in Annapolis, Md. The men placed 10th and the women took an impressive second place. The women’s team had quite a few swimmers make the medal stand as well as an individual title by Emma Hadley ’20 in the 100-meter backstroke. Hadley and three of her teammates were named to All-League rosters at the end of the Patriot League season. Three of the men’s team swimmers were chosen for All-League teams, as well, including Louis Behnen ’17, who was named to All-League teams in each of his four seasons.

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