Winter is Coming: Team Expectations
The men’s basketball team is looking to bounce back from a forgettable 2014 season. Only a year after earning an Empire 8 Conference title and making it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA playoffs, a young, inexperienced Bomber team stumbled to a 7–18 record.
While the team is still fairly green, with only five upperclassmen, head coach Jim Mullins said he envisions the Blue and Gold heading in the right direction.
“We have a lot of guys who aren’t battle-tested and have limited experience,” Mullins said. “However, we have a lot of talent, and I like the way they play together.”
Leadership will be sought after from the two seniors, guard Max Masucci and center Keefe Gitto. Masucci led the Bombers with 30 3-pointers made, while shooting 38 percent from behind the arc. Gitto averaged seven points and 4.4 rebounds per game last year.
However, the team will most certainly miss the dynamic duo of forward Frank Mitchell ’14 and center Tom Sweeney ’14. Mitchell and Sweeney accounted for 26 points and 11 rebounds a game combined. Gitto is now the tallest man in the frontcourt and will need to boost his production in order to compensate for the loss of two captains. Mullins said he is hoping his center can step up this year after transferring to the college the year before from Bryant University.
“Gitto had to shake off a little rust after not playing for a year,” Mullins said. “But … I expect great things from him this season.”
The team begins its season on Nov. 15 in Saratoga Springs, New York, against Skidmore College.
Following a close defeat at the hands of Tufts University in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament eight months ago, the women’s basketball squad will attempt to gain similar success this season. The Blue and Gold finished 26–5 overall in the 2013–14 season, and after graduating three All-Americans, they will look to defend their Empire 8 crown for the fourth consecutive season.
Head coach Dan Raymond returns for his 15th season on the South Hill. Raymond said the team can continue its run of success this season if the players can work together.
“We can advance as far as they carry us,” Raymond said. “As long as the team understands every player is going to be relying on every other player, and if they buy into that, then I think we will have a very successful season.”
Despite the fact that the Bombers will lose three key seniors from last year in guards Mary Kate Tierney ’14 and Kathryn Campbell ’14, as well as forward Jenn Escobido ’14, the team returns enormous depth from the playoff run last season.
Senior forward Geena Brady will lead the offense for the Bombers after she managed a team-leading 61.4 field-goal percentage last season. Senior guards Samantha Klie and Ally Mnich will be versatile playmakers for the squad, and sophomore guard Ali Ricchuiti is looking to build off her strong freshman campaign, when she played in 29 out of 31 possible games.
The South Hill squad will open the season at 2 p.m. on Nov. 15 against the William Smith Herons in Ben Light Gymnasium.
With a squad plagued by injuries, the gymnastics team finished the 2014 season with a 1–9 record. Additionally, it placed seventh in the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championships, which were held at the Ben Light Gymnasium from March 21–22.
Head coach Rick Suddaby, who will return for his 29th season coaching the Bombers, said he is hoping that this season will be better than ever. He said the Bombers are hoping to excel this season and earn several spots in the NCGA championships.
“We will rely heavily on our new talent as we move into our competitive season,” Suddaby said. “They are skilled, excited and getting ready to compete at a very high level. The new gymnasts will help make the team better than it was last year and much more competitive.”
Two prominent returning members of the team this year are junior Megan Harrington and senior Val Cohen. Last year, Harrington finished as an All-American in the all-around competition at the NCGA championships last season held at Ben Light Gymnasium, becoming the 10th Bomber to do so. Cohen is ranked among the top gymnasts in the vault and floor competitions after qualifying for the NCGA championships for both.
Key new members of the Blue and Gold this year are freshmen Kaylee Pacunas and Kendra Balcerak. Suddaby said both gymnasts are practicing at a very high level and have shown consistency during their performances.
The Bombers will begin their season on Jan. 18 against Ursinus College.
Men’s Swimming and Diving:
With its first four meets — and first four wins — already out of the way this season, the men’s swimming and diving team is optimistic for its season. The team is 4–0 on the season and beat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Oct. 25 after RPI served the Bombers their only loss last season. Their other victories came against SUNY Cortland, SUNY Brockport and Fredonia State University.
Head coach Kevin Markwardt said the Blue and Gold are coming off two of the best seasons in the program’s history, which will make this season one of the hardest for his swimmers.
“We had 10 guys go to nationals last year, every relay made it, and that’s never happened before,” he said. “We graduated some of our top swimmers, and we’re not anything like the team we were in the last couple of years in terms of size, in terms of depth, but we definitely have some talent.”
Key returners such as senior Lucas Zelehowsky, junior Adam Zelehowsky, junior Addison Hebert and the sole diver, senior Matt Morrison — who was an NCAA finalist last season — will all have a huge role to play this season. Freshman Aidan Hartswick has also stepped up on the team thus far, already posting several first-place finishes in the team’s first three meets.
The Bombers will look to continue combining veteran talent with youthful energy as they next travel to Hartwick College on Nov. 22 in hopes of preserving their undefeated record.
Women’s Swimming and Diving:
The women’s swimming and diving team is back to its winning ways this season with a perfect record of 5–0 after its recent rout of SUNY Cortland by the score of 207–93. The Blue and Gold are picking up right where they left off last winter when they competed in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Even though she said one of the goals for the team is to finish with an unblemished record, head coach Paula Miller added that the team has its sight set up on another national showing.
“In my opinion, meets are preparations for our championships,” she said. “It’s nice to be undefeated, but that’s not the most important thing. We are going to put our best lineup out against every team we go against, but that doesn’t necessarily predict what’s going to happen for the end of the season.”
Miller also said her team lost a very talented class last year and has a very small freshman class this year of 12 compared to last year’s 20.
Kylie Bangs, Megan Buisman, Katie Huber, Lyndsay Isaksen, Mariel Kunnapas and Christine Zulkosky highlight the senior class. Sophomore swimmer Grace Ayer returns after her dominant freshman campaign that led to All-American honors. Sophomore freestyle swimmer Catherine Tompkins, Miller said, has shown improvement as a distance swimmer this season as well.
Despite a plethora of holes in the individual medley and breaststroke and a diving squad that is composed of mostly underclassmen, Miller said she is still optimistic.
“We’re going to have a successful year, but it’s going to be a struggle,” she said.
In their next meet on Nov. 22, the Bombers will face Hartwick College and SUNY Geneseo.
Men’s Track and Field:
Coming off its seventh consecutive Empire 8 championship last year, the men’s indoor track and field team is looking to continue its success this season. Along with the conference title, the team had nine athletes on the all-Empire 8 team last year. However, of those nine athletes only sprinters Rashaad Barrett, Kevin Davis and Aaron Matthias return to the squad.
Another returner that will be key to the team’s success is senior distance runner Mason Mann, who was a part of the 2012 distance medley relay team that won the conference.
Head coach Jim Nichols said he is confident, however, in his new athletes and their potentials despite graduating nine seniors from last year’s team.
“We have a really strong freshman class coming in this year and some guys that could fill some holes made by the seniors we lost after last year,” Nichols said.
Not only is it important for the freshmen to find a place where they can make a mark on the team, but the upperclassmen need to do better than their previous seasons, Nichols said.
“It’s a matter of our returning athletes improving on their performances from last year and our seniors taking over the leadership roles of last year’s seniors,” Nichols said. “Those are the keys to a successful track program.”
The Blue and Gold will begin their season on Dec. 6 in the Cornell Relays at Barton Hall in Cornell University.
Women’s Track and Field:
The women’s track and field team returns with an experienced group of student-athletes who will look to continue its dominance of the Empire 8. The Bombers captured their seventh consecutive conference championship last year and hope to build off their fifth-place finish at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Championships a season ago.
Seniors Harmony Graves and Leigh Martino, both of whom earned all-ECAC accolades in sprints, will return to the South Hill squad, which finished last season as the 24th-ranked team in the country, and provide key leadership to the team.
Senior sprinter and high jumper Alex Lewis said the team’s experience will lead it to even bigger achievements this winter.
“Every one of the seniors is a great leader by example and through motivating others,” Lewis said. “I think the positive attitude that all the seniors have this year is going to get us far this season.”
The Blue and Gold will also return two members of the team who competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska, last year, including senior captain Emilia Scheemaker, who placed fifth nationally in the triple jump and became just the 41st indoor track and field student-athlete at the college to earn All-American recognition since 1986.
Scheemaker said she believes the team is ready and mature enough for a big winter.
“I think the team as a whole is shifting its goals towards postseason,” Scheemaker said. “We came together for a challenge, and I think that although we might have to fight for every inch … the girls will be ready when the time comes.”
The team begins its season with the Cornell Relays on Dec. 6 at Barton Hall at Cornell University.
The wrestling team looks to improve on a solid 2013–14 year. The team finished with an 8–3 record in individual matches and fared just as well in tournaments and duals.
In four regular-season tournaments, the Blue and Gold finished first in the Ithaca Invitational and the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Championships, second in the Spartan Invitational and eighth in the New York State Championships.
Then, at the NCAA Division III Championships, the Bombers finished 11th in the nation. Then-juniors Alex Gomez and Kristopher Schimek placed second in the 133-pound and fourth in the 165-pound weight classes, respectively.
Schimek, who compiled a record of 32–2 last season, is no longer with the team. Without one of the team’s top wrestlers, last year’s freshmen and sophomores will have to step into the spotlight this season.
Head coach Marty Nichols enters his 19th season as the head coach of the Bombers and has had a long career of success both as a wrestler and a coach. He said he looks to build on another solid season around some young talent.
“If they’re going to learn fast enough to get up to speed with us … and the old guys keep improving and carry us along while the young guys develop, we could have a really good season,” he said.
The South Hill squad will have its second meet of the season, the Northeast Duals, on Nov. 15 in Oneonta, New York.
Know your Bombers: Players to Watch
Head coach Jim Mullins has stressed that the success of this season will depend greatly on the younger players on the men’s basketball team. Leading that youth will be 6-foot-8 sophomore Leonard Davis. Last season, Davis averaged 17 minutes on the court, posting 4.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
The Denver native was limited to just 12 games last season due to injuries but is back this season healthy and ready to go. Davis said he wants to improve his rebound game as he returns to full strength this season.
“I struggled a lot with injuries last year,” he said. “I think that my rebounding needs to be stronger this year, and it’s something I have been working on.”
If Davis is able to stay healthy this season, the Bombers should get muchneeded help on the glass along with more of a scoring threat in the low post.
Davis said he is excited about the chemistry that the team has this year.
“I think it’s safe to say that we have a better team than last year,” he said.
If Davis’ health remains consistent, expect big things from the talented sophomore.
After a trip to the Elite 8 last season, the women’s basketball team will look to senior guard Ally Mnich to fill the hole left by last year’s graduating senior guards Mary Kate Tierney ’14, Kathryn Campbell ’14 and Elisabeth Wentlent ’14.
During her junior campaign, Mnich was one of just six players who saw time in all 31 of the Bombers’ games, playing double-digit minutes in all but four of the games.
She averaged just under six points per game and posted a 74.4 free-throw percentage coming off of her freshman year, when she was the highest-scoring freshman on the team.
She will look to move into the Blue and Gold’s starting lineup for the first time as a senior.
Mnich said she will direct the team this season through her leadership and knowledge of the game.
“Since our team is so young, I’m looking to be more of a leader this year because of my experience,” Mnich said. “I want to be the spark plug and light the fire my team needs to win the game.”
Wrestling: Matt Booth, Nick Wahba, Carlos Toribio
As the wrestling team is set to begin another season, it is back with more experience.
With senior Alex Gomez taking a leadership role as the team’s captain this season, the Bombers will also be
relying on the return of their strong sophomore class. Headed by Matt Booth at 197 pounds, Nick Wahba at 133 pounds and Carlos Toribio at 174 pounds, the class looks to build upon the success it had last year. Toribio, who compiled a 24–6 overall record last season, said he believes the class can maintain its consistency.
“We definitely want to grow from last season and contribute to our team’s success this season,” Toribio said.
The sophomore class as a whole amassed 113 overall wins, a number that could be surpassed this season.
Booth and Wahba were both responsible for 19 of those victories apiece. Another main contributor to the win total was sophomore Liam Corbal, who totaled 14 victories.
According to head coach Marty Nichols, the Bombers’ success could be heavily predicated on the growth and success of its second-year wrestlers.
Gymnastics: Val Cohen
As the gymnastics season begins, all eyes will be on senior Val Cohen, who competes in each of the four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.
Head coach Rick Suddaby said floor and vault will likely be Cohen’s two strongest events, even though she missed last season with an Achilles injury.
“To me, she is someone to watch,” Suddaby said. “She should excel on floor and vault, but she is training everything.”
Cohen said she has high hopes for the team despite its 1–9 record last season.
“I am excited to be really competitive with every team in the country,” she said. “I want to compete with every single team and have a shot with every single team.”
Cohen said the team’s ultimate goal is to win a national championship. Her previous competition on a national stage will certainly help as she competed in nationals on vault and floor during her sophomore year.
The team will look to Cohen to lead it to its first national championship since 1998.
Sophomore Lake Duffy is coming off a stellar freshman season in which she snagged a total of five All-Empire 8 honors, in addition to an E8/Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association title in the 50-yard freestyle.
She has continued to have success this year as well, as the swimmer from Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, has helped lead her teammates to five straight wins to open the 2014–15 season along with five individual first-place finishes as well.
Sophomore Brenna Dowd said Lake’s positive and selfless attitudes game-in and game-out aid her success in the water.
“She’s always smiling even during some of the toughest sets,” she said. “She’s obviously a force to be reckoned with in the pool. … But she’s also extremely humble. You would never know of all her successes unless you were there to witness them all.”
Senior Logan Metzger returned halfway through the Bombers’ 2013–14 season after studying abroad in Australia.
Even though his time on the team last year was short-lived, Metzger managed to earn all-state recognition after taking seventh overall in the 50-yard freestyle at the Empire 8/Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association Championships.
Metzger said he is looking forward to his first full season back in the pool since his freshman year at Ithaca College. He said he is looking forward to a strong team work ethic and is excited about the progress he has made individually since his return last season.
“Personally, I’ve been dropping times that I’ve never even been close to this early in a season before,” he said. “I’m just pumped to see what I can do at championships once I’m in my best condition and tapered and ready to swim fast. We’d definitely like to bring some relays to NCAA’s as well, and I think that can happen for sure if we keep swimming like we have been.”
Men’s Track and Field: Dylan Bland
Freshman pole vaulter Dylan Bland is looking to start his Ithaca College track and field career in a big way. Bland is looking to replace Taylor Appel ’14 and Steve Episcopo ’14, who both made the all-conference team last year.
Though Bland does not have collegiate experience on his side, his high school record speaks for itself. In his senior year at Lansing High School in Lansing, New York, Bland vaulted 14 feet, which is higher than the last three pole vaulters to win the Empire 8.
Fellow freshman pole vaulter David Dorsey said Bland has huge potential to be a competitor in the Empire 8 as a first-year athlete.
“He has shown in practice that he is one of the better pole vaulters on the team, and he seems poised to have a very successful season for the team,” Dorsey said.
Women’s Track and Field: Natalie Meyer
Sophomore Natalie Meyer returns to the Bombers’ track and field team after an historic debut season. Meyer, who joined junior Emilia Scheemaker at the NCAA Championships, placed 14th nationally in the high jump while also being named the Empire 8 Indoor Women’s Track and Field Rookie of the Year.
Meyer said her success last year serves as motivation for this season.
“After last year I have set some expectations for myself, and I definitely have a lot that I want to improve on,” she said. “I have been putting in a lot of work throughout the summer and preseason, and I want to keep getting stronger and keep improving.”
On Feb. 22, Meyer posted a season-best clear of 1.70 meters, coming only 3 centimeters shy of the school record. Meyer posted a third-place clear of 1.60 meters at the E8 Indoor Championship and finished tied for eighth place in the high jump at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Indoor Championship.