Sturdy Season

The winter teams do the College proud.

Men's Basketball -- Women's Basketball -- Men's Swimming -- Women's Swimming -- Men's Indoor Track and Field -- Women's Indoor Track and Field -- Wrestling

Men's Basketball

Made the Play-offs

The Bombers made their third consecutive post-season appearance, qualifying for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference upstate New York play-offs and finishing 14-12 overall.

Ithaca was led by senior center Eric Pitcher (in photo), who was named a first-team Empire Athletic Association all-star. He also was named to the ECAC upstate New York and National Association of Basketball Coaches east region second teams. Pitcher finished his career with a school-record 133 blocked shots. He averaged 14.3 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Two other players earned all-conference honors: sophomore guard Pat Britton joined Pitcher as a first-team EAA all-star and freshman point guard John Lyons shared the league's rookie of the year award. Britton led the team in scoring (15.4 points per game), free-throw percentage (.850) and three-point field goal percentage (.377). Lyons started all but one game and averaged 10.9 points per game while leading the team with 71 assists.

Women's Basketball

School-Record 22 Wins

The women's basketball team enjoyed one of its most successful seasons, setting a school record with 22 wins. The Bombers won the New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association and ECAC upstate New York championships.

Ithaca won 13 of its last 15 games, with the lone losses to NCAA-quarterfinalist Elmira. The Bombers rallied for a win against perennial power St. John Fisher to finish the regular season, then swept the state and ECAC titles. In the NYSWCAA semifinals the Bombers posted a 17-point win over Rensselaer -- a team that had beaten Ithaca 79-49 three months earlier. Led by all-tournament picks Jen Cotton and Jenn Colby (both juniors) and tournament MVP Margo McGowan (a senior, in photo), the Bombers cruised past Skidmore in the finals to win the program's first state title since 1993.

Like the 1993 team, this year's Bombers followed the championship with an ECAC crown. Ithaca edged Cortland in the semifinals, then defeated St. Lawrence in the championship game. Freshman Kelly Brady pulled down 15 rebounds in the final game to earn tournament MVP honors.

McGowan, who averaged 15.3 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game this season, closed out her career with a number of honors, awards, and milestones. A three-time Empire Athletic Association all-star, she was named the EAA's player of the year after being named conference player of the week five times. She also earned spots on the ECAC upstate New York all-star and GTE District I all-academic teams. McGowan now holds third place on Ithaca's career-scoring list with an even 1,200 points. She ranks second in career rebounds and leads in steals.

Colby was the team's second-highest scorer (12.1 points per game) and rebounder (8.1 rebounds per game). Jen Cotton, Ithaca's top three-point shooter, averaged 7.3 points per game. Sophomore Shari Wilkins, who averaged 6.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, set a school record with 87 career blocked shots.

Men's Swimming

Top Five

The men's swimming and diving team capped a 9-5 season with a fourth-place finish at the Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association Championship. The Bombers have placed in the top five at that event 14 times in the last 15 years. Sophomore Rob Finne and junior Scott Pavlick were Ithaca's top individual finishers at the state meet, finishing second in the 100-yard breaststroke and second in the 100-yard backstroke, respectively. They teamed with junior Matt Jones and senior Brian Barber to place second in the 200-yard medley relay.

During the regular season the Bombers placed second and third at invitationals hosted by Rensselaer and Franklin and Marshall. The Ithaca program had its 19th consecutive winning season -- its 14th with at least nine wins.

Pavlick ended the season with 38 first-place finishes and 522.39 points, leading the team in both categories. Senior Tim Marshall, a freestyle competitor, won 29 races; Barber won 27.

Women's Swimming

Another State Title

The women's swimming and diving team enjoyed another successful season, winning the New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association championship for the second straight year, placing eighth at the NCAA Championships and posting a 9-0 dual-meet record.

The state championship was the ninth in the last 14 years for the Bombers. Junior Renee Helbok won three individual events and swam on four first-place relay teams. She went on to pace the team at nationals, earning all-American honors in three individual events and four relays and taking fourth in the 200-yard freestyle. Freshman Karen Roll and junior Dara Porterfield joined Helbok with all-American finishes (top eight) in individual events. Ithaca also earned all-American status in five relay events.

Ithaca's undefeated record raised the program's mark in the 1990s to 63-16. The Bombers have won their last 46 dual meets against Division III competition. Coach Paula Miller, who has compiled a 96-24 record in 14 seasons, was named NYSWCAA coach of the year.

Men's Indoor Track and Field

Solid Showing

Ithaca placed fifth at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference meet, then took sixth at the ECAC championship. The ECAC finish was the second highest for the program.

Senior triple jumper David Kelley, a provisional NCAA qualifier, won NYSCTC titles in the high jump and triple jump. Senior Mark Bowles placed second in the long jump. Ithaca also finished second in the 3,200-meter relay, behind senior Chris Waldron, junior Scott Williams, sophomore Matt Trolio, and freshman Nick Ryan.

At the ECAC meet, where the Bombers improved four places from their 1997 finish, Bowles took fifth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump. Sophomore Jason Kucma was fifth in the 500-meter run, and the 3,200-meter-relay foursome of Ryan, Trolio, junior Eric Sambolec, and freshman Jon Woika placed fourth.

During the regular season Kucma and sophomore Mike Pedersen each broke the school record for the 500-meter run. The two ran on the 1,600-meter relay team, along with Waldron and freshman Matt Hopp, that provisionally qualified for the NCAA championship.

Women's Indoor Track and Field

State Champs

A state title and an all-American finish at the NCAA Division III championship topped the accomplishments of Ithaca's women's indoor track and field team. The Bombers won their first NYSCTC championship since 1990, behind two individual winners: sophomore Courtney Smith won the 200-meter dash, senior Melanie Della Rocco the 800-meter run. Senior Heidi Nichols, a three-time volleyball all-American who took up track just last year, finished second in the high jump and went on to earn all-American honors in that event with a fourth-place finish at nationals.

Junior Laura Good placed second in the 45-meter dash and 500-meter run; freshman Lauren Byler finished second in the 800-meter run; Smith was runner-up in the 400-meter dash; the team of Byler, senior Erin O'Connell, junior Lisa Freitag, and sophomore Rayne Dingman won the 3,200-meter relay; and the 1,600-meter relay team of Della Rocco, Good, Smith, and junior Jill Prevet took second.

At the ECAC championship the Bombers finished eighth -- a 15-spot improvement over the previous season's result. Nichols won the high jump title, and sophomore Ali Meier (another NCAA qualifier) finished fourth. The Bombers also placed fourth in the 1,600-meter relay.


National Champ

Highlighting Ithaca's season was the performance of senior John Gemmell, who returned from an injury early in the season to win the national championship at 126 pounds. Gemmell was one of three Bombers to qualify for the NCAA Division III championship.

A two-time national runner-up at 118 pounds, Gemmell missed the first two months of the season with a back injury. He finished the season with a 14-1 record and won the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference title for the third straight year. Junior 158-pounder Dan Butler joined Gemmell as conference champion, and freshman Brett Bakely, at 177 pounds, earned a wild-card entry to the national meet. Butler (29-10) led the Bombers in wins. Bakely was the team leader in pins with eight.

Ithaca was ranked in the top-25 teams throughout the season. The Bombers placed 10th in the New York State Collegiate Wrestling Championship, an event held at Ben Light Gymnasium, and were 3rd at the RIT Invitational.  

All Photos by Tim McKinney

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Web pages created by Andrejs Ozolins. 19 Oct 1999