I lost a day in here, so I've got to catch up with two in this post. I'm probably going to publish two tomorrow, as well, rather than one on the 24th and one on the 25th. Tonight the ninth and tenth days of UB Christmas highlight the now-graduated Brittney Kuras of Swimming and Diving and the improvement of the Men's Soccer team.
... Nine Kuras Championships...
First, the Ninth Day of UB Christmas. I've written at length about Brittney Kuras, formerly of Women's Swimming and Diving, With Megan Burns, Spencer Rodriguez, and Jessica Powers regularly winning multiple events this season, I've been able to focus on the here and now in the first half of the season.
But it never hurts to look briefly back. Swimming and Diving slots into the ninth day of Christmas thanks to Kuras' nine individual MAC championships: three each in the 100 free, 200 free, and 200 individual medley over her three years in Buffalo. The three-time MAC Swimmer of the Year was also a seven-time MAC relay champion and hold three MAC records: two individual and one relay.
Of course, looking back on Kuras' accomplishments is even sweeter halfway through the first season without her, as Powers and Rodriguez both get a chance to shine and show how much they benefited from working with UB's best athlete every day in practice. As a team, Women's Swimming and Diving has opened the year with a number of statement wins against Michigan State, Army, Akron, and Canisius. The Zips of course were last year's MAC Champions.
... Ten Goals from Russell ...
The 10th day of Bull Run Christmas similarly celebrates a singular UB talent, but in the fall season. Men's Soccer is slowly establishing its footing, and while 2015 will not be a "win or bust" year, it will go a long way to showing how far the core of the team can take them in an always-strong MAC before Stu Riddle will need to reload.
The star of Riddle's tenure has been onetime Western Michigan recruit Russell Cicerone, who followed his coach to Buffalo when UB hired Riddle away from their MAC rival. Cicerone had a strong freshman season, leading the Bulls in scoring and earning All-MAC recognition, but it's 2014 where Russell really broke out.
For starters, the sophomore-to-be stayed sharp in the summer playing for local NPSL team FC Buffalo. All he did there was lead the Blitzers in goals, setting club records for goals and assists, and earn national recognition as part of the All-NPSL team, one of the top 11 players over 80 clubs in USA's fourth tier of soccer. He was also honored, naturally, by his club as Best Offensive Player, Supporters' Choice, and Most Valuable.
Though the impetus of the tenth day of Bull Run Christmas is Cicerone, fellow Bull Marcus Hanson was named FC Buffalo "Unsung Hero," as well.
Russ did not slow down come the college season, scoring 10 goals, including multiple-goal efforts against Bryant, St. Bonaventure, and Northern Illinois. It was the highest-scoring season by a Bull since Tim Butcher at the turn of the century, and Cicerone is the first Bull since Butcher to be named All-MAC First Team in consecutive seasons.
With Cicerone starring, the team clearly improved over the course of the season, and looks to take another step forward next year.
As I said above, I'll likely once again hit two days in one post to round out the Twelve Days of Bull Run Christmas series. For the Eleventh, we'll stay in the fall season for a team that set a new program high thanks to consistent performances, and the Twelfth will bring us back into the winter season to relive a new school record.