Cross Country Anticipating Breakout Season

Cross Country Anticipating Breakout Season

Bates, Sizeland to lead men; Watson set to pace women

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HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker cross country teams head into 2013 looking to put their names on the map. They are led by head coach Vic Finora, who has set the bar high for the teams as he enters year two at the helm.

"Last year, with freshmen and inexperienced runners, you really didn't know what to expect," said Finora. "Now, I'm hoping for more consistency.  We have kids that have run for two years in college and have run at a high level. They competed in regionals and nationals and have seen what it takes to be successful."

The experience Finora is referring to comes with the four transfer students that were added to this year's men's and women's rosters. Juniors Nick Mascardo, Taylor Hall and Vanessa Pina all transferred from Darton College. The fourth and final transfer student is junior Hannah Cook from Lorain County Community College.

 Altogether, the cross country teams will have 11 new runners – five for the men and six for the women. It will be a strong batch of new faces headed to a new conference, as Coker joins the South Atlantic Conference this year.

Returning on the men's side are junior Dylan Bates and sophomore Tom Sizeland.  Both Bates and Sizeland ran themselves into the Coker record books last season at the Royal Challenge, when they finished the 8K race in under 27 minutes. 

"Tom just has a great work ethic," said Finora. "And it paid off when he got his 8K time down under 27 [minutes]. That's the great example he sets for incoming freshmen, showing them a true example of getting times down with hard work."

Finora will be looking for Bates to play the role of veteran leader this season.

"Dylan is going to be crucial for us," the coach said. "He's on his third year now, and he has had success and been here the longest. So I am counting on him to provide leadership."

On the women's side, Finora expects returner Naomi Watson, a sophomore, to reach new potential with the help of her new teammates.

"I really think this can be a really good year for Naomi," said Finora. "This year she's going to have a bunch of people to push her. She was our team MVP last year, and she's one of a few returners we have on the women's side, so I am expecting her to step up."

Coker's first test will come on Sept. 6 as both teams travel to Salisbury, N.C., for the Catawba Invitational. 

Story written by assistant sports information director Eric Garlow.