HARTSVILLE, S.C. – In just a few days Coker College’s campus will be a buzz of action as students return to campus to start the 2011-12 school year. As we begin to prepare for the upcoming year, and what will surely be a very exciting year in Coker Athletics, we take a look back at the 2010-11 year.

In the Cobras second year under the direction of Coach Leese, they once again advanced to the championship game of the Conference Carolinas Tournament, coming up just short with a 2-0 loss to Lees-McRae.  They finished the year with a record of 7-7-5 overall and a 3-4-2 record in conference play.

They had three players named to All-Conference teams with senior Marc Mergena and sophomore Rommel Fondin both named to the Second Team and senior Daniel Shirzad was named to the Third Team.  Mergena and Fondin were also named to the Conference Carolinas All-Tournament team along with sophomore goalkeeper James Sweeney.

In addition to Fondin’s All-Conference and All-Tournament honors, he also earned Conference Carolinas Men’s Soccer Player of the Week honors.

Next year’s schedule looks to be one of the toughest in program history, including an opening weekend trip to the Division II National Championship runner-up Rollins College, the team has an exciting challenge ahead next fall.

During the fall the Cobras had two players named Academic All-Conference, seniors Jamie McCoy and Mandi Warner.

In addition to Warner’s Academic All-Conference selection, she was named a finalist for one of the most prestigious honors in Conference Carolinas, the Murphy Osborne Award. The Award is given annually to the most outstanding student-athlete with the highest academic performance in the conference. Athletes are nominated by their institutions based on their academic and athletic accomplishments of that year.

On the field they were 1-14-2 with a 5-3 win over Barton and a thrilling 0-0 tie against Chowan University in their homecoming match.

With the arrival of new head coach Dan Muns in January and the addition of several new players and good nucleus returning we hope for big things from
the Cobra women’s soccer team in the future.

In their first year under the direction of head coach Todd Caughlin the women had some bumps in the road, but the future looks very promising for this group of young players. The Cobras went 2-25 on the year with both of their wins coming at home. The first against Mount Olive 3-0 and the second against Converse 3-0.

With a solid core of players returning, including team MVP Katie McElveen, and the addition of nine newcomers, Coach Caughlin and the Cobras look to be conference contenders next season.

They open their 2011 season on September 2-3 at the Queens University of Charlotte Tournament with their home opener on September 7 against St. Andrews.

Both the Coker men’s and women’s cross country teams had successful seasons under the leadership of first year head coach Kevin Kelley. The women finished in the top 10 in five of their six meets and they placed ninth in the Conference Carolinas Championships and had some of their best times in recent years.

The men’s team won the Claflin Invitational and placed in the Top 10 in three other meets. They placed 10th at the conference meet and with a solid group of runners returning they are looking forward to an even more successful 2011-12 season.

Two of the women were named Academic All-Conference; seniors Alex Ochoa and Ashley Meador and senior Kendyl Seawright was named Conference Carolinas Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week twice.

The Cobras top runner, Seawright set a new Coker record with a 6k time of 24:13, giving her the Coker record for 5k and 6k times. She won the UNC-Pembroke Invitational, placed third at the Guilford Invitational and had two other top 10 finishes during the season.

Senior Austin McJunkins was an Academic All-Conference selection for the men.

The Coker women’s team basketball also had a new coach this season with Jenny Finora leading the team in her first year as the head coach. The women finished out very strong, winning three of their last five games, just one game shy of making the conference tournament. 

They had two buzzer-beater victories, both of which senior Megan Thomas nailed the game winner, while sophomore Jasmine Alston set a single game record for most points in a game scoring 47 against Lees-McRae in the final game of the year. In all the Cobras were 5-21 on the year, with all five wins in conference. With their strong finish to end the season they will surely be a team to watch next season. 

They also had two Academic All-Conference performers, seniors Megan Thomas and Maija Castren.

It was a Cinderella year for the Coker men’s basketball team. Their season got off to a slow start as they won just two games before the holiday break, but they continued to fight and closed out the year winning nine of their last 12 games. Included in those wins were two huge victories in the quarterfinal and semifinals of the conference tournament, both at home. The first was an 89-87 win against Pfeiffer in the quarters and the second an 87-80 win over Belmont Abbey in the first ever semifinal game hosted at Coker.

Thanks to that semifinal win the Cobras made history yet again as they advanced to face Limestone in the championship game of the conference tournament, another program first.

The men finished the year with two all-conference and all-tournament team selections, seniors Tom Wright and Liam Kyle. Wright was also selected as the Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Scholar Athlete of the year and he was named the C.G. Timberlake Male Athlete of the Year at Coker.

This was the first season for women’s golf here at Coker and under the leadership of coach Tommy Baker the women had a successful year. They placed in the Top 10 in five of their tournaments, including a win over St. Andrews in a Dual Match, along with a third place finish at the St. Andrews Spring Invitational.

With the addition of several new faces for next year the future is bright for this young group of golfers. Leading the way is freshman team MVP Krista Thorpe. She led the team with the lowest stroke average on the team. Her score was counted in 16 of 18 rounds this season as she managed to rack up three Top 25 finishes along the way.

Another solid season for the men’s golf team also led by Tommy Baker, they had seven Top 10 finishes including winning the Lenoir-Rhyne Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate and the St. Andrews Dual Match. The Cobras also placed second in the Carolina Sands Invitational and placed second at the Conference Carolinas Championships. They had two Academic All-Conference selections, junior Diego Polo and sophomore Ben Conroy.

Individually, sophomore Jake Murphy had an outstanding season as he finished the season as the No. 4 ranked NCAA Division II golfer in the nation. A First Team All-American, Murphy finished third at the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf National Championship. He was also an All-Region and First Team All-Conference selection. He had eight Top 5 finishes during the season, including winning medalist honors at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational and the St. Andrews Dual Match. He also finished fifth at the Conference Carolinas Championship and the NCAA South/Southeast Super Regional. He was named to the Conference Carolinas Men’s Golf All-Tournament team and was the Coker Athletics Athlete of the Month for April 2011.

Murphy is just the second golfer in Coker history to be selected as an All-American and his third place finish is the highest finish at the National Championship by any Coker golfer in school history.

The women’s tennis team had a very successful season in their first year under Coach Tim Pleasant’s leadership. They finished fifth in the conference with a overall record of 10-10 and 5-4 in conference play.

They had two All-Conference players, junior Alyssa Blanchard was named first team and senior Kendall Sigmon was named third team. And Blanchard made history as the first Coker women’s tennis player to be named Conference Carolinas Player of the Year with a singles record of 18-3 and a doubles record of 16-5.

With just one senior, next year should be a very exciting year for the Cobra women.

Tim Pleasant also led the Coker men’s tennis team. The Cobra men had a very young squad of two seniors and six freshmen.

They finished the year seventh in the conference standings going 6-13 overall and 3-6 in the conference.

Senior Juan Vallejo-Gonzalez was an Academic All-Conference selection.

With nearly the entire team returning next season things looks good for the Coker men’s tennis team in the future.
The Cobra baseball team had some big wins this season. They finished the year with a 16-27 record, finishing seventh in the conference standings, but along the way they helped Coach Dave Schmotzer earn his 600th career victory, they took two of three games from regionally ranked Limestone and then they ended the year with a 3-1 win over nationally ranked No. 6 Francis Marion.

Sophomore Tyler Witzel was a Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week and a Second Team All-Conference selection and senior Matt Ammons received Academic All-Conference Honors.

The addition of several key players for next season should help the Cobras return to the top of the Conference Carolinas standings.

Another successful year for the Cobra softball team, they finished third in the conference standings with a record of 23-22 overall. The Cobras had an awesome nine game winning streak near the end of the season and they were within striking distance of the conference championship.

They also helped Coach David Hanna to 699 career victories at Coker, just one shy of a major career milestone.

They had three All-Conference performers with freshman Katie McElveen earning Conference Freshman of the Year honors, senior Sydney Greenwalt was a First team All-Conference selection and freshman Stacy Burr was named Second Team All-Conference. Greenwalt along with junior Becky Dillon were Academic All-Conference selections and Academic All-Americans.

Greenwalt was also named the C.G. Timberlake Female Athlete of the Year for Coker and was named the Conference Carolinas Scholar Athlete of the Year for Softball.