Sports teams ranked high as seasons start
August 28, 2007
The volleyball and cross country teams are ranked first and the men’s soccer team is ranked fourth in the NAIA Region XII, rankings that are both an encouragement and challenge for the coaches.
Cross country Coach Rodney Stoker said the ranking is a compliment to his young squad; the team is in its third year since the program was reestablished in 2005. Experience and growth have raised expectations for his more seasoned runners, including Daniel Goetz, who qualified for the NAIA national championships in indoor and outdoor seasons last year. Quality recruits also have provided depth which was lacking.
“We’re young, but if things go right and we stay healthy, we could do well,” Coach Stoker said.
Volleyball Coach Leo Sayles said the preseason ranking “is a sign of respect for our program and the hard work of our players. I believe we will be in serious contention for the title as well, if we can mesh early and stay healthy.”
The Lions are building on last year’s second-place finish in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, and are led by All-American honorable mention Robin Renfroe and senior captain Kathryn Rawley, a second-team All Conference player a year ago, and AAC Freshman Player of the Year Amber Smith.
Men’s soccer Coach Sandy Zensen said the regional ranking “gives us a target to shoot for. It’s an encouragement to the players.” He said he thinks the ranking came because the Lions return five starters from last year’s team “and we had a really good recruiting year.”
Coach Zensen is expecting seniors Scott Davidson and Manoel Silva “to play a huge part in our success. Both are four-year starters and both can score.” The midfield has been strengthened, and the defense is anchored by National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American Kyle Wagley and Nate McCown.