FLORENCE, SC – The Francis Marion University men’s and women’s cross country squads will open their 2003 season on Saturday (Sept. 6) when they compete in the 31st-annual California University of Pennsylvania Invitational in California, Pa.
The meet will begin at 9 a.m.
The FMU men return four lettermen from last year’s squad that placed fifth at the Peach Belt Conference championships and 15th at the NCAA Division II South Regional Meet. Leading the returnees is junior All-Conference candidate Ryan Plexico. He was the top FMU runner in five of seven meets last fall and he recorded five top-10 finishes. His performance at the Overton’s ECU Pirate Meet on Oct. 5, 2002, was the fastest time (26:23) by a Patriot runner in 12 years, and the 49th fastest in school history.
Two newcomers joining the Patriot squad: freshman Graham Foster (Taylors, SC) and sophomore Ezekiel Koech, a transfer from South Region team champion Harding University. Koech finished 21st at the South Region meet last fall, 23 spots ahead of Plexico.
Senior Erin Flury and sophomore Jennifer Dewell are the two returning women’s runners. Last fall, the Patriot women placed 10th at the PBC Meet.
Among the newcomers to the women’s squad are Erica Woo, a product of Wade Hampton High School in Greenville; Megan Coy, a three-time All-Conference runner at Avon Lake High School in Ohio; and Nicole Hoeppner from Mannheim, Germany.
Head coach Mark Bluman’s charges will compete in six regular-season meets leading up to the PBC Championships on Oct. 25. The Patriots will host the 16th-annual FMU Invitational Meet on Saturday, Sept. 27.