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February 28, 2003

Spring sports preview

Hornet sports fans have quite a bit to look forward to this spring. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come:

Baseball
Photo: Hornets SportsThe CSUS baseball team has a fresh look in 2003 with 19 new players, a newly renovated Hornet Field to call home and its fastest start to a season since 1994.

The Hornets will have also have made the move to independent status after competing in the Big West the past five seasons. Their schedule will feature a variety of opponents such as Hawai'i, UC Santa Barbara, Minnesota, Cal, Stanford, Pacific, Arizona, Santa Clara and Washington State. Head coach John Smith, who has the most wins and longest tenure of any coach in program history, is in his 25th season. Senior pitcher Steve Cuckovich, senior center fielder Tim Reimer and junior first baseman and pitcher Chris Kinsey serve as the core for the Hornets.

Women’s tennis
The CSUS women's tennis team looks to defend its Big Sky Conference title.

The Hornets were selected to finish first in the Big Sky coaches poll for the first time since joining the conference in 1997. The Hornets are also ranked No. 75 in the national collegiate team rankings. Leading the squad will be freshman Margarita Karnaukhova, who opened the year with a team best 5-1 record. The Krasnovar, Russia, native is ranked No. 51 in the national preseason singles rankings by ITA, the first Hornet in program history to be ranked.

Gymnastics
The Hornet gymnastics squad will look to defend its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title and reach the NCAA West Regionals.

Head coach Kim Hughes, the 2002 MPSF Coach of the Year, has great depth on his squad with 11 freshmen joining the program. The squad is led by junior Binta Coleman (all-around), senior Jenny Diamond (vault, beam, floor) and sophomores Meloney Greer (vault, bars, beam), Jessica Hoffman (all-around) and Nirvana Zaher (all-around). The 2003 MPSF Women's Gymnastics Championships will be hosted by CSUS on March 29 in the Hornets Nest.

Men’s tennis
The men's tennis team will seek its third-consecutive Big Sky Conference championship and its fifth title in the last six years.

The Hornets have been picked in a poll of the Big Sky coaches to win the conference championship this year. First-year head coach Sherif Zaher joins the coaching ranks after earning Big Sky Most Valuable Player honors each of the last two years as a player for the Hornets.
Softball
Softball enters the year with plenty of new faces, a new conference and a revamped facility.

The team features 14 newcomers, the most in head coach Kathy Strahan's 11-year tenure with the program. Only seven players return (including two seniors). After spending the past six years in the Big West Conference, Sacramento state enters the newly formed Pacific Coast Softball Conference for the 2003 season. Loyola Marymount and CSUS were chosen as co-favorites to win the PCSC in the preseason coach’s poll.

Rowing
Winners of two of the last three Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles, the CSUS women's rowing team hopes to continue that success.

First-year head coach Mike Connors is putting together a new lineup for the varsity eight as the team's top boat lost six student-athletes to graduation. Over the last four years, the Hornets' varsity eight has combined for two silvers and two golds at the WIRA Championships and a 25-6 dual-meet record. The team's top returners include juniors Stephanie Brow and Adelle Reimer. The team’s home facility (CSUS Aquatic Center in Rancho Cordova) will again serve as the host to the WIRA Championships, the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships and the Pacific-10 Championships.

Track and field
The men's and women's track and field teams begin their busy outdoor schedule on March 8.

The men's team will be led by senior Jonathan Davis, who is looking to defend his standing as the Big Sky Conference's fastest man. Last year, Davis captured both the 55-meter title during the indoor season and the 100-meter crown at the conference's outdoor championships.
The women's team has a nice mixture of veteran leadership and young talent. Junior Shanita Bryant hopes to recover from a hamstring injury which sidelined her for most of last season. As a freshman, she was one of the Big Sky's top sprinters and jumpers.

Golf
After solid showings in the fall, the men's and women's golf teams each have a full schedule during the spring season.

The women opened their year with a sixth-place showing at the Aztec Invitational hosted by San Diego State. The women still have events in Goodyear, Ariz., Monterey, and Arroyo Grande, before competing in the Big Sky Conference Championship on April 21-23.

The men's team, which features six golfers from the Sacramento area, will compete in four tournaments during the spring. The squad opens the season in Beaumont at the UC Riverside Tournament.

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