Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

Women’s Cross Country
The women’s cross country team matched the men’s team with a sixth-place finish at the James Madison University Open Invitational. The team averaged a time of 21:39.70, whereas both Duke Blue Devils’ teams won the meet. Junior Samantha Fickel ranked 31st overall, crossing the finish line at 20:42.30. Three sophomores also placed in the top 100. Karlyn Lockie and Kailyn Lockie finished in 84th and 90th, respectively, while Elizabeth Smith inched past a Delaware Blue Hens runner by one second for 100th place. The team also competed in the Lou Onesty Invitational, where freshman Rochelle Sceats placed fifth in 18:46.90.

Under the Scope: Fickel, Mason’s top runner last year, enters this season with high hopes again. Last season, she was only one of two Mason runners to participate in the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships. In addition to her 31st-place finish at the JMU Open Invitational, Fickel finished in 16th place at the Lou Onesty Invitational.

Men’s Cross Country
The men’s cross country team opened their 2009 campaign at the James Madison University Open Invitational at the New Market Battlefield last month. Mason took sixth place among the nine competing schools. Senior James Burns led all Mason runners with a time of 25:44.90, which was good enough for 17th place. In 42nd place, fellow senior Matt Bailey was the only other Mason representative to rank in the top 50 with a time of 26:40.80. The team placed fourth in the Lou Onesty Invitational on Sept. 19. Sophomore Everett Hackett finished third with a time of 25:10.50. Freshman Daniel Nafziger and senior Sam Horn ranked 15th and 16th, respectively.

Under the Scope: Hackett had a tremendous showing at the Lou Onesty Invitational, finishing in third place. As a result, he was named the Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week in the Colonial Athletic Association. He took 16th place at the CAA Championships with a time of 25:21.00.

Women’s Tennis
The women’s tennis team won all four matches at the Tiger 4-1 Invitational, which is the best start in school history for a team that has been longing to get past mediocrity. Mason defeated the host Towson Tigers in a tight 3-2 match. Freshman Andrea Londen rallied from a heartbreaking first-set loss to provide Mason with its second singles win.

The doubles team of freshmen Kiersten Pappas and Alison Wingo defeated their opponents (6-2, 6-2). Mason went on to win against the Shepherd Rams, continuing their road to an undefeated season. All of Mason’s six singles and three doubles teams swept the Rams.

Under the Scope: Pappas, a standout tennis player at Loudoun Valley High School, enters the season with high expectations and has already strengthened Mason at the top. Junior Lindsay Gray held the incumbent number one slot for Mason in the past two seasons.

Pappas has been playing at the number one slot in five of the first eight matches and has yet to lose a single match in her early collegiate career. As she provides competition for Gray at the top, Mason increases their chances of playing top-level tennis.

Men’s Tennis
The men’s tennis team, which lost Brian Fitzgerald and Dan Schneider to graduation last year, will open the 2009 season with a group of young talent. Sophomore Jorge Osuna had a tremendous freshman year last season and opened the season with a convincing win at the number one slot in singles at the Mason Fall Invitational. He defeated Tommi Nissinen of the James Madison Dukes in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) on the final day. Freshman Kevin McMillen opened his collegiate career with a 3-0 record in Flight Two singles. Mason struggled at the University of Mary Washington Kickoff Classic, picking up only two wins. Osuna struggled in his first match, but answered with a three-set win, wrapping up his performance with a 1-2 showing. After dropping the first set 6-3, Osuna took the second set 6-1 and squeaked past his Mary Washington opponent in a thrilling 10-8 win in the third set.

Under the Scope: McMillen is one of seven newcomers to the men’s tennis team. He won all three singles matches at the Mason Fall Invitational and teamed up with Osuna at the number one slot in doubles to win the two matches that Sunday. He was unable to pick up a win at the Mary Washington Kickoff Classic, but he will still have a lot of opportunities this season.

Women’s Soccer
The women’s soccer team is stocked with a high-octane offense this season. Most of the production has come from the front line with freshman forward Tiana Kallenberger, redshirt junior midfielder Omolyn Davis and senior forward Kelly Keelan. Mason already surpassed last season’s win total in the first seven games. The team struggled to find a consistent goalkeeper, but Head Coach Diane Drake seems to have found the solution with freshman Katie Frey, who recently won the CAA Rookie of the Week award. Frey has four shutouts to go along with her .824 save percentage.

Under the Scope: Kallenberger has been a viable asset to the team’s early success. She is tied for second in the CAA with seven goals. Although she has not been the only success story coming out of Mason, she has helped bring Mason out of the cellar to the top of the conference. In the first nine games, Kallenberger already scored four game-winning goals.

Men’s Soccer
The men’s soccer team has been a part of a number of low-scoring affairs in the 2009 season, but the team finally broke open against the Longwood Lancers in a 4-0 rout. After the first 14 games, Mason was 6-6-2 at the time. The team finally received a wake-up call and went on a rampage, winning eight consecutive games, including a 1-0 win in the NCAA Tournament against the Pennsylvania Quakers. Mason, the defending CAA champion, has a brand new defensive core with freshman Ryan Reichmann and redshirt sophomore Eric Zuehsow.

Under the Scope: Zuehsow had his season cut short, but was named to the D.C. College Cup All-Tournament Team last season. Zuehsow scored a game-winning goal against the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks two years ago and recently put up two goals last week against the Lancers and the VCU Rams. Mason has given up just four goals in their first seven games. The defensive plays from Zuehsow will be vital for the team to minimize offensive opportunities for their opponents.

Women’s Volleyball
The women’s volleyball team, enriched with its history of highs and lows, is once again building up to a bright future. Mason was unable to overcome a couple of streaks last season. Even though Mason recently suffered their first losing streak this season, the team looks to get back on the winning side. The team may be regressing a little bit, but Head Coach Pat Kendrick has been known to turn around the program in the past. In just her second season, Kendrick led Mason from a 14-20 record to 31-12. Just a decade ago, Mason gradually improved from 7-25 to 22-8 in 2002. Mason currently stands at 12-5, which is already an improvement from last season’s 9-18 record.

Under the Scope: Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bohman is the team’s defensive specialist, leading with 83 blocks, 18 of which are solo blocks. Bohman, the CAA Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 8, is the conference leader in blocks with 1.32 per set. She recorded a career-high 11 blocks against the Cornell Big Red in the Patriot Invitational earlier in the season. Bohman, who was limited to a reserve role in her rookie season, will be having her hands up, making it tough for Mason’s CAA foes to register kills.

The golf team opened their fall schedule at the Manor Intercollegiate in Farmville, Va. on Sept. 15. Sophomore Josh Apple led Mason and finished in third place overall, shooting a one-over par 217 in the 54-hole event. Junior Marshall Tinsley shot a 10-over par 226, but dropped from eighth to 17th place on the final day. Casey Thompson, A.J. Singh and senior Andrew Maryan also competed at the Manor Intercollegiate. Mason finished fourth among 13 schools with an overall score of 916.

Under the Scope: Tinsley was one of the team’s top golfers last season as he led the team in the CAA Championship with a 22nd-place finish. The team wrapped up last season at the Cavalier Classic and Tinsley continued to impress with a fourth-place finish, a score of two-under par 70. He opened with a second-place ranking, a five-under par 67 on the first day at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate in Sunset Beach, N.C. last week. He finished in fourth place overall with a six-under par 210.