It’s a season that starts as soon as June, and that’s when the Blue Devil girls got started.
With help from assistants Chad Christman and Luke Godleski, Coleman had his runners working early in the summer to get their base mileage in. Though Marietta hasn’t typically been known as a top girls cross country program, Coleman sensed potential in this year’s team.
He turned out to be right.
Behind a dominant threesome of Mary Jane Assinzo, Kayla Dawson and Rebecca Dow, the Lady Blue Devils won the county championship, finished second in the Region 4AAAAAA meet and third in Class AAAAAA.
It was a far cry from 2012, when Marietta finished fifth at county, third at region and 15th at state.
And with the trio of Assinzo, Dawson and Dow expected to return next season, prospects only seem to get stronger for the Lady Blue Devils.
For getting his runners started early, and helping put them in the spotlight late, Coleman is the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year.
“I heard coaches say that cross country is a summer sport that you only race in the fall,” Coleman said. “It’s really one of those situations where you’ll see the results of the work you did. The teams that are there in November at state are the ones that did the work back in June and July.”
Looking back on the season, Coleman’s runners gave their coach a lot of credit for the success they had.
“Even when we’re cramping up, or when we’re having bad days, he just tells us to push through it,” said Assinzo, who won the individual region title and finished second at state. “Because, when that big race comes and we’re not doing well, we’ll still have to push through it.
“He knows we we’re better than we think we are. He’ll give us times that we think we can’t hit, but he knows we can. That pushes us to go faster in the workouts and go faster on the course.”
Even though Marietta had arguably the best season of its long history, it still faced a little adversity with the combination of injuries and personal conflicts.
Dawson, only a sophomore, got off to a slow start this season, but she picked it up in time for the county meet, where she led the Marietta with a third-place finish of 19 minutes, 30.22 seconds.
Dow (19:39.89) was fourth and Assinzo (19:47.51) fifth, and that was enough for the Lady Blue Devils to win the county title by five points over defending champion Walton.
Marietta had to settle for second to Harrison in Region 4AAAAAA, despite Assinzo, Dawson and Dow sweeping the top three.
Ultimately, though, improving from 15th to second in the state is what they’ll remember.
Assinzo saved her best race for last at the state meet in Carrollton, timing at 19:13.48 and finishing second to Walton’s Avery Bussjager (19:04.20).
Dow (19:41.40) was ninth, with Dawson 20th at 19:54.77.
“(Assinzo) brought it that day and part of that is the kids getting up for the moment,” Coleman said. “Some people step up on the big day and she really embraced that. She didn’t have a great race at county and wanted to redeem herself with a great region, and she was even better at state.”