YORK, Pa. – The York College men's swimming team enters the 2011-2012 campaign as a markedly different yet optimistic squad. With the departure of a number of top swimmers, including multiple-time All-Capital Athletic Conference performer AJ Bean, this season's Spartan team sports quality potential and exciting, yet unproven, talent.
"We are really looking forward to this season," Spartan head coach Gina McHenry said as she enters her 19th year at the helm of the program. "We have quality veterans who have plenty of experience along with talented newcomers who should be able to post outstanding results."
Leading that core of veterans, seniors Alex Diehl, Jack Gottschalk, Jamie Hicks, and Richard Janosky are primed for a fantastic close to their respective careers. Each of the four brings a different element to the Spartan squad, an element that should help the squad achieve successful results throughout the season. Diehl is a strong student-athlete who will look to put up outstanding times in the freestyle events. Gottschalk is an excellent distance freestyler, evidenced by his fourth place finish at last season's CAC Championships, and brings steadiness and experience to the program. Finishing fifth in the 200 breaststroke at the 2011 league championships, Hicks comes into the season looking to push the pace in the breaststroke events for the Green and White. Janosky, a powerful swimmer, will be a strong leader for the York squad while providing quality times in the sprint and butterfly races.
"Our senior leaders are going to do very good things for us both in and out of the pool," McHenry said. "With their experience and success at the college level, they will not only post quality performances themselves but also help their teammates rise to a different level."
York also returns an exceptionally talented junior class as Steven Mercer, Andy Woods, and Tyler Ziegler open up their third season with the Green and White. Mercer had an outstanding sophomore campaign, highlighted by shattering York's 400 IM record that had stood since 1977, and will look to build on that effort for 2011-2012. Woods, who finished eleventh or better in his three individual events at last year's CAC championships, is primed for his best season to date. Ziegler, a quiet producer his first two seasons, was a seventh-place finisher in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events and has an opportunity to post a breakout campaign.
Sophomores Jeffrey Buratti, Matthew Corkwell, and Peter Zientara add another element of experience and talent to the Green and White. Each had a quality freshman campaign and gained significant experience, two factors that should help them be even better in their second season.
"Those returners in the junior and sophomore classes are going to be key to our overall success," McHenry said. "Our swimmers here are each talented student-athletes. As long as they continue to progress and make positive strides, I see no reason why they should not be able to compete well throughout the season."
One of the brightest spots for McHenry's squad is the bevy of solid newcomers. The influx of young talent will bolster an already talented Spartan team while adding an edge of youthful exuberance. Robert Becker, Shane Bonner, Ryan Callahan, Jason Hocklowski, Bryant Hughes, James Kovach, Cody Latchford, and Adam Schin join the York program for their first season with the Spartans. This group brings quality credentials to the collegiate ranks and will look to quickly adjust to the Green and White.
"We are very excited about what our newcomers are going to be able to do this season," McHenry said. "There is significant potential there. Our job will be to refine their talent and begin to realize that potential this year. We are looking forward to that challenge."
As a program, the Spartans have put together a quality run over the past several seasons. Over the previous five years, York has finished second at the CAC Championships, accumulating a regular season record of 46-9 during that span.
Swimming a ten-date regular season slate this year, the Spartans are primed for another quality campaign.
"We certainly have had some nice success, especially recently," McHenry said. "And we certainly want that trend to continue. If we come to work day-in and day-out, and stay focused throughout the season, I think we will have a good chance to have a successful year."
The Spartans open up their 2011-2012 season on Friday, November 4, as they host CAC foes Mary Washington and Hood. Start time from York's natatorium inside the Grumbacher Sport & Fitness Center is slated for 6:00 pm.
PHOTO: Junior Steven Mercer prepares for a race at last season's Capital Athletic Conference Championships.