YORK, Pa. – The York College men's track & field team begins the 2011 campaign featuring a new look, high aspirations, and the pieces in place to attain success this season.
"We are definitely a different team than last year," Spartan head coach Erick Camodeca said. "No doubt about it, we lost some quality pieces from that 2010 squad. However, I believe that with the same things seem to be shaping up and with who we have this season we have the opportunity to have an outstanding season."
Camodeca, the 2010 Capital Athletic Conference Coach-of-the-Year, returns to the helm of the program for his fourth season and believes that the 2011 Spartans have what it takes to make a run at the top spot in the CAC.
"This team this year has what we need to be very successful," Camodeca said. "We have solid leadership, talent, and a desire to improve everyday. These student-athletes know what we could accomplish and they want to make sure they do everything they can to help us get there."
Two reasons for such optimism lie within returning CAC champions Zack Raywood and Phillip Cavaluchi. Raywood, who won the javelin last season, is an experienced Spartan who understands what it takes to be successful at this level. Cavaluchi burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2010, winning the long jump and taking second in the javelin, and will look to continue that success as a sophomore.
"Those two are exceptionally talented and put together strong seasons," Camodeca said, referring to Raywood and Cavaluchi in 2010. "This year however we will look for that success to catapult them to even better performances. Both of them will be keys for us throughout the year."
Fellow returners Ben Edwards and Jerry Bowers are two more talented veterans who should be able to post excellent results in 2011. Edwards has experienced quality success in the hurdles, as he owns each of York's hurdle records, and should put in a great year. Bowers enters his sophomore year as a talented jumper who will look to do big things in the long and triple jump events.
Camodeca is also excited about his returning distance runners this year as Andrew Friesema and Steven Childres are primed for quality campaigns. Friesema has done a tremendous job of leading the Spartans, helping to galvanize the program, while Childres has the combination of talent and work ethic to become an outstanding performer in the CAC.
Overall, each of York's returners will be called upon to bring not only results but also leadership.
"I am very confident in our returning student-athletes," Camodeca said. "They understand how we do things around here and can help the other guys get to where we need them. Our returners will be invaluable to our overall success this year."
Joining those veterans is a slew of newcomers as the Green and White welcome a bevy of new talent. Headlined by Randolph Patrice, Tim Hartung, and Gregory Gray, the Spartan freshmen will have the opportunity to shine in just their first collegiate season.
"There is a great deal of raw talent within our new class of rookies," Camodeca said. "We have student-athletes that have already posted fantastic results (during indoor meets) which makes us excited to see what they can do come the outdoor season."
Aside from the student-athletes themselves, Camodeca has brought in a crew of talented assistant coaches who will help the Spartans improve in each event throughout the year.
"As a sport, track & field consists of so many different skill sets that it is vital to have specific events coaches in order to get the best out of each athlete," Camodeca explained. "With so many different things going on at once it is important to have eyes on everyone to correct mistakes that could turn into problems later. Bottom line, the assistants we have in place are going to really help us reach that next level."
With all those different pieces in place, the Green and White will be focused on becoming one team during the season, a factor which Camodeca believes will be a key to York's success in 2011.
"We cannot have the throwers just out for the throwers," Camodeca said. "Or the sprinters just for the sprinters. We all need to come together and support one another. Become one family. That is what is truly going to take us to the next level."
The Spartans will begin the pursuit of that "next level" on Friday, March 4, when they open up their 2011 outdoor campaign at the University of North Florida Spring Break Invitational. Always in the back of their collective mind however, are mid-April's Capital Athletic Conference Championships, which York is slated to host this season.
"We definitely want to be geared up and fully ready to go for the CAC Championships on April 16," Camodeca said. "Having it here on our own track gives an added dimension of motivation for myself, our staff, and our student-athletes. Once again, I truly believe that if we do everything we are supposed to do, working hard, getting it done in the classroom, coming together as a team, this could be a very special season."
PHOTO: Chris Camodeca competes in a race at York's Graham Field track last season. Courtesy of Zach Clabaugh - www.sharpedgefoto.com