At the beginning of each season, every team has one thing in common: opportunity. And that holds true for the 2009 edition of the York College men’s cross country team. The Green and White hold an opportunity to become one of the top teams in the Capital Athletic Conference during the 2009 campaign as they sport a squad full of exceptional runners. Following six consecutive seasons of finishing in third place at the annual CAC Championships, the Spartans are primed to push Salisbury and Mary Washington, teams who have had a stronghold on the league since its inception in 1991.
“We have a great group of student-athletes,” Spartan head coach Rich Achtzehn said. “We really like our potential this season. If we put the work in and get better everyday, I believe that we have a shot to do some fantastic things in 2009.”
Despite the departure of three-time all-conference runner Jesse Jaeger, who has since become an assistant with the Spartans, Achtzehn believes that this year’s squad has in fact the most talented and deep roster in recent seasons.
“Up and down the lineup we have good runners,” Achtzehn said. “Obviously they have to prove it on race day, but I like where we are at this point.”
Headlining that talented and deep roster are a trio of 2008 all-conference performers. Senior Jason Hinkle, junior Bret Kilefner, and junior Matt Provonche each garnered second-team All-CAC accolades at last year’s CAC Championships. Each of the three posted exceptional campaigns last year and will strive for even better seasons in 2009.
“Hinkle, Kilefner, and Provonche are very talented, quality runners,” Achtzehn commented on his top three returners. “They are able to combine that talent with plenty of collegiate experience which will make each of them very dangerous come conference championships in November.”
Joining Hinkle, Kilefner, and Provonche within the ranks of York’s returning lettermen are Andrew Friesema, Paul Wallace, Patrick Lestrange, Joe Paraszczuk, Javier Skwara, Justing Severini, Kevin Snyder, and Matt Stripe. Each of York’s retuners will look to step up this year in an effort to move the entire squad in the right direction.
“We believe that all of our returners have the opportunity to perform well this season,” Achtzehn said. “Friesema, Wallace, and Lestrange are exceptional workers who have demonstrated, through last season’s performances, that they could be ready to seriously challenge for all-conference honors. Paraszczuk, Skwara, Severini, Snyder, and Stripe have each made quality strides during their respective careers and will look to break into the upper portion of our squad this season.”
Achtzehn is extremely pleased with York’s newcomers in the 2009 season and believes that they could make an immediate impact on the collegiate level. The Spartans list six rookie cross country runners while they come with impressive resumes. Steven Childres is primed to be the top newcomer to the Green and White as he possesses the talent post top finishes right away. Childres, who hails from Mount Saint Joseph High School in Maryland, has incredible potential that could result in big things throughout his collegiate career. Ryan Janes, Steven Andrews, Greg Bivona, Tyler Quill, and Darine Howze will also seek to contribute to the Spartan effort in just their first cross country season at York.
“This is the best group of newcomers we have had in several years,” Achtzehn raved. “Within this group we have runners who will be able to challenge for top finishes immediately while we also have runners who will continue to get better and better as the years progress. They give us great reason to be excited about this season and the future of our program.”
As the Spartans embark on the 2009 season, plenty of opportunity abounds given their talented and deep roster. As long as the Green and White come together as a team early in the year, improve day-by-day throughout, and hit their peak at just the right time, the men’s cross country squad could post one of their best seasons in York College history.
“We are expecting quality results all throughout the year,” Achtzehn said. “If we put in the time and work, there is no reason why we should not able to compete with Salisbury and Mary Washington at the end of the year. I am very excited about this year’s team.”
The Spartans begin their opportunity-filled 2009 campaign on Saturday, September 12, as they travel to Westminster, Md., for the McDaniel College Green Terror Challenge at 10:30 a.m.