YORK, PA – The two-time defending Capital Athletic Conference men's cross country team champion York College Spartans enter the 2013 with high expectations for the year. A new head coach will lead the Spartans as Stephen LoBianco, a long-time Spartan assistant under former mentor Erick Camodeca, takes over a talented and confident squad.
The Spartan optimism is headed by the return of national All-American Tim Hartung (Mohnton, Pa./Governor Mifflin). Hartung is a two-time national qualifier and finished seventh at the national championships last November. Hartung was named the Capital Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year and also won the conference championship for the second straight year.
While his accolades were plentiful, LoBianco believes that Hartung can achieve even more.
"I want to get Tim back to the big show this year for bigger and better things. I would love to see him pull in a top three finish," says the first year Spartan mentor. "We have talked a lot and we have a goal in mind but we will just keep that between the two of us."
While Hartung is clearly the Spartans' top runner, the depth of talent on this squad is clearly what will make the Green and White a threat to win their third straight CAC championship.
Junior Michael Stetson (Old Bridge, N.J./Old Bridge), senior Aaron Robertson (Mohnton, Pa./Governor Mifflin), senior Craig Eppler (Bethlehem, Pa./Northampton), and junior Connor Simpson (Warminster, Pa./William Tennent) give LoBianco a very strong core of returning runners. It is a group that is packed well together and gives York a fantastic chance to score well in races throughout their schedule.
"The biggest thing I am looking at for this team is our spread. I want our guys one through seven to have the smallest possible spread," says LoBianco. "I would really like to have that spread be around one minute. If we can accomplish that, we could be a very good team."
Robertson finished seventh at the CAC championships to earn first team honors while Simpson was a second team finisher, placing 12th for the Spartans. Eppler placed 22nd at the CAC championships while Stetson placed 24th in the 91-runner field.
LoBianco believes the Spartans are primed to step onto the national stage this year.
"I am looking at getting our top five guys in the top 75 of the region this year. If we can do that, we get another top ten finish in the region with a chance to get the team to nationals. I believe we have the guys to do it this year."
LoBianco looks to a pair of freshmen in Matt Hayes (Drexel Hill, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) and James Gonzales (Baltimore, Md./Dundalk) to push their way into the top five during their first collegiate campaigns.
"Matt and James have looked really good and I expect them to each play a role in our success as freshmen. They both put in the work over the summer and they have been both training with our top five," says LoBianco.
LoBianco is quick to point out that the program is as healthy as it has ever been. The York roster features 21 runners and it's not just strength in numbers.
"We have the greatest depth that we have ever had," says LoBianco. "When I got here as an assistant, we had seven guys and didn't have anywhere close to the talent that we have now. This is a talented team and I am excited to see what we can achieve."
The Spartans open up the season on Saturday, August 31 when they travel to Lehigh University. The Green and White will make the squad's lone home appearance on Saturday, September 14 at the Rich Achtzehn Classic at John Rudy Park in York.