March 5, 2008

2008 Women's Track Preview

The York College women’s track and field team opens their 2008 campaign as one of the youngest yet arguably most talented squads that head coach Rebecca Lankford has led in her 13 years at the helm of the program.

“We have a very young and inexperienced team this season,” Lankford said. “But at the same time we have some very athletic kids who should do well for us.”

Not a single senior can be found on the Spartan roster for 2008 and altogether only five athletes return from last season’s fourth place finish at the Capital Athletic Conference championships. Included in those five returnees is sophomore Alaina Smelko and junior Lauren DeSimone, both of whom assume captains’ duties in 2008. Smelko is set to be one of the Spartans’ top athletes as she earned second-team All-CAC honors for her performance in the triple-jump at last year’s championships. The sophomore is the highest returning points scorer from last season tallying 54.5 points during her freshman campaign and will compete in both jumping and sprinting events in 2008. DeSimone, one of only four juniors on the team, will look to be one of the Spartans top sprinters. As a captain and an upperclassman, her leadership will be vital to the Spartans’ success in 2008 as she helps the younger athletes adjust to the collegiate level.

“Alaina and Lauren are great assets to our program,” Lankford said. “They each have great ability and will help this squad both on and off the track.”

The sprinting core of Smelko and DeSimone will be bolstered by the return of sophomore Terah Bloemer. The trio should provide consistency and quality in the sprints.
“Sprinting is one of the areas which we have the most experience,” Lankford said. “We should be able to capitalize on that experience and be very competitive in these events.”

The long, triple, and high jump should be strong events for the Spartans this season as not only do they feature Smelko but also freshman Allyson Montello. Montello’s athleticism will allow her to compete in a variety of jumping events and even find her time on the track. Fellow newcomer Kala Haltner will provide valuable depth in the jumps.

In the pole vault, juniors Anna Hershner and Kristen Cronise will be joined by talented freshmen Caitlin Rizzardo and Andrea Bezzek. All four will battle for the top spot this year and the healthy competition should make each one better every day.

“Our jumpers and pole-vaulters are solid,” Lankford said. “I am looking forward to them performing well each meet.”

In the throwing department, the Spartans are extremely young as they feature a trio of freshmen. Caitlin Mahan, Mackenzie Dolan, and Jessie Berry are all talented athletes who will only improve as the season and their collegiate careers progress.

“Our throwers are young, but that does not mean that we cannot be competitive,” Lankford said. “All three of our throwers are talented and will only become better as they hone their craft.”

The Spartan distance runners should prove to be another strong point of the York roster. Sophomore transfer Melody Parshall put in an All-CAC performance this past cross-country season and should be able to bring that momentum over to the track. Junior Megan Rippel joins the green and white in her first season competing at York and should contribute in the distance races. Five freshmen make up the bulk of the Spartans distance division. Claudia Hess, Laura Colantuono, Mackenzie Kauffman, Liz Dende, and Megan Sauer are each strong runners who will vie for high finishes at each meet this year and will gain valuable experience that will pay dividends in the future.

“Our distance runners could turn out to be our most successful unit,” Lankford said. “With time and hard work, each of them will be very good.”

Overall, Lankford is pleased with where the Spartans are at the beginning of the 2008 campaign.

“We have a great deal of talent throughout our lineup,” Lankford said. “I am excited to see where we go and the growth and development that occurs this season.”

The Spartans open their outdoor season on Saturday, March 8, when they travel to Salisbury University for the Salisbury Invitational.

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