YORK, Pa. – "We have a shot this year," York College women's track & field head coach Erick Camodeca said, as he takes the reigns of the program this season. "As long as we come together and work hard throughout the season, I see no reason why we would not be in one of those top two spots come conference championships."
High hopes and high expectations from the new Spartan mentor as Camodeca embarks on his first year at the helm of the women's program. And yet those expectations are justified as the Green and White sport quite possibly their most talented squad in recent memory.
One of the main reasons for that optimism is the return of a pair of All-Capital Athletic Conference champions from last year. Mandy Parshall and Caitlin Rizzardo return for their senior campaigns with the Spartans as two of the most decorated student-athletes in the history of the program. Parshall is a four-time league champion, having won the 800 and 1500 in each of the past two seasons, while Rizzardo has been the CAC pole vault winner in all three of her collegiate seasons.
"Those two are a huge part of what the program has accomplished and what we will look to accomplish this year," Camodeca said of Parshall and Rizzardo. "They bring a drive to win that helps all of our athletes. We are really excited to see what they can do in their senior seasons."
Overall, the Spartans sport an exceptionally young roster as 19 of their 28 student-athletes are either freshmen or sophomores. That puts a tremendous amount of leadership responsibility on York's upperclassmen, a group totaling only four seniors. However, Camodeca believes those upperclassmen have already and will continue to do an outstanding job of leading this year's team.
"Our leaders have done an exceptional job so far this season," Camodeca beamed. "Ally Montello in particular has done tremendous work in leading our team. Despite us only having relatively few upperclassmen, I truly believe that they are the right ones to lead."
Adding to York's exceptionally positive outlook to this year is the new class of Spartan rookies. The Green and White feature several talented newcomers, including Megan Phillips and Laura Rowlands (a provisional qualifier for NCAA nationals in triple jump during the indoor season), who could make huge splashes in just their first collegiate year.
"We are very pleased with the new student-athletes that we have this season," Camodeca said. "These are going to be the ones that show we are here and ready to compete. They are going to be real keys to our success in 2011 and in the years to come."
Overall, the Green and White understand that to reach their goals for this season, they need to show up everyday and put in the hard work.
"That is the bottom line right there, show up and do the work," Camodeca said. "If our team comes together and takes seriously what we are trying to accomplish here as a program then I truly think we will be right there at the end. I believe we have the talent, now we have to put the work in to be ready for conference time."
The Spartans will have some added incentive to be ready for mid-April's Capital Athletic Conference Championships as York is set to host the annual meet on Saturday, April 16.
"No doubt about it, we definitely want to put on a great performance on our home track," Camodeca said. "We want to be up there with the best our conference has to offer and no better place to prove that than right here at home."
The Green and White officially open their 2011 outdoor campaign on Friday, March 4, as they begin competition at the two-day University of North Florida Spring Break Invitational. The Spartans then embark on their home slate when they host the York Relays on Saturday, March 12.
"We are ready to get it going and excited for what we can accomplish," Camodeca said. "This season has promise to be a very special one."
PHOTO: Caitlin Rizzardo, the three-time CAC pole vault champion, prepares for a vault during a meet last season. Courtesy of Zach Clabaugh - www.sharpedgefoto.com