The York College women’s cross country squad opens the 2009 season with realistic expectations of ascending the highly competitive Capital Athletic Conference ladder. After finishing third in the CAC Championships in each of the previous two campaigns, the Spartans are primed to take another step forward, pressing league stalwarts Salisbury and Mary Washington for the top two spots. Sporting a roster filled with talented experience, and bolstered by an influx of energetic newcomers, the Spartans have the opportunity to become one of the top teams in the conference this season.
“We believe we have a lot of pieces to be a very strong team this year,” Spartan head coach Rich Achtzehn said. “We have runners who have experienced good success at the collegiate level and runners who have the talent to be right there in the end. This could be a very exciting season for us.”
Leading the pack for the Spartans is senior All-CAC performer
Melody Parshall. Since coming to York in 2007, Parshall has been
nothing short of outstanding during her two full seasons in the
Green and White. Parshall captured 2007 first-team All-CAC honors
while also nabbing league Rookie-of-the-Year accolades after her
fifth-place showing at her first conference championships. She then
backed up that showing in 2008 with yet another first-team
all-conference performance and enters this year looking for
“Melody is an exceptional runner,” Achtzehn commented on the senior standout. “She is easily one of the top runners we have had here in my time coaching cross country. The work she has put in over the previous two seasons and the experience she has gained could lead to big things this year. We are all excited to see her perform.”
The York squad actually sports a pair of CAC Rookie-of-the-Year honorees on their current roster as sophomore Corie Thompson took home the accolade following last season’s 2008 CAC Championships. She turned in a ninth-place finish at the 2008 championships which also allowed her to secure second-team All-CAC honors in just her rookie campaign. Along with Parshall, Thompson competed at last year’s NCAA mid-east regionals providing her with the opportunity to run with some of the nation’s top cross country performers. And now with a full season of collegiate experience firmly under her belt, Thompson is primed for an even better season in 2009.
“We definitely have a solid 1-2 punch with Melody and Corie,” Achtzehn raved. “Corie’s potential is so great especially with her experiencing so much success as a freshman last year. She is a hard runner who works every day and really wants to get better and to hone her craft. We are going to look for Corie to be a real force in every meet this season.”
Along with Parshall and Thompson, the Spartans return a total of seven runners from last season.
Senior Terah Bloemer and juniors Laura Colantuono, Liz Dende, Claudia Hess, and Mary Riley bring significant experience to the roster and will not only look for quality times themselves but will also be able to mentor the younger Spartan runners.
“We certainly have a great group of returners,” Achtzhen said. “These student-athletes each bring something different to the table, and each will be able to help us reach our goals this year.”
With the addition of seven newcomers to the Spartan squad, the 2009 roster is one of the deepest in Achtzehn’s tenure. Joining the Spartans this season are Gabrielle Harbin, Chelsea McCracken, Danielle Patton, Rebecca Sandrik, Olivia Schleicher, Katherine Schmidt, Amy Stickle, and Tuesday Wilson. Wilson will look to be York’s top rookie as she possesses a strong cross country background. Hailing from nearby Eastern High School, Wilson has the talent to compete for York’s top spot in just her freshman campaign.
“Our new runners definitely bring added talent to our roster,” Achtzehn said. “But at the same time, they will have to learn how to compete at the college level. Hopefully that transition will be smooth and quick so that they can be in competition for top spots right away.”
As the Spartans begin 2009, Achtzehn knows that for the Green and White to ascend the CAC ladder, they will need to mesh and peak at the right time.
“We want to be competitive throughout the season,” Achtzehn said. “But overall we want to be sure that we are hitting our peak at the CAC Championships on November 7. We have one of the best opportunities in my career here to be right there with Salisbury and Mary Washington at the end of the year, but it is going to take a lot of hard work and an entire team effort.”
The Spartans officially begin their quest on Saturday, September 12, as they travel to Westminster, Md. for the McDaniel Green Terror Challenge. Race time is set for 10:30 a.m.