The men’s track and field team will rely on senior leadership and team depth to bring home its fourth straight New York State Collegiate Track Conference title.
Head Coach Jim Nichols said the South Hill squad is already hitting the spring season in full stride. Though the indoor and outdoor seasons have different events, Nichols said the preparation will remain the same.
“Every season is unique, but any team with depth and a lot of bodies is going to do well,” he said. “We lost a lot of good seniors, but we look forward to the challenge of being as good as we’ve been in the past.”
With All-Americans sprinters Chris Mastrosimone ’11 and Max Orenstein ’11 having graduated, the squad is much younger than it has been. While Nichols said he doesn’t see the Blue and Gold’s youth as a burden, he said he is relying on the seniors to lead the team.
“They set the tone for the level of success they want to achieve,” he said.
The Bombers’ leadership this season will begin with captains Dan Craighead, Travis Johnson and Doug Koury.
Koury was named captain despite missing the entire spring season when he was studying abroad. He competed in the heptathlon last season, won the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships in the 800- and 1,600-meter relays as a sophomore and was named Empire 8 Rookie of the Year as a freshman.
Koury acknowledged the loss of some great senior leadership from last year’s graduating class, but he said he and his classmates can effectively handle the responsibilities that come with the position of captain.
“Us three as captains don’t really act any differently from any other seniors,” he said. “The rest of the team looks up to us for advice on how to cope with making the transition from high school to college track because it can be much more stressful.”
Junior Alec Svoboda should be a key contributor this spring among the team’s underclassmen. Svoboda will be making the transition from competing in the heptathlon indoors to the decathlon outdoors. Koury said the points Svoboda registers in the decathlon could make or break the South Hill squad’s finish at championships.
“When you can send somebody who can actually finish a decathlon, it helps so much at states and getting those points that other schools can’t get because they don’t have an athlete who can finish one of those,” Koury said.
Svoboda’s best event was the long jump, as he finished in fifth place at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference Championships on May 7 in Troy, N.Y.
Co-captain Dan Craighead said senior thrower Jusan Hamilton has taken on a leadership role and led by example during the preseason.
“I know he’s been working really hard for a long time, and he’s made some incredible throws,” Craighead said.