On more than one occasion during the fall season, College of San Mateo track and field head coach Joe Mangan would finish his weekly press conference with a smile on his face.
It was one of those "looking into a crystal ball and liking what you see" type of smiles -- and it stemmed from the still-to-come track and field season.
So how is that smile looking as we are a day away from the first meet of the year?
It's still there, but the grin isn't as wide.
"I'm still excited. But not as excited," Mangan said. "The difference between fall excitement and reality is not quite the same. But I'm still excited. We have our best two (track and field athletes) returning."
The expectations for the 2013 CSM track and field team revolve around Roman Skovronski and Evan Michael -- two of the top athletes in the Coast Conference.
Skovronski, the 400-meter hurdler, returns after a second place finish in the Coast Conference and in Northern California. He then went on to finish fifth in the state before traveling to Indiana and finishing as a finalist during the national junior meet. He's also currently the second-best all-time 400-meter hurdler at CSM.
On the field side of things, McDaniel returns for his second season as a Bulldog.
"He looks to be a dominant force in the Coast, that's for sure," Mangan said.
McDaniel was the Coast Conference champion in the shotput last year and finished second in Northern California in the same event. He was fifth in the discus (seventh in NorCal) and sixth in the javelin.
Additionally, part of the buzz revolves around fellow thrower Anthony Capitulo, who comes back after a strong season with the shot and javelin.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see him be one of the better throwers in the north," Mangan said.
With that trio leading the way, Mangan is looking for a couple of freshmen to have big seasons.
Chief among those is Kevin Kuchtera of Granada High School. He's a hurdler who finished 10th in the 300-meter hurdles at the California state meet. Mangan said Kuchtera is adjusting well to the additional 100 meters and two hurdles, and actually used to race against Skovronski in high school with great success.
Colin Luu of Lincoln will be instrumental in the field events. He was state finalist last year in the discus. Scott Chisea will also factor in with the throwers.
Peninsula Athletic League fans will recognize former 200-meter champion Gabe Ortiz of Sequoia High School. Ortiz underwent surgery his senior year after his time with the Cherokees football team and missed out on a lot of the track season. But he's back this year.
"He looks strong," Mangan said.
Additionally, runners from Burlingame and Menlo-Atherton high schools will factor into the short distance events given that Mangan has very few returners there.
"We should have a pretty strong 4x400 team this year," Mangan said. "We'll see what happens with that. At least it should be the most consistent -- more consistent than what we had six or seven years ago and they made the state final."
Mangan called the women's side of his team, "a developing story."
"Somebody is going to continue our run at having a woman in the state meet," he said. "We've always had somebody." As of right now, who that somebody is very unclear.
It should also prove to be a very visible year for the track and field facility at CSM -- the Bulldogs are hosting six events this year including the state final May 17 and 18.
MARIN 4, CSM 1
The Bulldogs fell to 2-6 overall in non-conference play with a 4-1 loss to Marin College. The loss comes on the heels of losses to De Anza, Ohlone and Diablo Valley colleges bookended around a 17-8 win over Solano College.
Former Burlingame Panther Zac Grotz was more than solid on the mound for CSM. He went eight innings, giving up seven hits and just one run. He struck out five.
But the CSM bullpen surrendered four runs in the top of the ninth to increase Marin's advantage 4-0.
Ryan Atlas drove in CSM's only run on a ninth-inning double, scoring Dane Vande Guchte who had doubled earlier in the frame.
The College of San Mateo softball team is ranked No. 1 in Northern California and No. 2 among the state's 85 teams in this week's official polls of the California Community College Fast Pitch Coaches Association.
CSM (10-1) was ranked third in NorCal and fifth in the state in the preseason poll and moved up in the first regular season, bi-weekly rankings.
Cypress College (2-0) remained No. 1 overall.
The Bulldogs started the season 10-0 before losing their first game Tuesday, 3-2, at San Joaquin Delta.