Before his days overseeing construction and renovation at Surry Community College, Bob Demcio was once a promising runner who made it all the way to the 1972 Olympic time trials.
Demcio, who has served as SCC's Facilities Project Manager for the past decade, was inducted into the Rockland County (N.Y.) Track & Field Hall of Fame on May 19 at the Paramount Country Club in New York along with the three other members of his 1970 Clarkstown High School sprint medley relay team. Demcio's team was Clarkstown's first state relay champion and the Rams certainly didn't take the easy path to get there, emerging victorious despite being unseeded. Demcio's team clocked a winning time of 3:40.5, equaling a county record that still stands today.
"It was actually the second-fastest time in the United States at the time it was run, and it still is. We always laugh about that record, that it can't be broken," Demcio said. "Number one, they don't run this event any more, which helps a lot. Number two, they don't run anything in New York anymore. Everything is in meters now."
In his acceptance speech for the team, Demcio explained how Rockland County Track Hall of Fame coach Joe D'Innocenzo pushed he and teammates Mike Fries, Mike Meehan and Tom Vanderbilt from unseeded to state champ.
Bob Demico (far left) and teammates Mike Fries, Mike Meehan and Tom Vanderbilt were Clarkstown's first state relay champion and the Rams certainly didn't take the easy path to get there, emerging victorious despite being unseeded. Demcio's team clocked a winning time of 3:40.5, equaling a county record that still stands today.
"At the state meet in Rochester, New York, we missed being in the first heat with the faster runners by tenths of a second. Since the second heat was running first, we had to run against the clock in order to beat the faster teams that would be running in the first heat," Demcio recalled. "Coach Joe D'Innocenzo told us not to run against the other teams in our heat but to concentrate and run to our best ability, and he was confident we would win. We kept our concentration and ran our hearts out, and we just about lapped the other teams in our heat. ”
Demcio credited Coach D'Innocenzo with helping to mold the team into fine young men and with teaching them track skills that were also life lessons that they have carried with them to this day. After graduating from Clarkstown High, Demcio went on to run at the University of Tennessee. As a sophomore for the Volunteers, Demcio earned a shot to run in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Time Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
"Things were very different back then. Everything today is so specialized, it's hard to describe, but back then the relays weren't looked on as very prestigious unless you were some superstar. A lot of guys didn't want to be in relays and they were actually looking for volunteers. I didn't care how I went. I would have carried the water bucket," Demcio said of the chance to represent his country.
Unfortunately, it was at the time trials in Oregon where Demcio's running career came to an abrupt end.
"I wanted to go be on what they then called the 4-by-200 team. I ran the second leg in the time trails but coming around the curb I was bumped by another competitor and my spike stuck in the turf," Demcio said. "When he hit me my foot stayed stuck but my body turned and destroyed my right leg. At the time, some of the people said I may not be able to walk right again. But I was very fortunate, the surgeons did a super job on me."
And even though his running career was over, it was also during Demcio's time in Knoxville where a decision was made that ultimately would lead him to North Carolina and Surry Community College.
"It was at Tennessee where I met my future wife, Janice. She is from Burnsville and I followed her to North Carolina," Demcio said. "I had been in construction for about 40 years and I used to be a general contractor in Mount Airy. I owned a company that closed in 2008 when the recession hit, and that is when I came to work for the college."
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