John Stoudt is excited about his cross country team heading into his second season at Franklin & Marshall. With his first recruiting class under his belt, the Diplomats are making strides in the long race back to cross country prominence. The 2009 squad will feature 10 first-year runners and five returnees, headlined by Ryan Bell and Franklin Dekker. The return of Erik Olsen, who missed last year, will only help the team.
"Ryan is poised for a good season," said Stoudt. "He was strong a year ago and had a good summer this year."
A second-place finisher at the Run for the Roses last year, Bell shaved over 16 seconds off of his freshman finish at the 2007 Centennial Championships. Dekker finished in 12th place at F&M's home meet a year ago, but has been available for only eight races over the past two years.
"Getting Erik back and keeping Franklin healthy and contributing will be crucial for our team's success this year," says Stoudt.
Stoudt projects the rest of the top eight runners to come out of the class of 2013.
"We have three types of runners this year," Stoudt jokes, "young, younger and youngest."
Stoudt made no bones about the immediate impact he would need from his first incoming class during the recruiting process, letting all ten of his new runners know he needed them to start scoring on the season's first Saturday. Having had strong training camps, Angelo Arce (Smoketown, Pa.), Francis Blancero (Staten Island, N.Y.) Greg Duckloe (Stroudsburg, Pa.), and Josh Wesalo (Owings Mills, Md.) will likely do just that. It is not just those four freshmen that have Stoudt excited.
"As a class, the freshmen ran well and have been extremely competitive amongst themselves," notes Stoudt. "They bring a great attitude and have embraced the fact that they will be called upon from the outset to start this program down a new course."
The Diplomats will start down that course on Saturday at the Delaware Valley College Invitational.