2003 cross country preview
Runners look to get it done
By Ben Risinger
Sports Information Director
Head coach Derek Stanley looks for his runners to makes waves this season as Bluffton fields one of the best teams in recent school history on both sides of the equation.
"I feel like the transition is finally over," Stanley said. "This is the start of what I wanted to do to build the program to a respectable level."
Last season the men finished fifth in the HCAC, with the women placing sixth (one point behind Manchester). The womens team then went to the Regional championships and placed 20th out of 33, with the men finishing 30th. This year Stanley wants his team to be competitive at all meets this season, hoping to raise the level of the program one more notch.
"The team is now used to a different type of training," Stanley said. "They've had a couple of years to adapt to the mileage and to what I expect. They understand what needs to be done and are running in the summers now too."
The Beavers lost some quality athletes, but according to Stanley, recruiting went very well with a good number of new faces on both the men's and women's teams.
Stanley looks for juniors Roy Kaplan (Akron/Butchel) and Andy Schiefer (Bucyrus/Wynford) to help lead the men's team along with a good core of incoming freshmen. "They (Kaplan/Schiefer) will be the experience of a young team," Stanley said. Freshmen Justin Crites (Archbold/Archbold) and Dave Espinoza (Toledo/Whitmer Senior) will give the returning players a run for their positions. Dan Rosebrock (Napoleon, Napoleon) and Patrick Cooley (Ludlow Falls/Milton Union) round off the returners for the men. Jordon Bruner (Wauseon/Pettisville), Ben Hershberger (Baltic/Garaway) and Johnny Ichrist (Toledo/Whitmer Senior) complete the newcomers for the team.
The women return a strong core of runners for 2003. Leading the way will be Lauren Borga (New Philadelphia/New Philadelphia), Carrie Hudecek (Chesaning, Mich./Chesaning Union), Jennifer Creamer (Westerville/Westerville South) and Rachel Szydlowski (Toledo/Woodward). Freshmen Lauren Bailey (Columbus/Upper Arlington) and Laurie Sanford (Lancaster/Berne Union) will most likely fill the fifth spot for the women. "We need for a handful of other women to step up and help give depth," Stanley said. Lindsay Bryant (Liberty Center/Liberty Center), Rebekah Diehl (Sterling/Smithville), Jennifer Niedermier (New Washington/Seneca East), Rachel Noirot (Wauseon/Wauseon), Alica Stanko (Findlay/Liberty-Benton) and Stephanie Welch (Berne, Ind./South Adams) finish the women's squad.
In the Heartland conference, Stanley hopes for the men to surprise people, with the women's side having to work hard to make a good showing. He is very confident, acknowledging the fact that his team has progressed faster than anticipated. According to Stanley, the time to rise to the occasion may be right around the corner.
"On so many different levels it's a new, good program," Stanley said. "We have made great strides to get to the level we are at now."