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Tailback helps his football career at Lafayette College by running on the track team
Jerome Rudolph missed most of his football season.
So this spring the Lafayette College junior tailback decided to double up sports-wise – participating in spring football but renewing his acquaintance with an old flame, so to speak.
“I ran track in 10th and 11th grade (at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga.),” Rudolph said. “I always wanted to go out for track and field. I thought doing it this spring would help me get in better shape and make me a better athlete.”
Rudolph ran the 60-meter dash in indoor track for the Leopards, finishing third in the Patriot League. He competes in the 100 and 200 meters in spring track in addition to anchoring Lafayette’s 400 relay team.
Leopard track coach Julio Piazza couldn’t be happier to have Rudolph.
“Jerome is an immensely talented athlete,” Piazza said. “That shows in his not having run for years and taking third in the 60 indoors. You just don’t do that without natural talent and speed.”
Heading into this weekend’s Patriot League track and field championships at the Leopards’ Metzgar Fields, Rudolph once again figures to be on the medal stand. He has the second-best time in the league in the 100 (fully automatic timed 10.58 seconds to Colgate’s Grahm Tooker’s hand-held 10.55) and the eighth-best clocking in the 200 (22.11).
And Rudolph anchors the Leopards’ 400 relay. The team of junior Michael DiPietro, junior and North Hunterdon alum Nick DeRosa and sophomore Nick Hepp, with Rudolph anchoring, posted the top time in the league with a 41.29 time against Lehigh on April 10.
“I like the relay a lot,” said Rudolph, who majors in economics with a minor in African studies. “It’s the most exciting race. It’s a team effort, and I can see the whole race around the track before I anchor.”
Rudolph has relished getting back to competition after missing most of the football season with a concussion.
“I had a concussion against Penn in September and came back against Columbia (in October) and right after the game I was fine, but I started getting headaches and it escalated from there,” Rudolph said. “After the Columbia game, the doctors ruled me out for the season. They said there was no reason to come back, but right now I am ready to go.”
Rudolph’s speed would surely have boosted the Leopards on the gridiron, but Piazza noted it’s not just talent he brings to any team.
“Jerome is fun to talk to, fun to be around,” said the 23-year veteran Leopard coach. “He’s just such a nice person, an outstanding young man.”
Piazza welcomes multiple-sport athletes to his squad and has two other football players, jumper Carl Knowles and pole vaulter Greg Stripe, on his squad this spring.
“You hardly ever see the three-sport athlete any more,” Piazza said. “It’s good for athletes in some sport to be out for track. They can increase their speed, strength and flexibility.”
Rudolph already has seen the benefits.
“I have more control over my body from running track, and I have stronger legs,” he said.
Rudolph said he’s excited about hosting the league championships.
“I want all victories for myself and my team, of course,” Rudolph. “Track has individual events but it’s still a team sport. And as long as I get better and improve I am happy.”
By BRAD WILSON, The Easton Express-Times