If someone asked men’s cross country captain Joe Poulsen about his team being selected fourth in the Northeast-10 preseason poll he would say the ranking is “completely irrelevant.”
“We have our goals as a team and whether we’re ranked first, fourth, or last, the goals remain the same,” said Poulsen.
Head Coach John Wallin said he has the same outlook.
“I can see why they voted us to be in that position,” he said. “I feel we’re much better than that, if not, the best team in region. We just have to prove it.”
Last season, the cross country team ranked sixth in the final USTFCCCA Regional Poll after also placing sixth overall at the NCAA East Regional Championships.
At the New England Championships, Poulsen placed with a time of 25:04 but the team finished 24th of out 47 teams in the meet.
Poulsen leads the program this season as the new captain but he said he feels no pressure having the position.
Wallin, entering his first season at Southern as coach, said he would like to see Poulsen lead by example.
“I don’t expect him to be too vocal if he doesn’t have to be,” said Wallin. “I chose him because he continues to be himself.”
Wallin was named in June and has coached over 100 All-Americans, 45 men and 59 women, for Dartmouth and Adams State College according to southernctowls.com.
Before coaching, he was a student-athlete at SCSU. He served two years as captain, earned All-American honors as a junior and senior while qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a sophomore.
“Coming back to Southern was a goal of mine from the moment I left,” said Wallin. “I love Southern and had a great experience here.”
He said he does not have many concerns entering his first season, as he just wants to keep things going forward.
“It’s a big thing for me to help keep the tradition of Southern track going,” he said.
Poulsen said he anticipates a breakout season from sophomore runner Tyler Fredsall.
As a freshman last year, Fredsall competed in the Northeast-10 Conference Championships for the Owls.
“(He) came back extremely fit and without a doubt, he will be the most improved runner,” Poulsen said.
Coach Wallin also said it is a big deal for Fredsall to come back better this year because according to him, he was the runner that needed to work on his game the most last season.
Fredsall joined the team as a walk-on last year after he was cut from indoor track. He was invited to return by the previous head coach, Shawn Green after a few spots opened up for outdoor track. Fredsall placed last in his first three races and only beat a few people the entire season.
Fredsall said he knows he had to make a lot of improvements if he wanted to compete at a respectable level.
“I just dedicated myself and worked really hard over the summer,” said Fredsall. “I think I’m more focused than I’ve ever been on anything and I’m setting very big goals for myself.”
Based on what he has seen during practices, Wallin said Fredsall is now one of the top runners on the team and is a good example to follow considering his underachieving freshman season.
“He went above and beyond the call of duty,” said Wallin.
Besides Fredsall, Wallin also said everyone on the team has improved drastically from last year. He
expects every runner to have a breakout season in 2010.
As a senior, this is Poulsen’s last opportunity to take the team where he has yet been able to take it for as long as he’s played for the Owls.
“I would personally love for the team to make NCAAs. That has been the biggest goal for the team every year I’ve been at Southern,” said Poulsen. “We have a young, determined, and very talented group of runners who are certainly capable of achieving this.”