Pat Longobardi — Sports Writer
The SCSU men’s outdoor track and field team is heating up as the season progresses and the bigger meets roll around the corner. The Owls are looking for bigger performances from many athletes on the team.
SCSU is coming off of an indoor season with the program’s best indoor finish in school history at the NCAA Division II National Championships in Mankato, Minn. The Owls managed a total of 13 All-Americans and an NCAA Champion, Nick Lebron, in the heptathlon.
SCSU men’s track and field head coach John Wallin, in his second season, said the team has been doing well and he is looking for some others to have breakout seasons.
“We had a great indoor season,” Wallin said. “After indoor, we decided to redshirt a couple of kids to hold off for 2013 and we knew as a staff that we would have to develop the younger athletes. We like the progression from our freshmen and sophomores especially in the multi-events.
“We are excited about our young kids in outdoor. So far, it has been very good. Twayne [Forth] is much improved and we expect a great outdoor season. Connor [Coleman] was auto invited for the national championships and Nick has freshman eligibility for the outdoor season, which is great.”
The Owls have been waiting to heat up with the amount of depth they have on the roster to eventually jump into the national rankings during the season.
The Owls took nine athletes to the outdoor NCAA Championships in Stanislaus, Calif. in 2011. Coleman, a sophomore, has already reached an NCAA Division II auto invite to the national championship meet with his third-place finish at the UConn Decathlon Invitational last week in Storrs.
“This outdoor season, we have some great young guys,” Wallin said. “The momentum we had from the indoor season we have been building. We have come a long way. We have high expectations and the goal is to win a national championship. Third is nice, but the kids saw the mistakes that we made and the thought they can prevent in the future.”
“Going into the weekend [Metropolitan Championships], I think we are doing all right,” SCSU senior co-captain Stenson Jean-Baptiste said. “In track, there are always places to improve on what you do.”
SCSU senior co-captain Joseph Poulsen said the bar is still high for himself and for the team after a successful indoor season.
“The team has had a very successful indoor season,” Poulsen said. “We pretty much hope to continue that during outdoor. We have conference coming up, then New England’s after that and then nationals. Those are my goals for the team this season.”
“I would like to win the conference, New Englands, and to be an All-American. For the team, we want to win the conference, win at New Englands and to be a podium team at nationals.”
Poulsen has had a first-place finish already this season at the UConn Spring Invitational in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 9:36.28.
The Owls will compete in two meets this weekend with the Larry Ellis Invitational in Princeton, N.J. from April 20-21 and the Roadrunner Express in Mahwah, N.J. on April 22.
With some guys out this portion of the season, Jean-Baptiste, who runs in four events, said there is still time for the team to improve and to feel comfortable on the track.
“I do not feel that I am at the potential that I can be at this point in the season,” Jean-Baptiste said. “In track, there is time where you can do better. I will do what I have to and try to get to the national meet.
“Indoor we had a great season. We brought a lot of athletes to nationals, and we all did what we had to do to bring home the third place title.”