Today: Feb 25, 2024

Men’s cross country looks to continue winning ways

Andrew Anastasio – Sports Writer

Coming off their 18th consecutive Northeast-10 Conference title, the Owls men’s cross country team is preparing to begin their upcoming 2012 campaign.

This past preseason, the Owls were awarded a fifth overall ranking by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Second year head coach John Wallin said the team’s success depends on how they perform in the postseason.

“This is what’s different than most other sports is, we just really need to be good at the NCAA Regional meet,” said Wallin. “If we run very well at that one meet, that kind of dictates great success for our entire season. You have wins and losses during the season, but they’re all really irrelevant. You want to do well at the conference meet, but it’s really the regional meet that dictates whether you have success or not.”

PHOTO COURTESY | SOUTHERNCTOWLS.COM
All-American senior captain Josh Perry.

The captains for this season include seniors Brian Nill and Josh Perry. Wallin said he’s confident that the two can help lead the team.

“Brian Nill is younger than Josh but last year he proved to be one of our best runners,” said Wallin. “Josh Perry is a several time All-American and he’s proven that he can lead our team. He was our number one finisher at the national regional meet last year. Both those guys work very hard and they’re both very good at everything they do. They’re very talented runners who both work very hard.”

This year the roster features only one freshman named Thomas Cassello. In 2011 Cassello placed sixth in the NCCC Cross Country League Championships held in Windsor Locks. Cassello, who represented Bolton High School, posted a time of 16:57 and ran at a pace of 5:28. He said his intention for this season is to make an immediate impact.

“My goal is to become a part of the team and get to know everybody,” said Cassello. “I’m looking forward to getting to know all the guys, and get used to the program. I’m hoping I can make a difference now and in the future.”

Wallin said he’s been impressed with Cassello’s progress thus far.

“He’s done a really good job of learning and jumping in and adapting,” said Wallin. “I’m sure it’s been pretty overwhelming for him mentally and physically, but he’s done a nice job of not worrying about anything and jumping in. He really has no choice being the only freshman. He just goes with the flow and it’s worked so far. Overall he’s done a good job of blending and adapting.”

PHOTO COURTESY | SOUTHERNCTOWLS.COM
Newcomer Thomas Cassello joins the team.

Last year, Perry was named an All-American in the 800 meters both indoor and outdoor and the distance medley relay indoors. He said the team’s objective for this season is to make nationals but keep conversation about such an accomplishment to a minimum.

“Our team goal this year is to make the national meet, but it’s not something that we talk about,” said Perry. “Last year, we talked about nationals everyday and this year were kind of just things fall into place, and give it a good run at the end of the season, but were not going to put any added pressure on ourselves.”

Last year the team placed first in every regular season meet except the conference meet where the team finished second. Despite an undefeated regular season effort, the team placed sixth overall at the regional meet. Wallin said the team’s focus this season is to walk away victorious at regionals.

“Last year we ended up doing very badly at the regional meet, so you leave the season with a sense of disappointment even though we won so many meets,” said Wallin. “This year, the goal is to win that one regional meet. If were one of the top three finishers, we get to compete at the national championships and have a chance to compete for a national title as a team.”

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