DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's cross country team was picked to finish fifth in the 2011 America East Preseason Coaches' Poll that was released Wednesday by the league office.
Defending champion Boston University was selected to repeat in 2011 as the Terriers collected eight first-place votes for 64 total points, while Albany received the other top vote to earn the second slot with 56 points. Maine followed with 44 points to claim the third spot, edging out Binghamton in fourth with 42 points. Following New Hampshire's 34 points, Stony Brook (29), UMBC (25), Vermont (21) and Hartford (9) rounded out the final four spots.
New Hampshire finished ninth at the America East Championships last season and turned in a 29th-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional.
The Wildcats feature a balanced mix of veteran returners to pave the way for another successful campaign in 2011, and leading the pack this fall will be a pair of local products in seniors Daniel DeCrescenzo (New Milford, Conn.) and Alexander Beaulieu (Merrimack, N.H.), who will both serve as captains. DeCrescenzo is coming off an impressive season on the track, highlighted by a runner-up performance in the 5,000m at the America East Indoor Championships. Beaulieau turned in a strong showing at the 2010 New England Championships as he finished 53rd overall to pace the Wildcats in the 318-runner field.
The 'Cats will also count on junior Kent Harlow (Burnt Hills, N.Y.), graduate student and captain Andrew Dionne (Westerly, R.I.) and sophomore Joseph Jourdain (Hudson, N.H.) for experience and depth this fall. Harlow and Dionne were the team's top two finishers at the America East Championships, placing 35th and 38th, respectively. Jourdain submitted an impressive rookie campaign as he paced the squad at the NCAA Northeast Regional and continued to shine on the track, where he competed in the 5,000m at the USATF Junior National Championships.
New Hampshire will look to get a boost from a talented class of incoming freshmen, including Sam Gagnon (Hooksett, N.H.) and Jeff Moretti (Guilford, Conn.). On the track, Gagnon won the state title in the 3,200m and went on to place sixth in the event at the New England meet in a personal best time of 9:13, while Moretti finished ninth at the New England Cross Country Championships last fall with a personal best of 9:24 in the 3,200m and 4:20 in the mile.
The Wildcats open the 2011 season on Saturday, Sept. 3 when they host Providence and Maine at 11:30 a.m.