Paul Wilson was possibly the greatest surprise of the 2001 Husker cross country season, and he seems to be ready for another standout season in 2003. Providing senior leadership, Wilson will fill one of the top five positions for the team, although he must give a consistently strong effort every time out for the Huskers to get back to the NCAA Championships.
"We've seen enough great things from Paul Wilson to know that when he is in good condition, he will be running at a high level," Head Coach Jay Dirksen said. "He ended his sophomore season on a high note, then suffered an illness. Physically, I think he is in the best shape of his life right now, and we expect great things from Paul this year."
Wilson started the 2002 season with sinus problems that required him to sit out the first four meets of the season. After a few weeks of rehab and training, he began his season at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark. Finishing in 64th place, Wilson crossed the line fourth for the Huskers with a time of 31:54.40. After a solid first race, Wilson was unable to finish any higher in the Husker ranks at the Big 12 Championships or NCAA Midwest Regional.
The track season was also up and down for Wilson. After redshirting during the indoor season, Wilson competed for the first time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the spring. Running in the cold, wind and rain at the Nebraska Twilight in May, Wilson won the 3,000-meter steeplechase by nearly one-half minute, clocking a personal-best 9:23.93. Making the team that competed at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, Wilson competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase but finished 11th in 9:42.54.
Named the most improved member of the team, Wilson provided outstanding depth to an already strong Nebraska men's cross country team. His 28th-place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regionals was crucial to the Huskers' selection for an at-large berth to nationals. At nationals, Wilson ran his best race of the season, as he crossed the line 3rd for the Huskers and 169th overall.
A late addition to the team, Wilson joined NU in the fall after a tryout period. Following a solid performance at the Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational where he competed unattached, Wilson was welcomed to the squad.
Coached by his mother Lynn Wilson, Paul finished third at the 1999 Nebraska Class C cross country championships. He also helped Wahoo by placing eighth in 1998 and 21st in 1997. He also qualified for the 2000 Nebraska Class C state meet in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, but did not place.
The son of Mark and Lynn Wilson, Paul was born Sept. 5, 1981. Wilson's father Mark was an outstanding middle distance runner, scoring for Missouri in the Big Eight Championships. Wilson has two sisters, Jessica, 28, and Phoebe, 26. Paul is an education major. On Aug. 30, 2003, Paul married the former Tara Schmidt of Stromsburg, Neb.