2001 ASU Track and Field Outlook
Jan. 25, 2001
The gun is up for another season of Arizona State track and field, and with it, the Sun Devils' expectations.
Riding the screaming momentum of recent success, ASU has been shouldered with a new burden: to not only succeed in this second season of the new millennium, but to demonstrate its staying power, to erase any notions that its presence among the top schools in what is arguably the nation's best conference is a novelty, to illustrate that the road behind is infinitely shorter than the one they plan to travel ahead.
'No longer is Arizona State a surprise in this conference,' fifth-year head coach Greg Kraft said. 'People realize we're going to be a factor in the conference meet. The dynamics within the Pac-10 have changed and much of that has to do with our presence.'
ASU was assuredly a factor in the conference meet last season, as the men placed third, the highest Sun Devil team finish in 17 years. The women also ran away with a bit of school history, notching their first top-five finish since 1995 with a fifth-place finish.And that presence spread to the NCAA Outdoor Championships where the men also recorded their best finish in 17 years, tying for 17th. At the Indoor nationals, the men placed 10th, the first top-10 finish in the program's history. The women were no less impressive, placing at Outdoor nationals for the first time since 1996 (tied for 38th) and finishing just two points shy of a top-10 finish at Indoor nationals.
The Sun Devils will hope that success breeds success as 2001 unfolds, following a history-making fall on the cross country course for the ASU women in which they placed sixth at the NCAA Championships. If ASU tracksters have anything to say about it, that prosperity will continue at Sun Angel Stadium come spring.
Despite the numbers, Coach Kraft wants more from his men's squad this year. 'We started the year with a team meeting and I couldn't help but express my disappointment with the season we had last year,' Kraft said. 'I think we have a group of very capable guys capable of exceeding those expectations.'
The men return veteran leadership in All-American senior sprinters Marcus Brunson and Tony Berrian, but the task at hand will be replacing seven-time All-American Dwight Phillips who placed eighth in the long jump at the 2000 Olympic Games following a prolific collegiate career in the Valley of the Sun.
'When you look at our team, the first big void you see is the absence of Dwight,' Kraft said. 'But when you look at who we return and who we've added, there is no question we're a better team.'
The ASU women will also take to the track much improved, as the Sun Devils return a solid distance squad, a young, but more experienced sprinting corps and a throwing crew eager to contribute.
'We have a chance to make history at Arizona State in that we've never had an across-the-board top-10 finish in cross country, indoor and outdoor track,' Kraft said. 'Our women are definitely capable of doing that.'
ASU will be relying upon All-Americans Kelly MacDonald (distance), Lisa Aguilera (distance), Tiffany Greer (long jump/sprints) and Valerie Williams (jumps) to make that vision a reality. Senior Adrienne Judie, who missed All-America status by one place in the shot put last year at Outdoor nationals, will also be looked upon to aid in the point-scoring total as ASU's leader thrower.
As shown by the long-standing tradition of Arizona State track and field, Coach Darryl Anderson's sprinting corps will play a vital role in the success of the program's performance in 2001.
The aforementioned Dwight Phillips will be a presence not only missed in the jumps, but in the sprints as well. But senior All-Americans Tony Berrian and Marcus Brunson, and senior Michael Campbell have proven themselves capable of continuing that legacy.
'Everything we do this year is going to revolve around these three guys,' Anderson said.
Berrian, who missed the latter part of the outdoor season due to a hamstring injury last year, will be back with a vengeance as one of the premier 400m runners in the NCAA. Last year, Berrian broke his own school record in the indoor 400m twice at the NCAA Championships, finally ending with a school-record time of 46.16. Brunson, who holds only outdoor eligibility this year, owns ASU records in the outdoor 100m (10.10), 55m (6.06) and 60m (6.46) and is also looking to permanently etch his name in the Sun Devil record books. Campbell was the Pac-10 runner up in the 400m and is the Sun Devils' top returning quarter-miler.
'We have a lot of talent on the men's side and we are a very senior-laden team,' Anderson said. 'So with that in mind, it's either now or never. We need to maximize on the talent we have out there.'
Newcomers for the men who look to contribute include hurdler Anthony Galaviz, a junior transfer from Sacramento State, and 400m specialist Jason Barton, a freshman from Chandler, Ariz., and freshman Brandon Kincy, the 60m prep indoor national champion from Denver, Colo.
'With the women, the major expectation is reaching our potential,' Anderson said. 'Last year we were so young and unassuming. We didn't quite understand what we were up against. This year I'm expecting a whole lot more. I feel very confident that we're going to be a team to reckon with at the Pac-10 and even national level.'
Three of the top returning female sprinters are young, but while many were freshmen last year, Coach Anderson will look for continued maturity that coincides with added experience. Those sophomores include Tiffany Greer, Courtnie Ratliff and Joni Smith. Greer's specialty lies in long jump, but she returns as the top 100m and 100m hurdle runner from last season. Ratliff was ASU's top 400m runner last spring, while Smith is also a strong quarter-miler.
The ASU women will not be without some leadership in seniors Sharesa Turner and Arlaina Davis, and junior Christie Winkle. Turner's priorities will be directed towards sprinting this spring rather than jumping and she returns as the top 200m runner from a year ago. Davis will be a 200m and 400m threat, as well as a contributor on both relay teams. Winkle, who has turned in strong performances on the Pac-10 level, returns from using a reshirt season last year to strengthen this group of upper classmen. Junior Candida Coulson returns as ASU's top 400m hurdler from 2000.
Newcomers for the women include Seneca Holmes, a standout hurdler from Waddell, Ariz., who used a redshirt last season.
Much can be said for what distance and cross country coach Walt Drenth has brought to the Sun Devil harriers in the past four and a half years. Under his tutelage, ASU distance running has arrived on both the conference and national scene, both on the cross country course and on the track.
This year ASU loses only one point-scorer (Garrett Jensen) from last year's squad. After an autumn that saw the women place sixth at cross country nationals, there is great optimism for the Sun Devil distance corps in 2001.
'With the progress we've made in cross country the past few years, both on the men's and women's sides, this group has come to a point where their maturity should have an influence on their competitiveness,' Drenth said.
That maturity begins with Kelly MacDonald, a senior who won the conference title at 5000m, was the Pac-10 runner-up in the 3000m, earned All-America honors and competed in the Olympic Trials last year. The senior, who redshirted this past cross country season, will look again to lead ASU in the 5000m at both the conference and national level.
Lisa Aguilera, the 2000 Cross Country Pac-10 and West Region Athlete of the Year, is on fire after breaking every ASU individual cross country record and placing fifth at the cross country nationals in November. Aguilera is expected to make continued strides and will be ASU's leading 1500m runner in 2001.
Seniors Mary Duerbeck and Colleen Burke have established themselves as outstanding 10,000m runners and will challenge for NCAA qualifying marks, while sophomore Brianna Torres is coming into her own, according to Drenth, and is a potential scorer at 1500m. Senior Jennifer Bridgeman is ASU's top returning 800m runner.
The 3000m steeple chase will be a new event in the women's distance lineup with MacDonald and Aguilera standing as the top two candidates going into January training.On the men's side, returning sophomores Fasil Bizuneh and Jeremy Rasmussen were the highest point-getters at Pac-10s last year and will look to be the frontrunners in their respective events. Bizuneh, an All-American who redshirted the 2000 cross country season, owns the 10,000m school record (29:13.61) and will be the Sun Devils' strongest 5000m and 10,000m threat at Pac-10s and nationals.
Rasmussen etched his name into the ASU record books last year as a walk-on redshirt freshman, becoming the first Pac-10 Champion in school history in the 3000m steeple chase. Sophomore Kris Alexander also scored at the conference meet last year in the steeple chase and joins Bizuneh and Rasmussen as potential national qualifiers in 2001.
Also looking to contribute in the 800m and 1500m are junior Brandon Strong, who just missed qualifying for nationals at 1500m last year, senior David Burke and junior Phillip Prince, who redshirted the 2000 track season.
According to Kraft, who coaches the ASU jumpers, the task at hand for the men will be to find a way to make up for the loss of Dwight Phillips. 'We're kind of in a post-Dwight Phillips era,' he said. 'It's going to be a situation where you're not going to be able to replace him, a guy who was eighth at the Olympic Games. What you try to do is replace him by committee. I think we're going to be able to do that, but it will be four people trying to replace one.'
Kraft will look to incoming freshman Ebon Glenn, the 2000 California state high school champion in the high jump, and returning sophomore Casey Clark, a three-time Washington state high school champion, to shoulder that burden. Last year Clark led ASU Sun Devil high jumpers with a mark of 6-10.75, while Glenn's personal best is 7-0.
'They've been champions before so they have it in their makeup to rise to the occasion,' Kraft said.
Rounding out that four-person committee will be pole vaulters Aaron White and Christian Rene Loraine. White, a transfer from Pima C.C., is coming off a redshirt season, while Loraine comes to ASU via Michigan. Neither have competed as Sun Devils, but both will be looked upon to put up big marks come championship season.
The women, no question, will be led by returning All-Americans Tiffany Greer and Valerie Williams, who both have the ability to be national champions according to Kraft. Greer, a sophomore, turned in an outstanding performance in just her first season as a Sun Devil, winning the Pac-10 long jump title and setting the indoor long jump ASU record (21-4). Williams, a senior, set both indoor (41-0.5) and outdoor (42-1.5) triple jump records in her first season at ASU after transferring from Kentucky.
Junior Olivia Mazzaglia will be a strong force in both the pole vault and high jump, while sophomore Jodi Smith, who spent the fall on the women's volleyball team, is the top returning Sun Devil high jumper. 'Those two need to come through for us big in the high jump, significantly at the Pac-10 meet,' Kraft said.
Judie, who missed earning All-America status in the shot put by one place at outdoor nationals last year, holds the school hammer (183-4) and weight-throw (58-2.5) records. Judie scored in the discus, shot put and hammer at the Pac-10 Championships last season, and ASU will rely on her to put up even higher numbers this spring.
Logvin, ASU's top returner for the men in the shot put, discus and hammer, looks to be a potential NCAA qualifier this year after scoring in the discus at last year's conference meet.
Along with seniors Judie and Logvin, ASU will add a mix of young blood to the 2001 squad. On the women's side, newcomers Yolanda Meservey, a junior transfer from Pima C.C., and Sandra Orsund, a freshman from Plymouth, Ind., are in the developmental phase of their throwing careers and will be looking to contribute as well.
'David Wood is going to be a good shot putter,' Dumble said. 'He was a glider last year and is switching to the spin. I think he'll contribute more in the outdoor season because it takes awhile to get the spin down. Vince Mosca is originally from the Phoenix area and I think he can do well at the Pac-10 level.'
Senior Kyle Frerichs and sophomore Armando Monarrez will compete in the decathlon for the men, while Jodi Smith and sophomore Elizabeth Arollo are both returning Pac-10 scorers in the heptathlon. Kraft will be looking for significant improvement from these athletes.