ASU Harriers Head to NCAA West Region, Look for NCAA Championships Berth
Nov. 11, 2002
On The Starting Line
Following a week off from competition, the Arizona State cross country program returns to action at the NCAA West Region Championships in Palo Alto, Calif., Saturday. The Sun Devil men and women will look to finish as one of the Top 2 teams to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, Nov. 25. If neither team earns an automatic berth, each could still be selected as one of 13 at-large teams.
The Sun Devils remained in the national polls with the women holding fast at No. 17 and the men improving three spots to No. 22. The rankings, released Nov. 4, show No. 2 Stanford as the only team from the West ranked higher than that of the Sun Devil women. Also in the national polls are No. 21 Washington, No. 23 UCLA and Oregon (receiving votes).
On the men's side, No. 1 Stanford and No. 5 Oregon lead the West contingent this weekend. The Sun Devils are the third-highest ranked team in the region with two teams, Cal Poly-SLO and Washington receiving votes.
About the NCAA West Region Championships
Palo Alto, Calif., and Stanford University will play host to the 2002 West Region Championships Saturday. The Top 2 teams will automatically qualify for the 2002 NCAA Championships, held Nov. 25 in Terre Haute, Ind., on the campus of Indiana State. The NCAA selection committee also will select 13 at-large teams to compete in the national event. The Top 4 finishers of each regional race whose team does not qualify for nationals also will be entered into the NCAA Championship race. Here are the teams slated to run at the regional meet:
Men's Teams (29): Arizona, ASU, Boise State, California, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Pepperdine, Portland, Portland State, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Washington, Washington State
Women's Teams (33): Arizona, ASU, Boise State, California, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Pacific, Pepperdine, Portland, Portland State, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Diego State, San Francisco, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UNLV, USC, Washington, Washington State.
Looking Back: The 2001 NCAA West Region Championships
The Sun Devil women finished third at the 2001 NCAA West Region Championships with the men taking fourth in the event held in Tucson, Ariz. Lisa Aguilera led the women with a third-place individual finish while Fasil Bizuneh completed the men's race in fourth place. Both teams would later gain entry into the championships as at-large teams were Aguilera and Bizuneh garnered their second All-America honor.
Looking to Return
After placing eighth in both the men's and women's races at the NCAA Pre-National meet (Oct. 19), the Sun Devils are trying to earn a return trip to Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 25 for the NCAA Championships. For the men, returning to the cold Midwest at the end of the month would mean their second-consecutive appearance in the national meet and third in four years. It also would be just the third time in school history. The women are trying to add a fifth-consecutive year.
The Sun Devils have finished well in the regional event over the past few years. Prior to the 1998 regional event, the highest finish for the men and women were fifth place in 1984 and 1983, respectively. Since then, the women have been a mainstay in the Top 3 with a second-place finish in 2000 and third in 2001 and 1999. The men recorded a school record third-place finish in 1999 before taking fifth in 2000 and fourth a year ago.
Last Time Out: 2002 Pac-10 Championships
Stanford ran away with the men's and women's conference races with the Sun Devil men finishing third and the women finishing second with a program record 59 points. On the women's side, Jessica Scalzo finished sixth to again lead the way while teammates Amy Hastings (10th), Desiree Davila (12th), Cynthia Atencio (15th) and Liz Lindgren (16th).
Fasil Bizuneh (10th) led the way as the Sun Devil men accumulated 85 points in the team race, finishing behind Stanford (19) and Oregon (56). Trailing Bizuneh were JJ Duke (13th), Aaron Aguayo (16th), Ryan Warrenburg (25th) and Ronnie Buchanan (28th).
Fasil Bizuneh became the first male ASU harrier to earn All-America status twice in a career last season with a 22nd-place finish at the NCAA meet. An All-American in 1999 after finishing 19th at the meet, Bizuneh also was named to the All-Pac-10 first team in 1999 and 2001, while also garnering Academic All-Pac-10 accolades in 2001.
Newcomers to the cross country program have already made their respective marks with the Sun Devils as the season nears an end. Jessica Scalzo, a true freshman, has led the women to the finish line in all four races she has run this year. On average, true or redshirt freshman have been the Top 3 finishers for the Sun Devils in each of the six races run this year. Also making an impact have been Amy Hastings, Mandi Fitz-Gustafson and Liz Lindgren. Only one race this year, the ASU Invitational, has seen the first Sun Devil crossing the finish line not be a freshman (Lisa Pohlit).
For the men, Aaron Aguayo has filled in remarkably for an injured Juan Reyes, finishing as one of the Top 3 Sun Devils in each of the four races he has run this year, including a team-best fifth place at the adidas Invitational that opened the year. Jeremy Cramer, Griffin Lee, Derek Pisel and Ryan Warrenburg have also figured into the team finishes this year for the Sun Devils.
Getting Warmed Up For...
Depending upon their respective finishes at the regional race this week, the Sun Devil men and women could be heading off to Terre Haute, Ind., for the 2002 NCAA Championships, Nov. 25. Qualifiers will be announced at a later date.