Track & Field Heads to Sacramento for NCAA Champs

June 5, 2006

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TEMPE, Ariz. - The collegiate season comes to a close this week as members of the Arizona State University track and field team head to the Alex G. Spanos Athletic Complex in Sacramento, Calif., for the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships set for June 7-10.

The NCAA Championships will crown a team champion on both the men's and women's side while also honoring the champions in each event. Those athletes, both individually and on relays, that finish among the Top 8 in their respective events also will earn All-America honors.

The final two days of competition in Sacramento will be carried on television. CSTV will carry action from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Arizona time (8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST) on Friday, June 9, before CBS airs live coverage on Saturday, June 10, between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Arizona (12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST).

ASU will send 13 women and five men to Sacramento this week to compete in the NCAA Championships with five of the women participating in multiple events. The women are represented by Brooke Bennett (3,000m steeplechase), Shauntel Elcock (4x400m), Rachel Ellison (1,500m), Christina Hardeman (400m dash/4x400m), Amy Hastings (10,000m), Victoria Jackson (10,000m), Jacquelyn Johnson (heptathlon), Jenna Kingma (5,000m), April Kubishta (pole vault), Jessica Pressley (shot put/discus), Sarah Stevens (shot put/discus/hammer), Latosha Wallace (400m hurdles/4x400m) and Bridgette Williams (400m dash/4x400m) while the men will send Aaron Aguayo (3,000m steeple), Joshua Kinnaman (decathlon), Kelvin Love Jr. (200m), Ryan Warrenburg (3,000m steeple) and Ryan Zimmerman (triple jump).

The Sun Devils took various paths to Sacramento as the individual competitors either earned an automatic berth into the championships based on their Top 5 finish at the regional meet, an at-large selection following the regional meet, or by recording an NCAA automatic or provisional qualifying mark during the season. Amy Hastings (10,000m), Victoria Jackson (10,000m) and Jacquelyn Johnson (heptathlon) each earned NCAA automatic berths during the season while Joshua Kinnaman was selected from the provisional list in the decathlon. The remaining four men and nine of the women's entries came via Top 5 finishes at the West Region while four women's entries were at-large selections by the NCAA.

They Sun Devils rank highly in several statistical breakdowns heading into the national meet with the women's team scoring well. Arizona State has the most women's entries in the championships (16) and the most in the throw events (five) while holding the second-most distance entries (four) and the third-most entry marks ranked in the Top 10 (eight). Add the men's entries into the mix and the Sun Devil program is tied for the ninth-most entries in the meet (21) while it's 11 Top 10 marks rank tied for fifth. Combined, the distance entries (six) are the second-most, as are the multi-event entries (two), while the entries in the throws (five) are seventh. A young squad, the Sun Devils have the fourth-most freshmen and sophomore entries with 11 while sitting tied for third with six of those entries ranked in the Top 10.

Redshirt freshman Sarah Stevens will be a busy competitor this weekend as she will be one of three women that have qualified and will take part in three events over the course of the championships. Stevens will enter in the shot put, hammer and discus as will Johvonne Hernandez of Syracuse. The third athlete to enter three events is Patty Sylvester of Georgia, who will participate in the high jump, long jump and triple jump.

The Sun Devils finished fourth in the women's team race with 82 points and the men 10th with 26 at the 2006 NCAA West Region Championships held in Provo, Utah, on the BYU campus. Overall, three titles were won by the women as Jenna Kingma captured the 5,000m run, Sarah Stevens won the shot put and the 4x400m relay of Bridgette Williams, Christina Hardeman, Shauntel Elcock and Latosha Wallace capped the day with a victory. The men were led by Aaron Aguayo and Ryan Zimmerman, who placed second in the 3,000m steeplechase and triple jump events, respectively.

The Arizona State women have enjoyed great success this year, placing fourth in the nation in cross country, third at the indoor national track meet and winning their first Pac-10 team title May 13-14 in Eugene, Ore. The head of the program, 10th-year Head Coach Greg Kraft, was recently honored by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as it selected Kraft as the 2006 Women's West District Coach of the Year. The women won five individual titles at the Pac-10 Championships before adding three more at the regional meet and have 16 entries into the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the most of any school in the nation this year.

Jacquelyn Johnson, a two-time multi-event national champion (2004 outdoor, 2006 indoor) and three time Pac-10 Champion (heptathlon in 2004, 2006 and high jump in 2004) also earned honors from the USTFCCCA as she was selected the Women's West District Field Athlete of the Year. Johnson enters the NCAA Championships as the top scorer in the heptathlon after winning the conference crown with a personal-best, NCAA-leading and eighth-best in the world total of 5,987 points. Her score is 154 points ahead of the closest collegiate competitor this season.

Twenty-seven ASU student-athletes were honored with academic honors May 31 as all 27 were selected Academic All-Pac-10 while three women, Brooke Bennett, Rachel Ellison and Victoria Jackson, each earning ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honors. Bennett and Ellison, who were first team selections by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), are now on the ballot for Academic All-America honors while Jackson earned second team.

The following women earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors: Brooke Bennett, Rachel Ellison and Sara Shisslak were first team selections; Becky Holley, Jenna Kingma, April Kubishta, Corey Randall, Cassie Rios, Sarah Stevens, Cara Walker and Jenna Wrieden were second team selections and honorable mention accolades were given to Amy Hastings, Victoria Jackson, Jacquelyn Johnson and Jessie McLaughlin. The following men earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors; Jeremy Cramer, Griffin Lee, Velibor Radejovic and Ryan Warrenburg were first team selections; David Gott, Andy Haas and David Mehlhorn were second team selections while Eric Dall, Ryan Ehler, Joey Heller, Tomas Navarro and Sean Pierce were honorable mention selections.

Seven women and four men headed to Sacramento this week have attained All-America honors at least once in their careers, including seven total athletes that earned the status at the last NCAA Indoor Championships. The returning women include six-time honoree and 2006 indoor 5,000m champion Amy Hastings, three-time honoree and 2004 outdoor heptathlon champion Jacquelyn Johnson and single award winners Jenna Kingma, Victoria Jackson, Sarah Stevens, Jessica Pressley and Christina Hardeman. For the men, Joshua Kinnaman (heptathlon) and Ryan Zimmerman (triple jump) both earned honors this past indoor season while Aaron Aguayo and Ryan Warrenburg both earned the accolade in the steeplechase one year ago in Sacramento.

Last year in Sacramento, the Sun Devil men scored 16 points and placed 17th overall with five individuals and one relay earning All-America accolades while the women did not score a point, but did see Jessica Pressley earn All-America honors in the hammer. The men's 4x400m relay of Rich Allen, Seth Amoo, Domenik Peterson and Lewis Banda combined for a school record 3:00.57 to finish second while Trevell Quinley finished fourth in the long jump. Amoo also placed sixth in the 200m dash to round out the scoring.

With Greg Kraft at the helm of the program, the Sun Devils have competed in eight NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with the men finishing among the Top 20 in the national standings on five occasions, including the past two years, while the women have placed in the Top 20 twice. Last year, the men finished 17th just one year after their best finish under Kraft (10th place in 2004 at Texas) while the women did not score last year, halting a streak of four consecutive Top 30 finishes. The women's highest finish under Kraft came in 2001 when it tied for 14th place.

Three ASU freshmen will compete in the NCAA Championships in their first seasons with the team with the trio combining to enter into five events. Sarah Stevens, after her second meet in a row setting the school record, will compete in the shot put, along with the hammer and discus, while Jenna Kingma is set for the 5,000m run. The lone true freshman in the group, Shauntel Elcock, will compete on the 4x400m relay team.

While the younger members of the team will be competing in their first NCAA meet this week, the championships also marks the end the careers of five valuable seniors. For the women, distance specialists Rachel Ellison and Victoria Jackson, the 5,000m Pac-10 champion, join Christina Hardeman as the seniors headed to Sacramento while Ryan Warrenburg and Ryan Zimmerman each will compete in their final collegiate events for the men.

The women's victory at the Pac-10 Championships gave the program its third trophy this season, adding to the fourth-place finish recorded by the women's cross country team this fall before the indoor track & field squad placed third at the indoor national meet. The Sun Devils will now head to Sacramento where they will look to finish among the Top 4 to secure another trophy for the program's case.

Arizona State's entries rank highly on the list of accepted athletes for the NCAA Championships with eight women's marks and three men's marks ranking among the Top 8 (scoring places). For the men, Aaron Aguayo (steeplechase) and Ryan Zimmerman (triple jump) are both ranked third while Ryan Warrenburg (steeplechase) ranks sixth. On the women's side, Jacquelyn Johnson leads the charge with the top spot in the heptathlon followed by Amy Hastings (fourth - 10,000m), Jenna Kingma (fifth - 5,000m), Sarah Stevens (sixth - shot put & seventh - hammer) and eighth-ranked Victoria Jackson (10,000m) and Jessica Pressley (both discus and shot put).

On May 13-14, the women's squad made history as they captured their first Pac-10 Championship, scoring 154 points, edging defending champion Stanford (151.5) for the crown. The Sun Devils crowned five individual champions on the women's side with Brooke Bennett (3,000m steeplechase), Victoria Jackson (5,000m), Amy Hastings (10,000m), Jacquelyn Johnson (heptathlon) and Sarah Stevens (shot put) winning their respective events. The women's team title is the third outdoor crown won by the program following the men's 1981 Pac-10 title and 1963 Western Athletic Conference crown. The women's victory makes them just the fifth different team to win the Pac-10 crown.

Five women won individual Pac-10 championships this season with four coming two weeks ago. Jacquelyn Johnson opened the victories for the women by securing her second heptathlon crown one week before the championship meet, scoring a personal-best 5,987 points on May 7-8. Two weeks ago (May 14-15) in Eugene, Ore., Brooke Bennett got the women going as she won the steeplechase event at 10:20.08 before Sarah Stevens won the shot put with a school-record toss of 17.42m. The first day of competition closed with Amy Hastings winning the 10,000m run as ASU runners finished first, second and fourth in the race. On the final day of the meet, Victoria Jackson won the 5,000m run with the Sun Devils placing four in the Top 8 of the event to virtually wrap up the team title.

The women were not the only athletes winning titles as two Sun Devil men captured crowns in their respective events. Aaron Aguayo became the first Sun Devil male to win an event three times in a career (individual events only) as he won his third steeplechase title in a row, running a school-record 8:35.04 for his third victory. The next day, Ryan Zimmerman popped a personal-best leap of 16.23m on his third attempt in the triple jump to win.

ASU continued its success in the steeplechase at the Pac-10 Championships as Aaron Aguayo and Brooke Bennett won the men's and women's races, respectively, to give the Sun Devils a sweep of the event for the third year in a row. Aguayo became just the second man in conference history to win the event three times, joining Julius Korir of Washington State as the only two to do so. On the women's side, Bennett's first title was the team's sixth in a row dating back to 2001 when the Pac-10 first held the race for the women. In that time, five different Sun Devils have won with Lisa Aguilera (2002, 2003) winning two titles.

The women's distance runners made a huge contribution to the success of the team as seven women combined to score 71 of the team's 154 points in four races. The women opened with 22 points in the 3,000m steeplechase with Brooke Bennett (10 points), Anna Masinelli (8) and Corey Randall (4) placing first, second and fifth, respectively. The 10,000m run later that night produced 23 points as Amy Hastings (10), Victoria Jackson (8) and Cassie Rios (5) finished first, second and fourth in the event. On the second day of the meet, the 1,500m run produced three points with Jenna Kingma (2) and Rachel Ellison (1) placing seventh and eighth. Needing big points to add pad the team lead, the 5,000m runners collected another 23 points with Jackson (10), Hastings (6), Kingma (4), Bennett (2) and Randall (1) crossing the line in first, third, fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Each year, the coaching staff honors its Pac-10 Championship High Point Award and this year the recipients were Jacquelyn Johnson for the women and Domenik Peterson for the men as each scored the most points for their respective teams. Johnson accumulated 29.0 points to set a single-meet record at ASU, bettering the 25 points earned by Maicel Malone in 1988. Johnson finished first in the heptathlon (10 points), second in the high jump (8), third in the 100m hurdles (6), sixth in the long jump (3) and second with the 4x400m relay (2). Peterson led the men with 15.25 points after placing second in the 200m dash (8), fourth in the 100m dash (5), third in the 4x100m (1.25) and fifth in the 4x400m relays (1).

Jacquelyn Johnson was not the only Sun Devil woman to score more than 20 points in the meet as redshirt freshman Sarah Stevens made a name for herself in her first conference meet. Stevens scored 10 points in the shot put with a school-record toss of 17.42m before placing third in the hammer with a school-record toss of 65.69m to pick up another six points. She capped her first Pac-10 meet with a fourth-place showing in the discus to score another five points. Stevens also became the first Sun Devil woman to win the shot put since ASU joined the conference.

The women were able to win their first team title with many young athletes competing that will return next year. Of the 154 points scored, only 26 will be lost next year as the remaining 128 points came from freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Included in the returning athletes are the Top 2 scorers, Jacquelyn Johnson and Sarah Stevens, as well as champions Amy Hastings and Brooke Bennett.

Multi-event athletes have the tools to compete in numerous events and that was no more evident over the two weekends of competition at the Pac-10 meet by Joshua Kinnaman. The Sun Devil sophomore finished second in the decathlon for the second time in his career before returning to Eugene, Ore., where he competed in the long jump before recording a personal best toss in the discus. Kinnaman, who also competed in the high jump, was called upon to replace sprinters on both relays where he ran the third leg of the 4x100m relay to help ASU place third before running the third leg of the 4x400m relay to help the squad place fifth overall. In all, Kinnaman was on the track for six races and competed in six different field events over the two weekends, repeating three of the events on the second weekend.

The women broke five records and tied another this outdoor season with two coming at the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago while the men, who broke one at the conference meet, broke three this season. On the track, Amy Hastings broke the 10,000m run mark with a time of 33:17.89 while fellow distance runner Victoria Jackson broke the 5,000m mark at 15:49.03. In the field, Jessica Pressley broke her own shot put mark with a toss of 17.19m only to see Sarah Stevens throw 17.42m at the Pac-10 meet to break the record. Stevens added the record in the hammer to her resume with a throw of 65.69m at the Pac-10 meet. April Kubishta tied the school mark in the pole vault as she equalled the 4.10m clearance of Angela Tavlarides from 2005. On the men's side, Ryan Warrenburg broke the 5,000m run mark held by Aaron Aguayo with his run of 13:43.29. Aguayo reclaimed the mark with his run of 13:40.16 at Stanford before collecting the steeplechase record at the Pac-10 meet with his winning time of 8:35.04.

During the indoor season, five school records were broken with four coming from the women's side of competition. April Kubishta opened the year by breaking the record in the pole vault and has reset the mark on three occasions this season while fellow field event competitors Sarah Stevens (shot put) and Jessica Pressley (weight throw) have taken over the top spot in their respective events. Stevens' mark broke a 23 year-old record while Pressley's topped the mark set in 2001. The other two records came from Amy Hastings in the 5,000m run and Ryan Warrenburg in the 3,000m run. Outdoors, Hastings reset her own 10,000m run mark at the Stanford Invitational (March 31).

Leslie Deniz set the school record in the women's indoor shot put with a heave of 17.03m back in 1983. Three years later, current Sun Devil thrower Sarah Stevens was born. Twenty years after her birth, Stevens bumped Deniz' mark to the No. 2 position after winning the Air Force Invitational with a toss of 17.52m and breaking the 23 year-old record. Deniz' mark also fell during the last outdoor season as Jessica Pressley recorded a toss of 17.05m to break the 22 year-old mark of 17.03m. Stevens then broke Pressley's mark at the Pac-10 Championships with a toss of 17.42m before resetting the standard again, this time with a toss of 17.46m at the regional meet.

TEMPE 5,000
The 5,000m run has become quite a successful event for the Sun Devil men and women this season with nine total athletes having earned regional qualifying marks in the event while setting a pair of school records. On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo (13:40.16), Ryan Warrenburg (13:43.29), Velibor Radejovic (14:03.38), Joey Heller (14:06.07) and Casey Burchill (14:06.96) all qualified for the regional meet. For the women, Victoria Jackson (15:49.03), Amy Hastings (15:52.06), Jenna Kingma (15:59.15) and Corey Randall (16:34.01) made the regional. The women earned 22 points in the event at the Pac-10 meet to solidify the team title. Kingma was the lone Sun Devil to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the event as she won the West Region race.

The Sun Devil women defeated their intrastate rivals Arizona and Northern Arizona at the annual Double Dual over the weekend in Tucson while the men split, defeating the Lumberjacks but falling to the Wildcats. Against NAU, the women won, 118-72, while the men were victorious, 132-40. The women downed the Wildcats, 113-80, while the men fell, 116-86, their first loss to UA in the last six tries.

In the history of the women's track & field/cross country program, Amy Hastings has earned the eighth-most All-America honors with six after capturing three in indoor track and field and three in cross country (the only Sun Devil to do so). Jacquelyn Johnson is tied for 17th with a handful of others after earning her third career accolade (two indoor, one outdoor).

The women's track and field/cross country program has been hot this academic year as the cross country team finished fourth at the NCAA Championships to claim the first trophy for the women's program. Last weekend, the women made history again by finishing third overall at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. That finish was better than the 1991 team's tie for fourth place.

Although the team finished with the bronze medal in the team standings, two individual Sun Devil women won gold in the respective events to claim the program's first national titles since the 1992 indoor season. Amy Hastings won the individual title in the 5,000m run on the first day of the meet before Jacquelyn Johnson took home the title in the pentathlon.

The titles won by Amy Hastings and Jacquelyn Johnson marked the first time in program history that a national title in an indoor distance event and an indoor multi-event had been captured. Hastings' crown is the second distance title ever and the first since 1959 when Alex Henderson won the school's first NCAA title by taking the men's two mile run. The multi-event crown had been won three other times in school history with Dana Collins winning the outdoor pentathlon in 1977 (the first women's national title) before Gea Johnson in 1990 and Jacquelyn Johnson in 2004 won the outdoor heptathlon. All told, the women have now won seven individual and one relay national title indoors while adding 10 individual and three relay crowns outdoor. The men, despite not having won an indoor title, have collected 13 individual and one relay national championship, as well as the 1977 team title.

Eight Sun Devils earned All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships, including six women and both men's entrants. For the women, Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon), Amy Hastings (5,000m), Victoria Jackson (5,000m), Jenna Kingma (3,000m), Sarah Stevens (shot put) and Stephanie Garnett (weight throw) all attained the honor while Joshua Kinnaman (heptathlon) and Ryan Zimmerman (triple jump).

The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships marks the end of the collegiate season.

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