2007 Sun Devil Men's Track & Field Season Outlook
Jan. 18, 2007
2007 SUN DEVIL MEN'S TRACK & FIELD OUTLOOK
Heading into the 2007 season, the Arizona State University men's track and field team will look to rebound from a disappointing 2006 campaign by relying on the strength of several returning veterans while hoping an infusion of newcomers, both young and old, will create the right formula for success.
'Last year was a disappointing season for us on many different levels,' Kraft said. 'I really feel our men are some what under the radar this year and that we will compete for a Top 3 finish in the conference and a Top 10 placement in the national rankings. What I like about our team is we have excellent balance. We have outstanding sprinters and great distance runners and we will need some guys to step up in the middle-distance events to really push us toward the top. Coach Quintana brought in an outstanding distance class this year with five very fine high school athletes, but we will redshirt them this year to better prepare them for the years to come.'
Leading the charge for the Sun Devils will be four-time All-American Aaron Aguayo, who paced the cross country team during the fall and placed ninth at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish by a Sun Devil male in the event. Sprinter Domenik Peterson will be counted upon to lead a resurgence in the speed division and help put the Sun Devils back on top of the podium in the relays. Another veteran that will be counted upon to show continued improvement will be multi-event specialist Joshua Kinnaman.
'The men have some solid competitors leading the way,' Kraft said. 'Aguayo, Peterson and Kinnaman are all very capable of doing big things this year and I look forward to seeing what is on the horizon for each.'
But that trio will not be counted upon to lead the way completely as highly-heralded Ryan Whiting will head into his first collegiate season after redshirting last year and will be joined in his first season by two solid transfers in distance athlete Kyle Alcorn (Oregon) and jump-specialist Matt Turner (CS Fullerton).
In similar fashion to the women's team, depth may play a factor on the men's side as well.
'Many of the areas of the men's team may be a little thin this year, but we are very strong up front,' Kraft said. 'We will cover all of our bases. The key will be several individuals stepping up and preforming like they have in the past and add to that the contributions of the younger athletes. If we can have athletes step up and record the marks we feel they are capable of, we will be able to reach our goals. Like the women, we need to take care of our individual efforts and our team goals will be achieved.'
In recent years, the men's throws have continued to improve with David Dumble at the helm. This year should be no different as several veterans return in Tomas Navarro and Andrew Smith while redshirt freshman Ryan Whiting and Jason Lewis also join the group.
'I like the depth we have, but we also are strong up front,' Kraft said. 'The Pac-10 Conference is always the deepest conference in the country in terms of the men's throws, so points will be tough to come by, but I feel we have the talent to earn some points.'
One of those talented throwers is Whiting, the 2005 Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year.
'I never like to over-hype an athlete that has not yet worn the maroon and gold, but Ryan Whiting is as good a high school athlete that Arizona State University has ever recruited,' Kraft said. 'I believe he was just the 12th high school athlete to throw 70-feet in the shot put and was the first high school athlete in 20 years to be ranked in Track and Field News in the shot put and discus. He was already a gold medalist at the Pan-Am Games and is a great competitor which makes me very eager to watch him.'
Whiting will be joined by classmate Lewis and junior Tomas Navarro, who has been the leader of the men's throwers in recent years, placing the highest of the throwers on the conference level.
'One of the biggest surprises we have had was the development of Jason Lewis over the last year,' Kraft said. 'Part of that is he has been able to train with Whiting and he is another athlete we are excited to see compete. Navarro has scored for us in the past at the Pac-10 meet and has never looked better heading into the season.'
The javelin looks to be another strong area of the throws with the return of Andrew Smith, who ranks fifth on the all-time Arizona State lists.
'Smith came back after already graduating and we are very fortunate he did,' Kraft said. 'He is our big guy in the javelin and will be backed by Brad Roth, who has the potential to score. Another to look for as a possible scorer is Joshua Kinnaman. He had some injury problems last year, but he has been training better this fall and is improved to where I feel he could be a scorer in the javelin as well.'
DISTANCE & MID-DISTANCE
Just as the women's program has had success in the steeplechase, the men have enjoyed similar success via one runner: Aaron Aguayo. The three-time defending steeplechase champion in the Pac-10, Aguayo has been the face of Sun Devil distance running in recent years and will look to close out his career on top once again.
'I could go on for days about what Aguayo has done for this program,' Kraft said. 'He has won three Pac-10 steeplechase titles and is looking for his fourth this season and is coming off a great fall where he finished ninth in the nation at the cross country championships, the highest finish for an ASU male in the event ever. He is a guy that has improved every year and has always been incredibly tough throughout. His competitive drive inspires me and I know he has an effect on the rest of the team.'
Aguayo will have to look out for fellow teammate Kyle Alcorn, a talented steepler in his own right, while going for his fourth conference crown.
'He is a talented runner and a great finisher, so Aguayo's try for four Pac-10 titles could be challenged by Alcorn's talent,' Kraft said. 'Alcorn will be able to feed off Aguayo's competitiveness this year. Aguayo's success might overshadow him a little, but I feel he can be a great steepler in his own right and should prove that this year.'
The talent of Aguayo and Alcorn up front not only in the steeplechase but other events as well, will allow for younger athletes, such as steepler David Mehlhorn and numerous rookies, to train with some of the top runners in the nation.
'When we look at the 5,000m run, Aguayo and Alcorn continue to lead that group, but the guy that continues to improve for us is Joey Heller,' Kraft said. 'Heller's development is very critical for us, especially as I look down the road where I see him carrying the mantel for us. He had a great fall, is very coachable and continues to do what he needs to do to improve.'
Distance running in the Pac-10, much like the throwing events, produces a very tough field of competitors. If the men hope to climb up the final standings at the 2007 Pac-10 Championships in Palo Alto, Calif., they will have to receive strong showings from several individuals in the shortest and longest distance runs.
'In the 10,000m run, we have been pushing to get any points we can since it is tough to do in the Pac-10 Conference, and we may need several people to step up and enter the event,' Kraft said. 'When I look at the roster, I know Eric Dall is a guy for us that can step up and really excel in the event.
'In the 1,500m run, Jack Mann will be our go-to guy at the conference level,' Kraft said. 'It is hard to say who else might develop into helping in this distance, but I am confident in Mann's ability to score for us. If we can get several men to step into the 1,500m and 10,000m and score some points, that could be the difference in being third or fourth place.'
Waiting in the wings is an impressive group of freshmen, several of whom received their first tastes of collegiate competition during the 2006 cross country season.
'We had an outstanding recruit class put together by Coach Quintana with the likes of Ben Engelhardt, Mikias Gelagle, Jeff Helmer, Garrett Kelly and Patrick Milloy,' Kraft said. 'Although they are talented athletes, we want them to develop and will redshirt them this season and really be able to take the time to work on their craft for the future of the team. We feel the more prepared they are to compete in the Pac-10 Conference, the more success our program will have in the future.'
SPRINTS, HURDLES & RELAYS
For years, the men's sprint events are what Sun Devil track and field was known for. Winners of five-consecutive 4x400m relay crowns at the Pac-10 Championships (2001-05), the men wore the bulls-eye as the team to beat. After a disappointing fifth-place showing last year and hampered by injuries, the Sun Devils will look to take back the crown with a solid group of competitors in 2007.
'One of our strengths in recent years has been the relays and we had a disappointing season last year,' Kraft said. 'With Rodney Glass, Domenik Peterson, Kelvin Love Jr. and Justin Kremer, we feel our 4x100m relay is every bit as good as our 38.71 team from two years ago with Love Jr. and Peterson on that relay. In our mile relay, we feel we are back in contention to win with Kremer, Peterson, Love Jr. and Jimmie Gordon, which is an outstanding group of talent.'
Individually, the torch-bearer of the group is the talented Peterson, a versatile athlete that has excelled in the 100m, 200m and 400m events.
'We return really an outstanding senior in Peterson who, on paper, is the top returning 100m and 200m finisher from the conference meet last year,' Kraft said. 'He also has a 45.15 mark in the 400m dash to his credit. Peterson has had an up and down career with the highs being very high and the lows being very low. I feel he is a guy that as he continues to mature and realizes this is his last go around that he is looking to go out as a Pac-10 champion. I liken it to how Seth Amoo finished his career as he did not win his first title until his senior year. We are looking for Peterson to win his first title this year.'
Peterson will not be in it alone as his supporting cast can make an impact as well.
'Peterson will be pushed in the 200m dash by Love Jr., who had his best fall heading into the season,' Kraft said. 'When you look at Love Jr., the word that comes to mind is maturing. He continues to mature and I think he understands his event far better now than he ever has and that is exciting for us.'
While Peterson and Love Jr., have the experience of competing at the Division I level for three and two years, respectively, the coaching staff is excited about what two newcomers can bring to the table this year.
'We also have two guys that really are interesting to me in Gordon and Kremer,' Kraft said. 'Gordon came in after flying under the radar in community college and was injured last year. The way he has trained this fall and if he can stay healthy, I believe he has the ability to be another one of ASU's 44-point 400m runners.
'Kremer has been a delight for us in his short time here,' Kraft said. 'He came here from Grand Canyon High School where he won the state titles in the 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump and 47.91 at that state meet where 52-seconds was second place, which is hard to do. What people don't understand about Kremer is his high school team had no competition as well as not having a track. It was hard to do what he did, especially since he did not have a track to train on and was basically running by himself.'
In the short sprints, the Sun Devils will look to Rodney Glass, who redshirted his freshman campaign with the football team this fall as a running back.
'The wildcard of this group is Glass, who football coach Dennis Erickson has graciously released to us for the spring,' Kraft said. 'He is the reigning California state champion at 100m and had the top mark in the nation among high school boys last year at 10.32. He will be able to make an immediate impact on this team.'
In the hurdles, Marquis Profit will once again be called upon to compete in the 110m and 400m events and continue to improve as he has done each of the last two years.
'Last year, we snuck a point in the 400m hurdles with Profit,' Kraft said. 'He continues to improve and we look for him to be a Pac-10 scorer not only in the intermediate event, but also in the high hurdles as well.'
The jumps will take on a whole new look this year as just one man is back, All-American pole vaulter Brandon Glenn. Gone is Pac-10 triple jump champion Ryan Zimmerman, but the infusion of redshirt athletes and the transfer of Matt Turner should pay dividends immediately.
'We return an All-American in Brandon Glenn in the pole vault who struggled a little last year,' Kraft said. 'He has hit it hard this fall and has never looked better heading into a season. We look for him to contend for the Pac-10 title and earn All-America honors at the national meets. He will be backed by two freshmen in Joe Fazio and Corey Phallen, who we feel that, in time, can score for us at the conference level.'
The addition of Turner will give the Sun Devils a solid competitor in the high, long and triple jumps this season, something the coaching staff is looking forward to at the Pac-10 Championships.
'In the high jump, Turner brings a personal best of 2.20m (7-2.50),' Kraft said. 'In my time here, we have not had a dedicated jumper to this event and having Turner is great for us this year because the high jump was hit hard at the conference level last year by graduation. I feel he can step in right away and contend for the Pac-10 title this year.
'Turner also has the talent to come back and challenge for the title in the long jump as well,' Kraft said. 'He was 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year for Cal State Fullerton and has had a nice fall. He also will compete in the triple jump for us, so we feel strongly that he will be a solid contributor from day one.'
'Anderson won the indoor Nike championships last year and is a very raw talent, but is very coachable and has been a pleasure to work with,' Kraft said. 'In the triple jump, Egboro will also compete and we look for both athletes to help the program by continuing to improve.'
In his two years of competing for the Sun Devils, Joshua Kinnaman has continued to improve in the heptathlon and decathlon, including earning All-America accolades in both events last year. The two-time Pac-10 runner-up in the decathlon, Kinnaman will be looked to as a great starting point for the team's hopes at the conference level as the decathlon is held one week prior to the Pac-10 meet.
'Kinnaman was our most decorated athlete last year after earning All-America honors in the decathlon and placing second at the Pac-10 Championships,' Kraft said. 'He has really developed nicely under the tutelage of Olympic Champion Dan O'Brien. He has matured nicely over his time here and he is incredibly gifted as an athlete. He has done a great job for us and it would not surprise me if he made some big noise this year.'
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