NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! Sun Devil Women's Track & Field is Golden
March 10, 2007
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Jacquelyn Johnson successfully defended her national crown and Amy Hastings turned in another clutch performance to pace the Arizona State University women's track and field team to its first NCAA Championship Saturday inside the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Coming down to the final race of the evening, the Sun Devils held off a late charge from Tennessee and LSU to win its first team title and the second in program history after the men took the outdoor title in 1977.
ASU scored 38 points to claim the crown with LSU second (33), Tennessee third (30) and Georgia fourth (28). The Sun Devil men tied for 25th overall with nine points while Wisconsin won the crown with 40 points.
The Sun Devils 4x400m relay needed to defeat Tennessee to win the team title and did just that as the quartet of Bridgette Williams, Johnson, Shauntel Elcock and Latosha Wallace finished second in their heat in 3:36.17 with UT third in 3:37.75, assuring the maroon and gold of the title. The championship is the first for the school since the women's golf team won the 1998 championship and is the 130th in school history.
Before the relay could do their part, Hastings came back to run another solid race after running a grueling 5,000m run the night before in which she place fourth. Hastings fought off several challenges during the 3,000m event, running the race in 9:19.31 and placing sixth to earn the all-important four team points that solidified the scoring.
Johnson opened things up with a personal best and third-best time in school history with a time of 8.30 in the 60m hurdles, scoring 1,061 points. Leading by 11 points heading into the second event, Johnson cleared 1.75m (5-8.75) in the high jump to place third in the event and earn 916 points, but Diana Pickler of Washington State surpassed her overall point total as Johnson's 1,977 points was 64 behind the Cougar. Johnson reclaimed the lead in the next event, however, as she tossed a personal-best mark of 12.83m (45-01.25) in the shot put to score 716 points. Her overall total of 2,693 points was just four ahead of Pickler.
In the long jump, Johnson recorded a mark of 5.79m (19-00.00) to score 786 points, but Pickler posted a longer mark to take a 38 point lead into the final event, meaning Johnson would have to beat her closest competitor by 3.5 seconds or better to erase the deficit and claim her second indoor national crown and fourth overall. That is just what Johnson did in the 800m run. With a personal best of 2:17 heading into the meet, Johnson exploded from the starting gun and ran 2:13.52 to score 914 points and defeat Pickler, 4,393-4,339. Johnson's four-second personal best beat out Pickler by seven seconds, giving the team another 10 points in the standings.
Whiting made a solid debut in the NCAA Championships as the redshirt freshman placed third in the men's shot put event and earned All-America honors. Whiting, the 2005 Gatorade National Track & Field Athlete of the Year, recorded a toss of 20.01m (65-07.75) on his second attempt to take the lead that he held until eventual winner Noah Bryant of USC recorded what would be the winning mark of 20.55m (67-05.25) on his fifth attempt. Overall, Whiting's mark stands as a school record and makes him the lone Sun Devil to ever throw past 20 meters in competition.
Kinnaman opened his day in second place overall after several heptathletes withdrew from the competition and ended up in fifth place following the first event of the second day, the 60m hurdles. Kinnaman ran 8.32 to finish eighth overall and score 903 points. From there, he cleared 4.30m (14-01.25) in the pole vault to add another 702 points to his total, placing 11th in the event. In the final event of the competition, the 1,000m run, Kinnaman clocked in at 2:50.22 to finish 10th in the race and earn 763 points to push his final total to 5,511 points and placing him eight overall for the second year in a row. Kinnaman's placement earned one point for the team's score while also securing his second indoor All-America honor.
A duo of other Devils competed on the day with Aaron Aguayo placing 10th in the 3,000m run in 8:08.15 while April Kubishta finished 11th after clearing 4.00m in the women's pole vault. In all, Johnson, Hastings, Pressley, Stevens (twice), Kinnaman, Aguayo and Whiting all earned All-America honors in the event.
The Sun Devils now jump to the outdoor season as they are set to play host to the Baldy Castillo Invitational on March 16-17 on Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe.