Cross Country Opens 2001 Season at UC Irvine Invitational Saturday

Sept. 5, 2001

This Week --
Arizona State's men's and women's cross country teams open the 2001 season at the UC Irvine Invitational at Central Park in Huntington Beach, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 8. The event kicks off with the women's 5,000m race at 9 a.m., followed by the men's five mile race at 9:45 a.m. Pacific time. Approximately 15 schools will be competing in each race.

Last Year --
In last year's season opener at the UC Irvine Invitational, junior Brianna Torres won the women's 5,000m race to lead ASU to a fourth-place team finish (86 points), while true freshman Juan Reyes finished ninth on the men's 8,000m course to carry ASU to a third-place finish (63 points). Northern Arizona came away with the men's team title and host UC Irvine won the women's competition.

Sun Devils in the Polls --
For the third straight year, both ASU's men's and women's teams are ranked in the preseason national Top 25 cross country polls. The women check in at No. 10 (189 points) in the FinishLynx Poll, while ASU's men are ranked 21st in the MONDO Poll. ASU's women finished the 2000 season ranked fifth according to FinishLynx, while the men ranked 24th in the final 2000 Mondo Poll.

2001 Outlook --
ASU's women's team returns five of the seven runners from the squad that finished sixth at the NCAA Championships last season. Leading the way for the women will be senior All-Americans Lisa Aguilera (2000 West Region and Pac-10 Athlete of the Year) and Kelly MacDonald (who returns after redshirting in 2000), along with senior Brianna Torres (2000 all-region) and sophomore Cynthia Atencio. The men return four of last year's starting seven and welcome back junior All-American Fasil Bizuneh from using a redshirt year last season. Top returners for the men include sophomore Juan Reyes and junior Kris Alexander, both all-region honorees last season.

2000 Season Summary --
ASU's women's team enjoyed the best season in school history, placing sixth at nationals (266 points) and second at both regionals and the Pac-10 Championships. Lisa Aguilera became the third woman in ASU history to earn All-America honors with a fifth-place school-record finish at the NCAA Championships. Aguilera won the women's individual title at regionals and was also the Pac-10 runner-up, both school record finishes. For her efforts, Aguilera was named the Pac-10 and USTCA West Region Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Also honored was head coach Walt Drenth, named the Pac-10 and USTCA West Region Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year. On the men's side, ASU finished the 2000 season ranked 24th nationally, but failed to receive an at-large bid to nationals. The men finished fourth at the Pac-10 meet and fifth at regionals. Earning Academic All-America honors for the Sun Devils were Aguilera (first-team) and Garrett Jensen (second-team). And for the fourth straight year, ASU's women's squad was named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association.

Head Coach Walt Drenth --
In his sixth year at the helm of the Arizona State cross country program, Walt Drenth continues to take the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. Last year Drenth was named the USTCA West Region Women's Coach of the Year and for the second-straight season earned Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year honors. Drenth has guided ASU to school record conference, regional and national finishes (including the teams' first four NCAA team appearances), while producing three All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans. Drenth came to Tempe after spending the previous six years (1990-95) at the College of William & Mary and six years at Central Michigan (1985-90). He is a nine-time conference coach of the year and four-time district coach of the year, and has led nine squads to the NCAA Championships. Included in Drenth's ASU coaching staff are graduate assistant Corey Ihmels and volunteer assistant Michelle Borgert.

ASU Hosts Pac-10 Championships --
Arizona State will host this year's Pac-10 Cross Country Championships, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001, at the Pavilion Lakes Golf Course in Scottsdale, Ariz. The men's 8,000m race is tentatively scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., while the women's 6,000m race will follow at 11 a.m. The meet was originally scheduled to be held at ASU's home course, Freestone Park in Gilbert, Ariz. The ASU Invitational, Oct. 5, will still be held at Freestone Park.

Runnin' Devil Style --
Redshirt freshman Kelly Burke chronicles her experiences on the Sun Devil cross country team with a column on ASU's website, Burke's columns run on both the cross country and track and field sites.

Up Next --
ASU will take two weeks off before sending split squads to the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis and the Canyon West Invitational in Tempe, Saturday, Sept. 29. The Sun Devil 'A' squads will travel to the midwest, while the remaining runners will compete at Kiwanis Park. The Roy Griak Invitational is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. CT, while the Canyon West Invitational is scheduled to begin at 7:15 a.m.

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