Cross Country Plays Host to Annual Arizona State Invitational

Oct. 8, 2002

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On The Starting Line
Two weeks removed from impressive results at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., the No. 6 women and No. 23 men Arizona State cross country teams return to action this week when they play host to the ASU Invitational at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. The women's 5,000m race is set to start Friday at 4:45 p.m. with the men's 8,000m race slated for 5:15 p.m.

Nationally Ranked
The fourth weekly women's poll was released Monday with the Sun Devil women moving up one spot to No. 6, their highest ranking of the year. Last week, the women climbed to No. 7 following a second-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational. After finishing ninth at the Griak, the men fell to No. 21 (Oct. 1 poll) after a one-week stint at No. 14. This week, the men are No. 23 in the national polls.

Regional Recognition
After two weeks at No. 3 in the MONDO regional poll, the men slipped to No. 5 in the West. Stanford and Oregon remained the No. 1 and 2 teams in the poll, respectively, while No. 3 Cal Poly and No. 4 Washington surpassed the Sun Devil men.

About the ASU Invitational
The Sun Devils head into the ASU Invitational looking to not only improve upon its finishes two weeks ago at the Griak Invitational, but also on their performances from a year ago. Last year, the men finished sixth of 10 teams while the women claimed fourth in the 11-team field.

ASU Invitational Participants
The top-ranked teams in the men's and women's poll will be represented this week at the ASU Invitational with the No. 1 Stanford men and No. 1 BYU women heading the field. Another ranked team, Northern Arizona, will send their No. 4 men and No. 17 women to compete. Here is a complete list of the teams entered:Arizona (M/W), Arizona State (M/W), BYU (W), Cal State-Hayward (M/W), Dine College (M), Gateway CC (M/W), Mesa CC (M/W), Northern Arizona (M/W), Phoenix College (M/W), Pima CC (M/W), Quest Club (M/W), Scottsdale CC (M/W), Stanford (M), Strapped Jock Club (M/W).

Newcomers to the cross country program have already made their respective marks with the Sun Devils as the middle of the season approaches. Jessica Scalzo recorded her second fourth-place finish of the year at the Griak Invitational while fellow freshmen Amy Hastings and Liz Lindgren rounded out the top-three ASU placers in Minneapolis, Minn., with 18th and 19th-place finishes, respectively. In all, four of the five point winners for the Sun Devils in both races were freshmen.On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo continues to pay dividends for the Sun Devils. After leading the team with a fifth-place finish at the Notre Dame/adidas Invitational, Aguayo finished third on the team and 59th overall at the Griak. Derek Pisel and Ryan Warrenburg, 92nd and 93rd, respectively at the Griak, also have helped pace the ASU team in their first years in Tempe.

Last Time Out
Jessica Scalzo led the team to a second-place finish while claiming fourth in the individual race at the Griak. Scalzo was followed by Amy Hastings, Liz Lindgren, Desiree Davila and Jessie McLaughlin in the scoring. The other half of the women's team raced at the Canyon West Invitational at Kiwanis Park with Jenna Wrieden finishing at team-high fourth while the Sun Devils took first as a team.On the men's side, Fasil Bizuneh crossed the line in Minneapolis, Minn., in 12th place to pace the Sun Devils to a ninth-place finish. 2001 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year JJ Duke, accompanied by Aaron Aguayo, Derek Pisel and Ryan Warrenburg, helped the team to its top-10 finish. Griffin Lee finished eighth at the Canyon race as the Sun Devils did not have enough runners to qualify as a team.

Returning All-American
Fasil Bizuneh became the first male ASU cross country runner 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. He joins Lisa Aguilera (1998-01) as the program's only two-time honorees.

Academic Success
The Sun Devil teams have excelled not only on the cross country course, but in the classroom as well. Last season, for the fifth year in a row (1997-2001), ASU's women were named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association. Also, the women held the highest grade point average among women's sports at ASU for the second-consecutive year. For good measure, 38 athletes were named ASU Maroon and Gold Scholars. Earning Verizon Academic All-America honors in 2001 was Lisa Aguilera. Aguilera was named to the women's second-team, after joining Kelly MacDonald as a Verizon Academic All-District first-team selection.

Getting Warmed Up For...
ASU will run in its final tune-up race prior to postseason competition when it runs in the NCAA Pre-National meet at Terre Haute, Ind. Indiana State will play host to the event that will be run on the same course used for the NCAA Championships later this year. The women's races, 6,000m in length, start at 11 a.m. and 11:35 a.m. with the men competing at 12:10 p.m. and 12:50 p.m. All times are local.

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