Final Preparatory Meet Awaits Sun Devils in Tucson

May 22, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - Final preparations are under way for the Arizona State track and field teams this weekend as the Sun Devils travel south the Tucson for the Tucson Elite Classic. One week later, the team heads to Stanford for the NCAA West Region Championships where ASU will battle for berths into the NCAA Championships June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif.

Eight Sun Devils will travel to the Tucson Elite Classic this Saturday to compete one last time before heading into the NCAA West Region meet. ASU will have competitors in the javelin, shot put, triple jump, discus and 100m dash.

Though their teams did not finish on top of the podium over the weekend at the Pac-10 Championships at USC, several Sun Devils did win individual and/or relay titles. Conference crowns were secured in four women's events and two in the men's races.

For the women, Lisa Aguilera won the 3,000m steeplechase for the second year in a row to keep the title in Tempe as a Sun Devil has won the race all three years it has been contested. Tiffany Greer also achieved history with her victory in the long jump, making her the first female to win the event three times in a career.

Cassandra Reed rounded out the ASU women's wins on the track with the title in the 400m dash while Sandra Orsund took home the gold in the discus. Orsund's victory ended UCLA's four-year winning streak and Chaniqua Ross' two-year winning streak in the event.

The men had one individual champion and one relay win. Lewis Banda won the 400m dash in his first collegiate season and then combined with Jason Barton, Seth Amoo and Steve Fitch to remain undefeated on the year in the 4x400m relay. The win marked the third year in a row that ASU took the 1,600m relay race.

The Sun Devil men and women both put forth strong showings in the 400m events at the Pac-10 Championships over the weekend. In the open dash, Cassandra Reed and Lewis Banda won the women's and men's races, respectively, while teammates Joni Smith and Seth Amoo finished second, respectively.

In the 4x400m relay, the women placed second with a season best mark of 3:35.23 as Stanford held on to the close win while the men's team won the event for the third year in a row and remained undefeated this year.

Arizona State also continued its dominance in another event at the conference championships with Lisa Aguilera winning the 3,000m steeplechase event. The race has been contested just three times in Pac-10 history with a Sun Devil winning the event all three times. Kelly MacDonald captured the first title in 2001 with Aguilera taking home gold in the last two races, including this year.

Undefeated and owners of the top time in the nation this year, the Arizona State men's 4x400m relay team won the event at the Pac-10 Championships for the third year in a row. The quartet of Jason Barton, Seth Amoo, Steve Fitch and Lewis Banda claimed the title to join the UCLA relays of 1987-89 as the only relays to win the race three year in a row.

For the first time this season, the women's team finds itself ranked in both national polls. The Sun Devils are tied for 20th in the polls and 22nd in the's rankings. ASU also is ranked No. 30 in the power ranks.

On the men's side, ASU fell out to the Top 25, but moved up to a tie for 17th in the polls. The Sun Devils are 28th in the power poll.

Lisa Aguilera already set one school record earlier this year and figured she would go out in style with another added to her credentials at the annual Double Dual meet. Also the final home competition of her collegiate career, Aguilera ran a blazing 9:51.65 in the 3,000m steeplechase to set Pac-10 and Arizona State records while establishing the new standard for Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium. Her time also is the fastest in the nation both collegiately and post-collegiately and ranks as the third-fastest time by an American all-time.

The second record came two weeks earlier at the Mt. SAC Relays with Aguilera clocking a 15:53.28 to place 16th in a tough field of competitors consisting of both collegiate and professional athletes.

One similarity among the two records was both were formerly held by Kelly MacDonald, Aguilera's teammate. Another common thread, Aguilera broke both of MacDonald's times at the same venues she had previously set the standards.

For breaking the school and conference record, Lisa Aguilera was honored as the Pac-10 Female Runner of the Week for the week ending May 4. It was the first honor for any ASU track or field athlete in 2003.

Aguilera also learned Thursday that she has been selected by Arizona State as its female recipient of the Pac-10 Medal of Honor, bestowed annually to one male and one female student-athlete at each of the conference's member institutions. The honor marks the second year in a row that a female track athlete has earned the honor as Kelly MacDonald earned the distinction last year for the Sun Devils.

With the addition of Lisa Aguilera's school records in the women's 5,000m run and 3,000m steeplechase, three top marks have been recorded in distance events this year. Fasil Bizuneh rewrote his own top time in the men's 10,000m run at the end of March to notch the third record for ASU.

Also making noise in the distance events are Desiree Davila and Jessica Scalzo. Both student-athletes have recorded times in the Arizona State all-time Top 10 this year in the women's 5K.

Following the Double Dual, the Sun Devils increased the number of athletes that will represent the Maroon and Gold at both the Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA west region meet at the end of May. The women have 31 marks that have qualified 19 individuals for the conference meet while 40 marks will gain 19 women access to the regional event.

On the men's side, 20 individuals have combined for 29 Pac-10 entries while 18 men so far will compete at the regional event at Stanford in 23 events. These numbers do not include relays.

NEW FOR 2003
In years past, times and marks recorded by Sun Devils would be compared to the standards established by the NCAA to see if they automatically, provisionally or not at all qualified for the national meet. This year, a regional meet has been established where student-athletes will first have to qualify for, much like the national meets in the past years, and the finish among the Top 5 in their respective events in order to advance to the national meet in Sacramento, Calif., June 11-14.

The 2003 Pac-10 Championships were held May 17-18 at USC's Loker Stadium with the Arizona State women placing third and the men taking fifth. UCLA and USC won the team titles, respectively. In all, 15 women recorded points for the Sun Devils while 13 men scored as placers in the Top 8 of their respective individual events. Tiffany Greer (long jump), Cassandra Reed (400m), Lisa Aguilera (3,000m steeple) and Sandra Orsund (discus) each won individual championships for the women while Lewis Banda (400m) and the 4x400m relay team of Banda, Jason Barton, Seth Amoo and Steve Fitch took gold for the men.

At the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships, one individual and one relay team brought home All-American honors by placing among the Top 8 in the national meet.

Individually, Lisa Aguilera placed seventh in the 3,000m run in 9:18.80 to earn two team points for the women's team and tying them for 43rd overall.

On the men's side, the 4x400m relay team of Seth Amoo, Lewis Banda, Jason Barton and Steve Fitch combined to finish fifth in the nation with a time of 3:07.41. The team remained undefeated on the year by winning their heat, though they took fifth overall because the four teams in the final heat finished with better times.

Seth Amoo ran his first 200m race of the year at the Double Dual (Feb. 14) and used that performance to not only win the race and earn a provisional qualification time, he also reset his school record in the indoor event. Crossing the line at 21.01, Amoo bettered his previous mark of 21.19 that he established last year. Lewis Banda, who took third in the race, finished in a time of 21.19, tying the previous mark and moving into second on the all-time list.

The Sun Devils will travel to Stanford for the 2003 NCAA West Region meet, May 30-31. All participants will battle for a spot in the NCAA Championships two weeks later in Sacramento, Calif. The national meet runs June 11-14 and will be hosted by Sacramento State.

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