Sun Devils Head to Stanford for NCAA West Region Meet

May 28, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - The season comes closer to a close this weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., as the Arizona State track and field teams head to Stanford for the NCAA West Region Championships, May 30-31. One of four regional sites, only the Top 5 individual and relay placewinners will advance to the NCAA Championships June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif.

Both the men and women will be 17 competitors strong this weekend as the Sun Devils look to gain entry into the national championship meet in two weeks. One Sun Devil has already punched his ticket to the national meet in mid-June. Fasil Bizuneh automatically qualified in the men's 10,000m run earlier this year after setting the school record in the event at Stanford Invitational, March 28.

Of the 17 women entered into the NCAA West meet, six will participate in more than one event with Porchea Carroll (100m, 4x100m and long jump) and Cassandra Reed (400m, 4x100m, 4x400m) entering three events. Other multiple entries come from Tiffany Greer (long jump, 4x100m), Seneca Holmes (100m hurdles, 4x400m), Julia Pedersen (shot put, discus) and Joni Smith (400m, 4x400m).

On the men's side, six student-athletes will pull double-duty as all six will compete in two events. Seth Amoo, Lewis Banda, Jason Barton and Steve Fitch will compete in the 4x400m relay and the open 400m while Travis Jones and Vince Mosca will throw the discus and hammer and discus and shot put, respectively.

Different than in years past, any student-athlete hoping to compete in the NCAA Championships must place in the Top 5 at one of four regional events first. The only exception to the new rule stands for the 10,000m runners as well as the athletes in the decathlon and heptathlon. The former standards of automatic and provisional qualifying standards still apply.

Seven individual women, three men and three relays (two women and one men) are ranked in the Top 5 for the regional meet this weekend. For the women, Lisa Aguilera (3,000m steeplechase) and Tiffany Greer (long jump) are both first in the West while Lewis Banda (400m) and the 4x400m relay team are ranked No. 1 for the men. Jason Barton (men's 400m) and the women's 4x100m relay are No. 2.

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.

In the final standings of the 2003 Pac-10 Championship meet, the Sun Devil women placed third with the men securing fifth overall. On the women's side, UCLA took the team title with 155 points followed by Stanford (140) and ASU (109). The point total was the highest in program history for the women.

In the men's race, USC won the title at its home facility with 139 points to ease past Stanford (128), Oregon (127), UCLA (123) and ASU (82).

Since the start of Pac-10 competition for the ASU men (1979) and women (1987), one or two members of each team has posted more points than any of their teammates in the conference meet. Following some research, it was discovered that Dwight Phillips (26 points in 1999) and Maicel Malone (25 points in 1988) recorded the most points to earn Arizona State's Pac-10 Championship High Point Award. Each year, the track and field program will honor the high point winners on the team following the competition. This year, one woman and two men earned the team accolade for their performances in Los Angeles.

For the women, Tiffany Greer posted 16 points to take the honor for the second time in her career and in a row. Greer totaled 10 points for her win in the long jump, four for fifth place in the 100m dash and two for seventh in the 200m dash.

On the men's side, Lewis Banda and Seth Amoo each scored 20 points, or nearly half of the team's points combined (40 of 89), to earn the award. Banda, a true freshmen, earned 10 points for winning the 400m dash, six for being third in the 200m, 2.5 for combining to win the 4x400m relay and 1.5 for third in the 4x100m relay. Amoo, who also earned the same amount of points in the relays as Banda, earned points with runner-up finishes in both the 200m and 400m (eight each). The 20 points ties for the second-most in program history for the men.

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.

Eight members of the team (two women and six men) traveled south to Tucson for the Tucson Elite Classic May 24.

On the women's side, Julia Pedersen placed second in the shot put with a throw of 14.95m (49-00.75) while Becky Holley placed seventh in the javelin with a toss of 37.80m (124-00). Pedersen's mark was her best on the year and in her career.

For the men, Luiz Mello was the lone non-field event participant as he took fifth place with a 10.62 in the 100m dash. Mike Rivers and Travis Jones led the men with third-place finishes in the javelin and hammer, respectively. Rivers threw 60.25m (197-8) while Jones' mark was 56.96m (186-8). Ryan Zimmerman placed seventh in the triple jump with a season-best 15.48m (50-9.50). Three Sun Devils competed in the discus with Jason Kravitz securing the highest finish with his season-best 54.40m (178-6) to place seventh. Right behind him was Vince Mosca in eighth (51.60m/169-3) and Jones in ninth (50.30m/165-0).

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.

Greg Kraft is in his seventh year at the helm of the Sun Devil men's and women's track and field program. In his tenure in Tempe, 15 men and 19 women have garnered All-America honors, as well as one women's and six men's relay teams. Nine men and eight women's individual Pac-10 titles have been won, with three men's relays added to the mix. He also has overseen the cross country program in which two men and four women's All-American honors were achieved.

After a week off, the Sun Devils that qualify for the NCAA Championships will head to Sacramento, Calif., for the 2003 national meet. The championships run June 11-14 and will be hosted by Sacramento State University.

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