Pair of Meets Await Sun Devil Cross Country Saturday

Oct. 12, 2004

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TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University men's and women's cross country teams will split their ranks this weekend as the Sun Devils head to two different meets, both contested Saturday. ASU will send its top runners to Indiana State, the site of the 2004 NCAA Championships, in Terre Haute, Ind., to compete in the NCAA Pre-National Meet while the remaining student-athletes will compete at the Canyon West Classic at Kiwanis Park in Tempe.

At the pre-national meet, the women will compete in a 6K race with the `blue' race starting at 11:00 a.m. and the `white' race going at 11:35 a.m. while the men will compete in the 8K event at either 12:10 p.m. (`blue') or 12:50 p.m. (`white'). The Sun Devils will be placed into one of the two races Wednesday.

Back in Tempe, the ASU runners competing in the Canyon West Classic will start much earlier in the day as the women's 5K race is slated for 8 a.m. and the men's 8K set to go at 8:45 a.m.

Both the men's and women's fields at the NCAA Pre-National Meet will feature 87 teams, including most of the Top 30 teams in the nation. The Canyon West Classic will again feature many of the top community college teams from the state of Arizona with ASU and several unattached teams entering the meet as well.

The FinishLynx Women's Top 30 national rankings were released Monday with the Sun Devils holding steady at No. 7 for the second week in a row. The MONDO Men's Top 30 rankings were released Tuesday with the ASU men remaining at No. 15, tied with Providence and Minnesota.

The last time the Sun Devils competed in the national `warm-up' meet was in the 2002 season when it also was contested at Indiana State. Both squads captured eighth-place finishes with the men competing in a 35-team field and the women battling 36 other teams. Fasil Bizuneh led the men with a 13th-place finish while the women were paced by Jessica Scalzo, who took 17th.

Last year at the Canyon West Classic, the men fielded a `B' team, taking third place while the women had one lone representative in the field. Alvina Begay ran for the women and finished eighth overall while BIlly Smith paced the men with his 19th-place finish in the race at Kiwanis Park.

In the first two meets of the season, the women's finishers came across in very similar fashion. In both the Dave Murray and Roy Griak Invitationals, Amy Hastings was the first Sun Devil to cross the finish line. She was followed by Desiree Davila, Victoria Jackson, Anna Masinelli, Rachel Ellison, Jessie McLaughlin and Jessica Crate.

Last year, Amy Hastings not only became the first Sun Devil woman to win a race since the 2000 season, she also became just the third Arizona State harrier to win multiple races in a season after capturing the Dave Murray and ASU Invitationals. Following her win at the Dave Murray Invite this year, she needs one more in her career to tie the school record for individual wins at four set by Lynn Nelson, a winner of four races in the 1983 season. Nelson's total also is the individual season mark.

As with the start of any new season, many new names have been added to the rosters with seven men and seven women joining the Sun Devils for their first cross country seasons this year. For the women, the seven student-athletes include four freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and one graduate student. The men welcome four freshmen, one sophomore and two juniors to the team.

The Arizona State Invitational was contested at Kiwanis Park over the weekend with the Sun Devil men and women both forming `B' teams and both finishing second. The women were led by Jessica Crate and her third-place finish while Kal Clark paced the men with a seventh-place finish. Arizona's men and women's teams won the meet.

The women return two, two-time All-Americans this year in Amy Hastings and Desiree Davila. Both earned the national distinction in cross country a year ago with Davila grabbing the accolade in the 5,000m run on the outdoor track in 2003 and Hastings adding the indoor honor for the 5,000m in 2004.

During the past outdoor track and field season, the Sun Devil distance runners again showed their dominance in the 3,000m steeplechase event at the Pac-10 Championships, this year sweeping the two races. On the women's side, Amy Hastings captured her first conference crown and extended the ASU winning streak as a Sun Devil woman has won the event each of the four years the conference has contested the race. Kelly MacDonald won the inaugural race in 2001 with Lisa Aguilera winning in 2002 and 2003.

On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo not only became the first Sun Devil to win the race since current graduate assistant Jeremy Rasmussen took the event in 2000, he also became the first ASU runner to win the regional race in the same event and earned a berth into the national meet.

Following a week off from competition, the Sun Devils will return to action at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships, Oct. 30, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. California will serve as the host of the conference meet. The women will run a 6K at 9:30 a.m. with the men competing in an 8K at 10:30 a.m.

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