Sun Devil Harriers Head to NCAA Championships

Nov. 16, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University cross country program closes out the current season Monday (Nov. 22) as it heads to the 2004 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The national meet will see the women compete in a 6K race at 11 a.m. and the men in a 10K run at 12:15 p.m. at the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind.

Individual and team national titles are on the line Monday as the NCAA conducts its championship meet in Terre Haute, Ind. The Sun Devil men and women both automatically qualified for the meet and will look to not only earn All-America honors, but also fight for a trophy finish (Top 4).

The NCAA Championships will feature 31 teams in each race, comprised of 18 teams that earned automatic berths into the meet by placing in the Top 2 at their respective regional meets and 13 at-large selections. Also included in the races will be 38 individual competitors that finished among the Top 3 or 4 in their regional races and their team did not qualify for the meet. Overall, 255 runners will toe the starting line for each race.

For the third release in a row, the Sun Devil men find themselves ranked in the Top 10 of the national rankings and also setting the school record for highest ranking. On Oct. 19, 1999, the men set the mark at No. 9 in the polls. Then, exactly five years to the day, the men again moved to No. 9. Two weeks later, ASU moved up to No. 8 following its second-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships before moving to No. 7 this week after taking runner-up honors at the NCAA West Region Championships last week.

From 1979 to 1997, the Arizona State women had never competed in the NCAA Championships. That all changed in the 1998 season when the Sun Devils advanced to the national meet and finished tied for 23rd. Since then, ASU has been a mainstay at the NCAA meet as it has been in the field each of the past six years. Following their second-place finish in the regional meet last weekend, the Sun Devils earned a berth into their seventh-consecutive NCAA Championship meet.

Although both the men and the women have participated in the NCAA Championships in the same year two times before, the 2004 season marks the first time in school history that both squads automatically qualified for the meet. The previous two times the men had competed in the meet, they made the field of 31 as an at-large selection.

For the second championship meet in a row, both Sun Devil teams broke the school record for low point totals. The women recorded 45 points in the regional race to surpass the previous mark of 70 set in 2002 when the women also finished second. On the men's side, the 68 points recorded easily shattered the previous low of 92 that was established in 1999 when the team finished third. Their 68 points also marks only the second time in 13 races that the Sun Devils have broken the 100-point barrier.

Last year, seven Sun Devil women headed to the national meet and finished 14th. This year, all seven of the women are members of the team. Along with several key additions to the squad, the women will look to improve upon that finish as they also try to surpass the school-record for best finish that was set in 2000 when the team took sixth.

The last time the women competed in the NCAA Championships was last year when they scored 406 points to finish 14th. ASU was led by the All-American finish of Amy Hastings (25th) with the following student-athletes also competing in the meet: Desiree Davila (44th), Anna Masinelli (87th), Corey Randall (168th), Liz Lindgren (188th), Jenna Wrieden (220th) and Jessica Crate (252nd). Of those seven, Hastings, Davila, Masinelli and Lindgren also ran the 2000 race.

The 2001 race was the last time the men had a team in the NCAA meet, finishing 20th overall with 477 points. Fasil Bizuneh led the Sun Devils with his 22nd-place finish to garner All-America accolades. Only two members of the current roster entered into the 2001 race: Juan Reyes and J.J. Duke.

Both the men and women captured second-place finishes at the Pac-10 Championships, held Oct. 30 in San Francisco, Calif. The women were led by individual champion Amy Hastings as the team collected a school-record low 47 points as the five scoring runners for ASU finished in the Top 20. On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo took third place to pace the men to a record low total of 64 points as all five scoring Sun Devils placed in the Top 19 of the race.

Amy Hastings' win at the conference meet was not only historic on the grounds of being the first Pac-10 cross country title won in program history, but it also gave her the fourth win in her history, tying Lynn Nelson (1983) for wins in a career. The victory also gave her two for the season, tying her for second for wins in a season. Nelson holds that record after securing all four of her wins in the 1983 season for the Sun Devils.

Both ASU squads posted second-place finishes at the NCAA West Region Championships with the men and women recording record low point totals of 68 and 47, respectively. Amy Hastings paced the women with her second-place run while Aaron Aguayo took fourth to lead the men.

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.