West Regional Meet Awaits Sun Devil Track & Field

May 24, 2006

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TEMPE, Ariz. - The championship season continues this weekend with several members of the Arizona State University track and field program heading to the Clarence F. Robinson Track on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, for the 2006 NCAA West Region Championships. The meet will be conducted Friday and Saturday and will be used a selection tool for the national meet.

Arizona State will head to Provo for the 2006 NCAA West Region Championships in Provo with the hopes of automatically qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship (June 7-10) in Sacramento. The Top 5 finishers in each individual event as well as the Top 3 relays to finish will earn a berth into the national meet. Athletes placing sixth through 12th in the individual events will be placed into a pool for at-large selections for the national meet that will be announced next week.

Two weeks ago, the women's squad made history as they captured their first Pac-10 Championship, scoring 154 points, edging defending champion Stanford (151.5) for the crown. The Sun Devils crowned five individual champions on the women's side with Brooke Bennett (3,000m steeplechase), Victoria Jackson (5,000m), Amy Hastings (10,000m), Jacquelyn Johnson (heptathlon) and Sarah Stevens (shot put) winning their respective events. The women's team title is the third outdoor crown won by the program following the men's 1981 Pac-10 title and 1963 Western Athletic Conference crown. The women's victory makes them just the fifth different team to win the Pac-10 crown.

Five women won individual Pac-10 championships this season with four coming two weeks ago. Jacquelyn Johnson opened the victories for the women by securing her second heptathlon crown one week before the championship meet, scoring a personal-best 5,987 points on May 7-8. Two weeks ago (May 14-15) in Eugene, Ore., Brooke Bennett got the women going as she won the steeplechase event at 10:20.08 before Sarah Stevens won the shot put with a school-record toss of 17.42m. The first day of competition closed with Amy Hastings winning the 10,000m run as ASU runners finished first, second and fourth in the race. On the final day of the meet, Victoria Jackson won the 5,000m run with the Sun Devils placing four in the Top 8 of the event to virtually wrap up the team title.

The women were not the only athletes winning titles as two Sun Devil men captured crowns in their respective events. Aaron Aguayo became the first Sun Devil male to win an event three times in a career (individual events only) as he won his third steeplechase title in a row, running a school-record 8:35.04 for his third victory. The next day, Ryan Zimmerman popped a personal-best leap of 16.23m on his third attempt in the triple jump to win the event.

Arizona State successfully retained its status of Steeplechase U. at the Pac-10 Championships as Aaron Aguayo and Brooke Bennett won the men's and women's races, respectively, to give the Sun Devils a sweep of the event for the third year in a row. Aguayo became just the second man in conference history to win the event three times in a career, joining Julius Korir of Washington State as the only two to do so. On the women's side, Bennett's first conference title was the team's sixth in a row dating back to 2001 when the Pac-10 first included the steeplechase in the women's list of events. In those six races, five different Sun Devils have won the crown with Lisa Aguilera (2002, 2003) winning two titles.

The women's distance runners made a huge contribution to the success of the team as seven women combined to score 71 of the team's 154 points in four races. The women opened with 22 points in the 3,000m steeplechase with Brooke Bennett (10 points), Anna Masinelli (8) and Corey Randall (4) placing first, second and fifth, respectively. The 10,000m run later that night produced 23 points as Amy Hastings (10), Victoria Jackson (8) and Cassie Rios (5) finished first, second and fourth in the event. On the second day of the meet, the 1,500m run produced three points with Jenna Kingma (2) and Rachel Ellison (1) placing seventh and eighth. Needing big points to add pad the team lead, the 5,000m runners collected another 23 points with Jackson (10), Hastings (6), Kingma (4), Bennett (2) and Randall (1) crossing the line in first, third, fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Each year, the coaching staff honors its Pac-10 Championship High Point Award and this year the recipients were Jacquelyn Johnson for the women and Domenik Peterson for the men as each scored the most points for their respective teams. Johnson accumulated 29.0 points to set a single-meet record at ASU, bettering the 25 points earned by Maicel Malone in 1988. Johnson finished first in the heptathlon (10 points), second in the high jump (8), third in the 100m hurdles (6), sixth in the long jump (3) and second with the 4x400m relay (2). Peterson led the men with 15.25 points after placing second in the 200m dash (8), fourth in the 100m dash (5), third in the 4x100m (1.25) and fifth in the 4x400m relays (1).

Jacquelyn Johnson was not the only Sun Devil woman to score more than 20 points in the meet as redshirt freshman Sarah Stevens made a name for herself in her first conference meet. Stevens scored 10 points in the shot put with a school-record toss of 17.42m before placing third in the hammer with a school-record toss of 65.69m to pick up another six points. She capped her first Pac-10 meet with a fourth-place showing in the discus to score another five points. Stevens also became the first Sun Devil woman to win the shot put since ASU joined the conference.

The women were able to win their first team title with many young athletes competing that will return next year. Of the 154 points scored, only 26 will be lost next year as the remaining 128 points came from freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Included in the returning athletes are the Top 2 scorers, Jacquelyn Johnson and Sarah Stevens, as well as champions Amy Hastings and Brooke Bennett.

Following her second Pac-10 heptathlon title in as many tries, Jacquelyn Johnson was selected as the Pac-10 Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Week, the conference office announced. The honor is the second of her career after earning the award following her first heptathlon crown in 2004. Johnson went out the following weekend and placed third in the 100m hurdles, second in the high jump, sixth in the long jump and helped the 4x400m relay team place second overall.

Multi-event athletes have the tools to compete in numerous events and that was no more evident over the two weekends of competition at the Pac-10 meet by Joshua Kinnaman. The Sun Devil sophomore finished second in the decathlon for the second time in his career before returning to Eugene, Ore., where he competed in the long jump before recording a personal best toss in the discus. Kinnaman, who also competed in the high jump, was called upon to replace sprinters on both relays where he ran the third leg of the 4x100m relay to help ASU place third before running the third leg of the 4x400m relay to help the squad place fifth overall. In all, Kinnaman was on the track for six races and competed in six different field events over the two weekends, repeating three of the events on the second weekend.

The women's victory at the Pac-10 Championships gave the program its third trophy this season, adding to the fourth-place finish recorded by the women's cross country team this fall before the indoor track & field squad placed third at the indoor national meet. The Sun Devils will now look to add a regional trophy before heading to Sacramento where they will look to finish among the Top 4 to secure another trophy for the program's case.

Arizona State competed in the NCAA West Region Championships each of the past three seasons, including last year in Eugene, Ore., where the women finished third overall and the men fourth. Since the regional system was introduced in time for the 2003 season, the men and women have not finished lower than sixth place in the team standings. The Sun Devil women placed fourth in 2003 and fifth in 2004 while the men placed sixth and tied for fourth, respectively.

Arizona State will send two women and four men to the regional competition that have won regional crowns in the past, including defending shot put champion Jessica Pressley on the women's side and members of the victorious men's 4x100m relay team last year of Steven Koehnemann, Domenik Peterson and Kelvin Love Jr. Christina Hardeman will once again compete in the 4x400m relay for the women and will look to win the even for the second time after securing gold in 2004. Aaron Aguayo is the final former champion returning for the Sun Devils after he won the 2003 steeplechase event.

The Sun Devils will look to finish in the Top 5 individually and Top 3 in the relays to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships. The women enter the weekend in Provo with 11 of its individuals holding the fifth-best or better mark in the region while the men have six individuals ranked among the Top 5. In the relays, the women's 4x400m relay meets the standard, entering the event ranked second. Three Sun Devils also lead the regional qualifiers that were declared for the meet with Jenna Kingma holding the top mark in the 5,000m run while the men have Aaron Aguayo (3,000m steeplechase) and Ryan Zimmerman (triple jump) as the top-ranked competitors in their respective events.

Arizona State has posted 36 women's marks and 34 men's marks that have qualified for either the regional meet with six and eight of the marks, respectively, coming from the relays. Of those qualifiers, the women declared 20 of the individual entries and one relay while the men also declared one relay and added 14 individual entries. Missing from the regional entries for the women are Amy Hastings and Victoria Jackson, the Pac-10's 10,000m and 5,000m run champions, respectively. Both will not compete at the regional meet in order to concentrate on the 10,000m run at the national meet of which both have automatically qualified to compete.

Several men and women are slated to compete in multiple events this weekend with Jacquelyn Johnson and Sarah Stevens both entered into three individual events. Johnson, who also may run on the 4x400m relay, will compete in the 100m hurdles, the high jump and the long jump while Stevens will enter the shot put, hammer and discus. Fellow thrower Jessica Pressley will compete in two individual events as she is set for the shot put and discus. On the men's side, Marquis Profit and Tomas Navarro are the only competitors entered in two individual events with Profit running the 110m and 400m hurdle events while Navarro will throw in the hammer and discus.

The women broke five records and tied another this outdoor season with two coming at the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago while the men, who broke one at the conference meet, broke three this season. On the track, Amy Hastings broke the 10,000m run mark with a time of 33:17.89 while fellow distance runner Victoria Jackson broke the 5,000m mark at 15:49.03. In the field, Jessica Pressley broke her own shot put mark with a toss of 17.19m only to see Sarah Stevens throw 17.42m at the Pac-10 meet to break the record. Stevens added the record in the hammer to her resume with a throw of 65.69m at the Pac-10 meet. April Kubishta tied the school mark in the pole vault as she equalled the 4.10m clearance of Angela Tavlarides from 2005. On the men's side, Ryan Warrenburg broke the 5,000m run mark held by Aaron Aguayo with his run of 13:43.29. Aguayo reclaimed the mark with his run of 13:40.16 at Stanford before collecting the steeplechase record at the Pac-10 meet with his winning time of 8:35.04.

TEMPE 5,000
The 5,000m run has become quite a successful event for the Sun Devil men and women this season with nine total athletes having earned regional qualifying marks in the event while setting a pair of school records. On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo (13:40.16), Ryan Warrenburg (13:43.29), Velibor Radejovic (14:03.38), Joey Heller (14:06.07) and Casey Burchill (14:06.96) have all qualified for the regional meet with Aguayo running the ninth-fastest time in the nation this year. For the women, Victoria Jackson (15:49.03), Amy Hastings (15:52.06), Jenna Kingma (15:59.15) and Corey Randall (16:34.01) have made the regional with the first three ranking fifth, sixth and ninth, respectively, in the nation. The women earned 22 points in the event at the Pac-10 meet to solidify the team title.

The Sun Devils have nine women and five men's marks appearing on the latest (May 16) Dandy Dozen with two women holding the top ranking in their respective events. Amy Hastings and Jacquelyn Johnson are ranked No. 1 in the 5,000m run and heptathlon, respectively, and have been since the start of the outdoor season. Hastings, along with fifth-ranked Victoria Jackson, will fall out of the event rankings since both will not compete at the regional meet and run only the 10,000m event at nationals. Sarah Stevens is ranked fourth in both the shot put and hammer as the only Sun Devil ranked in two events. Aaron Aguayo leads the men as he is ranked fifth in the 3,000m steeplechase while running mate Ryan Warrenburg is eighth. Ryan Zimmerman is ranked sixth in the triple jump as well.

Two current members of the Sun Devil program are ranked in the World Top 20 with Jacquelyn Johnson sitting eighth in the women's heptathlon while Aaron Aguayo is 19th in the men's 3,000m steeplechase. Johnson's 5,987 points is the top mark among both collegiate and American athletes this season while Aguayo's time of 8:35.04, a school-record, is the third-best among American runners and third in the college ranks.

The Sun Devil women defeated their intrastate rivals Arizona and Northern Arizona at the annual Double Dual over the weekend in Tucson while the men split, defeating the Lumberjacks but falling to the Wildcats. Against NAU, the women won, 118-72, while the men were victorious, 132-40. The women downed the Wildcats, 113-80, while the men fell, 116-86, their first loss to UA in the last six tries.

In the history of the women's track & field/cross country program, Amy Hastings has earned the eighth-most All-America honors with six after capturing three in indoor track and field and three in cross country (the only Sun Devil to do so). Jacquelyn Johnson is tied for 17th with a handful of others after earning her third career accolade (two indoor, one outdoor).

During the indoor season, five school records were broken with four coming from the women's side of competition. April Kubishta opened the year by breaking the record in the pole vault and has reset the mark on three occasions this season while fellow field event competitors Sarah Stevens (shot put) and Jessica Pressley (weight throw) have taken over the top spot in their respective events. Stevens' mark broke a 23 year-old record while Pressley's topped the mark set in 2001. The other two records came from Amy Hastings in the 5,000m run and Ryan Warrenburg in the 3,000m run. Outdoors, Hastings reset her own 10,000m run mark at the Stanford Invitational (March 31).

Leslie Deniz set the school record in the women's indoor shot put with a heave of 17.03m back in 1983. Three years later, current Sun Devil thrower Sarah Stevens was born. Twenty years after her birth, Stevens bumped Deniz' mark to the No. 2 position after winning the Air Force Invitational with a toss of 17.52m and breaking the 23 year-old record. Deniz' mark also fell during the last outdoor season as Jessica Pressley recorded a toss of 17.05m to break the 22 year-old mark of 17.03m.

The women's track and field/cross country program has been hot this academic year as the cross country team finished fourth at the NCAA Championships to claim the first trophy for the women's program. Last weekend, the women made history again by finishing third overall at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. That finish was better than the 1991 team's tie for fourth place.

Although the team finished with the bronze medal in the team standings, two individual Sun Devil women won gold in the respective events to claim the program's first national titles since the 1992 indoor season. Amy Hastings won the individual title in the 5,000m run on the first day of the meet before Jacquelyn Johnson took home the title in the pentathlon.

The titles won by Amy Hastings and Jacquelyn Johnson marked the first time in program history that a national title in an indoor distance event and an indoor multi-event had been captured. Hastings' crown is the second distance title ever and the first since 1959 when Alex Henderson won the school's first NCAA title by taking the men's two mile run. The multi-event crown had been won three other times in school history with Dana Collins winning the outdoor pentathlon in 1977 (the first women's national title) before Gea Johnson in 1990 and Jacquelyn Johnson in 2004 won the outdoor heptathlon. All told, the women have now won seven individual and one relay national title indoors while adding 10 individual and three relay crowns outdoor. The men, despite not having won an indoor title, have collected 13 individual and one relay national championship, as well as the 1977 team title.

Eight Sun Devils earned All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships, including six women and both men's entrants. For the women, Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon), Amy Hastings (5,000m), Victoria Jackson (5,000m), Jenna Kingma (3,000m), Sarah Stevens (shot put) and Stephanie Garnett (weight throw) all attained the honor while Joshua Kinnaman (heptathlon) and Ryan Zimmerman (triple jump).

The final collegiate track and field meet is on deck for the Sun Devils as those athletes that qualify will travel to Sacramento for the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, June 7-10, at the Alex G. Spanos Athletic Complex on the Sacramento State campus.

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