ASU Cross Country Heads to Tucson for Murray Invite

Sept. 12, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. - The second meet of the 2006 season awaits the Arizona State University cross country program this weekend as members of the Sun Devil teams will head south to Tucson for the Dave Murray Invitational Friday afternoon on the Del Urich Golf Course near the Arizona campus. The men lead off with a 6k run starting a 5:15 p.m. before the women take part in a 4k run set to start at 5:50 p.m.

The Sun Devils will be competing on the Del Urich course once again after running in the Dave Murray Invitational last year before competing in the 2005 Pac-10 Championships. At the conference meet, the women placed second overall while the men tied for fifth. This week's meet will be shorter as the Pac-10 meet saw the women compete in a 6k circuit and the men in a 10k run.

The Dave Murray Invitational will have a very distinct Grand Canyon State flavor as all the teams slated to compete hail from Arizona. Along with Arizona State and host Arizona, schools scheduled to compete include Northern Arizona, Central Arizona and Pima Community College (Tucson).

The first USTFCCCA rankings were released Sept. 12 and both the men and the women hold a place among the Top 30. The women, coming off their fourth-place finish nationally last year, enter the season ranked No. 9 while the men, the 17th-place finisher at the NCAA meet in 2005, opens the season ranked No. 20.

At the 2005 edition of the Dave Murray Invitational, the Sun Devil women fared quite well in the non-team scored event. Brooke Bennett won the women's race in 22:23.0 as the Sun Devils finished first, second (Whitney Hardt) and third (Angela Spadafino) overall with redshirting athletes Krystal Duke and Ali Kielty placing fifth and sixth, respectively. The men were led by Kal Clark, who placed 11th overall in 26:23.0, while Kyle Alcorn, who was taking a redshirt season last year after transferring from Oregon, placed eighth overall in 25:59.0.

Two weeks ago, the Sun Devils opened the season by competing at the George Kyte Invitational with both the men and women finishing third in the eight-team fields at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff. Whitney Hardt led the way for the women as she finished second overall in 18:21.7 while Sereena Harmon, in her first race with the program, finished fifth in 18:39.2. On the men's side, David Gott was the leader as he finished 11th in 26:36.5 while David Mehlhorn was right behind him in 12th place in 26:40.8.

The Sun Devils will be looking to extend recent streaks of competing in the national championships this season with the women in search of their ninth-consecutive appearance and the men looking for their third in a row. Dating back to 1998, the women have competed in every NCAA Championship meet, placing in the Top 25 each time and recording Top 10 finishes three times, including the last two years. The men have made the 32-team field four time, including the last two meets, and have placed among the Top 20 every time.

Last year, five women and one man earned All-Pac-10 honors with just one of the women returning for the 2006 season. On the women's side, Amy Hastings and Anna Masinelli each collected first team honors while second team selections went to Rachel Ellison, Victoria Jackson and Jenna Kingma, the lone returning runner. The men saw Ryan Warrenburg collect second team honors.

The 2006 roster features 20 women and 17 men with three women and six men coming to Tempe as true freshmen. For the women, 13 runners return from last year with three of the women coming off a redshirt season while the men return 11 athletes with five entering the season following a redshirt campaign. The women will return six athletes that competed in either the Pac-10, West Region and/or NCAA Championships, including Brooke Bennett, Whitney Hardt, Jenna Kingma, Corey Randall, Cassie Rios and Angela Spadafino. The men have four runners back that competed in the championship meets including Kal Clark, Eric Dall, Joey Heller and David Mehlhorn. The men also will bring back Aaron Aguayo, who competed in all three meets in 2004, and Kyle Alcorn, who competed for Oregon in 2004.

Six women and seven men are on the roster for their first cross country season with the Sun Devils in 2006, including three women and six men entering as true freshmen. For the women, the rookie class includes Whitney Blue, Kari Hardt and Jenn Schraven while the men's freshman class includes Collin Eckelman, Ben Engelhardt, Mikias Gelagle, Jeff Helmer, Garrett Kelly and Patrick Milloy. The women's newcomers also include junior transfers Jenny Cohen (Scottsdale CC) and Sereena Harmon (Paradise Valley CC) and the addition of D'Metra Macedon, a member of the 2006 track and field team. The lone non-rookie on the men's side is Kyle Alcorn who joins the squad after sitting the 2005 season following his transfer from Oregon.

Last year, Whitney Hardt completed her redshirt freshman season with the Sun Devils and ran in four races, including the Pac-10 Championships. This year, she welcomes her younger sister Kari to the team. The addition of the younger Hardt marks the second time in as many years that siblings have appeared on the ASU roster after JJ Duke and younger sister Krystal Duke were teammates in 2005.

The Sun Devil rosters boast 12 women and seven men hailing from the state of Arizona with another five and three, respectively, calling California home. The two remaining women and four of the remaining seven men call the eastern portion of the United States their home. For the women, the Sun Devils have one runner each from Ohio and Vermont (the most eastern representative on the roster) while the four eastern men hail from Kentucky, Iowa, Maryland and Ohio.

Each team has selected two captains for the season. The women's captains are Corey Randall and Cassie Rios while the men will be led by Aaron Aguayo and Eric Dall.

Louie Quintana returns for his third season at the helm of the Sun Devil program in 2006 and will look to continue the recent trend of success the Sun Devils have enjoyed under him. The 2006 USTFCCCA National Assistant Coach of the Year for Women's Distance Track & Field, Quintana's runners made great strides in 2005 with his women playing a vital role in the program's first 'Triple Crown' as ASU secured trophy finishes (Top 4) at all three NCAA Championships (third at the indoor NCAA meet and fourth at both the NCAA cross country and NCAA outdoor track & field meet). His harriers also struck gold on the track, including national titles for Amy Hastings in the indoor 5,000m run and Victoria Jackson in the outdoor 10,000m event. His women also played a vital role in the success of the Sun Devils at the Pac-10 meet as three individual champions and 71 points scored helped secure the team's first conference team championship crown.

Arizona State will make its annual trek to Minneapolis, Minn., next weekend for the 21st annual Roy Griak Invitational, set for Sept. 23.

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