ASU Harriers Trek to Minnesota's Roy Griak Invite

Sept. 20, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University cross country program will hit the road for the third time this fall and the first time for a meet outside the borders of the Grand Canyon State as the Sun Devils are set to compete in the 21st Roy Griak Invitational this Saturday on the Les Bolstadt Golf Course in Minneapolis, Minn. The men will run first as their 8k race is set to begin at 11:20 a.m. with the women's 6k race slated for 12:10 p.m.

The first national rankings of the 2006 season were release September 12 with both the men and women's teams earning a place among the Top 30. The women enter the season ranked ninth while the men hold the No. 20 position in the poll.

The Roy Griak Invitational annually brings in some of the top teams in the nation and this year will be no different. The Sun Devil women are the highest ranked of the 30 teams entered with five other squads (No. 13 Baylor, No. 16 Minnesota, No. 18 Marquette, No. 23 Michigan State and No. 26 Virginia) also holding Top 30 billings. On the men's side, the Sun Devils are the fourth-highest ranked squad, trailing No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 8 Arizona and No. 10 Kansas while five other teams are also ranked in the Top 30.

Arizona State is no stranger to the Roy Griak Invitational having competed in the annual event numerous times, including last season. In the 2005 edition of the meet, the women walked away with the championship trophy on the strength of Amy Hastings capturing the individual race crown. The Sun Devils scored 88 points to easily distance themselves from runner-up Minnesota (156) with Baylor (177), Oklahoma State (190) and Princeton (192) rounding out the Top 5. On the men's side, the Sun Devils placed ninth overall with 241 points and were led by Ryan Warrenburg, who finished 11th individually. BYU won the men's team race.

Last weekend, the Sun Devils headed south to Tucson and competed in the Dave Murray Invitational where both the men's and women's teams turned in solid performances in the non-team scored event. On the women's side, nine runners competed with eight finishing in the Top 10, including runner-up Jenna Kingma. Others finishing strong in the meet were Kari Hardt (third), Ali Kielty (fourth), Cassie Rios (fifth), Brooke Bennett (sixth), Krystal Duke (eighth), Whitney Hardt (ninth), Sereena Harmon (10th) and Jenny Cohen (13th). The men saw 13 runners compete for ASU with five finishing in the Top 10 and seven total placing among the Top 20. Leading the way were Aaron Aguayo (third) and Kyle Alcorn (fourth) with Joey Heller (sixth), Mikias Gelagle (seventh) and Kal Clark (10th) placing in the Top 10.

Three women and three men made their Sun Devil debuts at the Dave Murray Invitational with all six running well. On the women's side, true freshman Kari Hardt placed third overall and second among Sun Devil runners in her first collegiate race while both Krystal Duke and Ali Kielty competed in their first races after redshirting the 2005 season, finishing eighth and fourth, respectively. True freshmen Mikias Gelagle and Jeff Helmer also competed in their first collegiate races and placed seventh and 15th, respectively, while Kyle Alcorn, who sat out 2005 after transferring into the program from Oregon, placed fourth overall and second on the Sun Devil squad in his first action with ASU.

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.

Following a week off from competition, the Sun Devils will return to action Oct. 7 when they play host to the 21st Arizona State Invitational at Kiwanis Park in Tempe.

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