Harriers Set to Host ASU Invitational this Weekend

Oct. 4, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University cross country program will compete in its lone home meet of the 2006 season this weekend as the Sun Devils are set to play host to the 21st ASU Invitational Saturday morning at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. The women open the meet with a 5k run starting at 7:30 a.m. before the men close out the invitational with their 8k race at 8:15 a.m.

Following competition at the Roy Griak Invitational two weeks ago, the Sun Devils remained in the USTFCCCA National Top 30 as the women are No. 16 and the men No. 20. On the men's side, two teams that will compete in Tempe this weekend also are ranked, including Arizona (No. 7) and Northern Arizona (receiving votes).

The ASU Invitational will feature 12 teams, including nine teams hailing from the Grand Canyon State. The teams that have registered for the 2006 meet include: Arizona State, Arizona State Alumni, Arizona, Northern Arizona, Rice, Dine College, Mesa Community College, Phoenix College, Scottsdale Community College, Western New Mexico University, Yavapai College and the University of Victoria (Canada).

One of the teams set to compete this weekend is a group of Sun Devil cross country and track & field alums. Registered to compete for the women's team are Alvina Begay, Mary Duerbeck, Colleen Epstein, Lisa Galaviz, Amy Hastings, Anna Masinelli and Brianna Torres. On the men's side, the Sun Devil alums will send out John Ball, Fasil Bizuneh, Ronnie Buchanan, Casey Burchill, Roger Cahill, JR Cox, Griffin Lee, Dan Maher, Jeremy Rasmussen, Matt Repak, Juan Reyes and Ari Rodriguez.

Located at Baseline Road and Mill Avenue in Tempe, Kiwanis Park serves as the home course for the Sun Devil cross country team and will once again play host to the ASU Invitational this weekend and Mesa Community College's Canyon West Classic next weekend.

Last year, the Sun Devil men won the ASU Invitational while the women placed second overall in the nine-team competition at Kiwanis Park. For the women, Brooke Bennett won the 5k race, giving her two individual victories on the season and the fourth win for a Sun Devil woman in as many meets on the season. The men were led by Jeremy Cramer as he finished the 8k run in fourth place overall.

Prior to not competing last weekend, the Sun Devils headed to Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational and turned in solid performances in both races. The champions of the 2005 meet, the women placed second overall this year with Jenna Kingma leading the way with her 12th-place finish. The women also saw its Top 5 runners finish in the Top 31 to accumulate 113 points while UC Santa Barbara won the event with 91 points. The men placed fourth overall in the meet and were led by an outstanding run by Aaron Aguayo, who placed third overall.

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.

Two meets await the Sun Devils next weekend. Several members of the team will head to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Pre-National race on Saturday, Oct. 14, while the remaining members of the team will compete in the Canyon West Classic at Kiwanis Park the same day.

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