Cross Country Heads to Terre Haute for Pre-Nationals

Oct. 11, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. - Following its lone home meet of the season last weekend, the Arizona State University cross country program will divide its ranks and send competitors to a pair of meets this Saturday. Many of the program's top runners will head to Terre Haute, Ind., and the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center for the 2006 NCAA Pre-National Meet hosted by Indiana State. The meet, run on the same course used at the national championships next month, will take place Saturday with start times to be announced Friday afternoon. The remaining Sun Devils will remain in the Valley and compete in the Canyon West Classic, slated for Saturday morning at Kiwanis Park.

The Sun Devils women will return to the site of their best NCAA finish in program history this weekend as they head to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Pre-National Meet. Last November, Arizona State finished fourth in the nation to earn fourth place overall and garner the first trophy in the history of the program.

In the latest national and regional rankings released by the USTFCCCA (Oct. 10), the Sun Devil women are ranked No. 16 while the men are No. 20 while the teams rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the West regional poll.

This weekend's Pre-National meet will once again be filled with many of the top teams in the nation as 24 of the USTFCCCA's Top 30 women's teams and 23 of the men's Top 30 will be on hand to compete. In the women's field, the Sun Devils are the 15th-highest ranked team entered as every team in the Top 10 (except No. 4 Arkansas) is set to compete, including No.1 Stanford. On the men's side, the Sun Devils are the 14th-highest ranked team in the competition with No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Colorado and No. 5 Iona leading the way.

With 90 women's teams and 87 men's teams entered into the meet, each gender will divide into two races based upon several criteria. The NCAA, which was scheduled to release the meet assignments on Wednesday, will release the information on Friday afternoon. The race schedule will be the women's blue race starting at 11 a.m. and will be followed by the women's white race at 11:35 a.m., the men's blue race at 12:10 p.m., the men's white race at 12:50 p.m., the women's open race at 1:30 p.m. and the men's open race at 2:05 p.m.

Last year in Terre Haute, the placed second in the 34-team white race with 96 points while the men placed 17th in the 34-team white race with 472 points. The women were led by Amy Hastings, who placed sixth overall in 20:40.0, while Anna Masinelli (10th) and Jenna Kingma (16th) finishing among the Top 25 in the meet. On the men's side, ASU was led by Casey Burchill, who placed 12th overall in 24:01.0, while Indiana-native Ryan Warrenburg finished 30th overall in his home state.

The 2006 edition of the Canyon West Classic, which starts with the women's 5K run at 8 a.m. and the men's 8K run at 8:45 am, will again feature many of the local junior college and community college teams from the state, including meet host Mesa CC. The meet will be divided into two groupings, including a junior/community college division and a university/open division. Awards for individuals and teams will be handed out at 9:30 a.m.

The 'B' squads competed for ASU last year with the men taking the team title with 17 points while the women finished second overall with 29 points. The women saw Victoria Jackson win the meet in 17:54.0 while Jenna Wrieden placed third and Jessie McLaughlin seventh. The men were led by runner-up Jeremy Cramer (25:37.0) with David Mehlhorn (third), Jack Mann (fourth) and David Gott (seventh) all placing among 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.

The championships season awaits the Sun Devils in two weeks as the team sends its best runners to Stanford for the Pac-10 Cross Country Championships on October 28.

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