Conference Meet Awaits Sun Devil Harriers Saturday

Oct. 24, 2006

Meet Notes (pdf)

TEMPE, Ariz. - The championship season gets underway for the Arizona State University cross country program this weekend as the Sun Devils travel to Palo Alto, Calif., Saturday (October 28) for the Pac-10 Cross County Championships hosted by Stanford. The women lead off the day with a 6K race at 10 a.m. followed by the men's 8K run at 11 a.m. with both races being held on the Stanford Golf Course.

In the latest USTFCCCA national rankings (released October 17), the Sun Devil women are ranked No. 8 while the men have slipped out of the Top 30 for the first time this season. Regionally, the women are third in the West while the men are ranked eighth.

The 2006 Pac-10 Championships will see 10 teams compete in the 21st annual women's race and eight men's teams line up for the 38th annual competition (Oregon State and USC do not field men's teams). Despite only having eight teams in the men's race, half of the field holds a national ranking, including No. 5 Stanford, No. 7 Oregon, No. 25 Arizona and No. 26 Washington. In the women's competition, only two teams are ranked, including No. 1 Stanford and the No. 8 Sun Devils.

Last year, Tucson was the host site for the Pac-10 Championships where the women finished second (40 points) for the fourth year in a row while the men took fifth (125 points) on a Del Urich Golf Course that saw Stanford sweep the team titles with the women scoring 34 points and the men 46. Individually, the men saw two runners finish in the Top 15 with Ryan Warrenburg placing 11th and Casey Burchill finishing 15th. On the women's side, Amy Hastings took meet runner-up honors and was followed in the Top 10 by Anna Masinelli (seventh), Jenna Kingma (ninth) and Victoria Jackson (10th).

Last year, the Sun Devil women finished second to Stanford by just six points, the third-closest title race in the history of the Pac-10. Two other meets in history were decided by five points, including the 1990 meet when Oregon edged Washington, 56-61, and then in 1995 when Oregon nipped Arizona, 55-60.

The last time the Pac-10 Championships were held in the Bay Area was in 2004 when California hosted the meet at Golden Gate Park. The event was historic for the Sun Devils as Amy Hastings won the women's individual title, giving Arizona State its first conference cross country title (including individual and team crowns on the men's and women's side) in the history of the program.

The Sun Devil women have been close to knocking Stanford off the top spot in the standings in recent years, placing second to the Cardinal each of the last four years. If the women can upset the top-ranked team in the nation this weekend, they will halt Stanford's current 10-meet winning streak. The men also will take to the course to try and stop Stanford's men from winning their eighth title in a row.

Between 1986 and 1997, the Pac-10 Championships were always held in Palo Alto, Calif. During that time, the Sun Devils did not fare as well as they have in recent years. The men's top finish came in 1986 when the team took fifth overall while the women's best effort came one year later in 1987 with a fourth-place showing. Overall, Sun Devils placed in the lower half of the standings 11-of-12 (men) and 9-of-12 (women) times at Stanford.

Starting with the 1999 meet, the Sun Devils have fared well in the conference meet with the men finishing in the Top 5 all seven times while the women have placed in the Top 3 all seven times. The women have placed second overall each of the last four meets and six of the last seven while the men took runner-up honors in both 2001 and 2004.

The Sun Devils competed in a pair of meets on October 14 with most of the team heading to the Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind., while several others competed in the local Canyon West Classic at Kiwanis Park. In the Hooiser State, the women took third in the 36-team 'blue' race with 224 points and were led by Jenna Kingma (11th overall) and Cassie Rios (16th) while the men finished 16th in the 36-team 'white' race behind Aaron Aguayo (16th) and Kyle Alcorn (29th). Back in Tempe, Sereena Harmon (second), Jenny Cohen (third) and Jessie McLaughlin (fourth) led the way for the women while former Sun Devil All-American Amy Hastings won the meet. On the men's side, ASU had just one entrant in newcomer Shane Snyder, who placed 10th 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 Lemieux, 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 weekend off from competition, the Sun Devils will head to the 2006 NCAA West Region Championships, set for Nov. 11 in Portland. The meet is used as the selection tool for the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 20.

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