Pac-10 Championships Open this Weekend in Tempe

May 7, 2008

Sun Devil Championship Notes (pdf) | Championship Central

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University track & field program will open the championship season this weekend as the 2008 Pac-10 Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships presented by 76 Gasoline gets underway on Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe. The women's heptathlon and men's decathlon will be contested on Friday and Saturday with the remaining events being held next weekend in Tempe.

Fans can purchase their tickets to one of the top collegiate conference meets in the nation by visiting the home of the ASU ticket office online at Tickets for the championships will be $15 for general admission and $13 for juniors (18 and younger)/seniors (60 and older) for single-session (single-day passes) while full session passes (both Friday and Saturday included) are $20 for general admission and $18 for juniors/seniors. Tickets will also be available at the entrance to Sun Angel Stadium on both days of competition (May 16-17). Admission to the heptathlon/decathlon weekend is free.

In the USTFCCCA's latest Top 25 rankings (May 7), both Sun Devil squads are ranked in the Top 10 this week, including the women at No. 1 for the first time this outdoor season and the men at No. 6. The women accumulated 326.16 points to pull ahead of LSU (321.69) while the men jump from No. 11 to No. 6 with 203.55 points. Texas A&M is the new leader on the men's side with 260.93 points while LSU slipped to No. 3 (Florida is now No. 2).

While the bulk of each teams' competitors won't be in town until next weekend, representatives from several highly ranked teams will be on hand this weekend. In the latest (May 7) national Top 25 rankings from the USTFCCCA, 14 of the 19 teams in the Pac-10 (men and women count as two teams with Oregon State not having a men's team) are ranked in the Top 25 including seven in the Top 10. There are eight men's teams ranked, including No. 5 USC, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 7 UCLA, No. 13 Oregon, No. 17 Arizona, No. 19 Washington State, No. 24 Washington and No. 25 California while the women's rankings feature No. 1 Arizona State, No. 4 USC, No. 5 UCLA, No. 8 Stanford, No. 16 Oregon and No. 25 Arizona.

This weekend's events will start late both days with 4 p.m. Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday set as the opening times. The first event for the women's heptathlon each day will be the 100m hurdles at 4 p.m. Friday and the long jump at 5 p.m. Saturday while the men's decathlon will open with the 100m dash at 4:30 p.m. Friday and the 110m hurdles at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The 2008 championship meet marks the fourth time the Sun Devils have played host to the event after joining the Conference in time for the 1979 season. Arizona State has served as the host in 1979, 1991 and 1999 before this year's event.

The Sun Devils will have one woman and one man competing in the multi-events this weekend, including two-time Pac-10 champion and three-time NCAA champion Jacquelyn Johnson in the heptathlon and newcomer Kyle Hitchcock in the decathlon.

Since the heptathlon was first contested at the Pac-10 Championships in 1987 (the same year the first women's championship was held for the Conference), only two women have won the event three times in a career. Tracye Lawyer (Stanford) accomplished the feat in 1997-1998-1999 before Ellannee Richardson (Washington State) pulled off the triple in 2001-2002-2003. With two crowns to her name (2004, 2006), Jacquelyn Johnson, one of six multiple heptathlon victors, will look to win her third this year to join the elite ranks.

Jacquelyn Johnson scored 6,143 points in the heptathlon earlier this year in Tucson to break the school record of 6,135 held by Gea Johnson since 1990. The younger Johnson is now eyeing two more records this weekend as the six-time NCAA champion will try to score more than 6,205 points for both the Pac-10 overall and Pac-10 meet records. That score, which also broke Gea's conference record score of 6,135, was attained by Diana Pickler (Washington State) last year.

With her school-record score of 6,143 points, Jacquelyn Johnson not only sits second all-time in the Pac-10, she also is only one of five women to break the 6,000 point mark in the history of the Conference. Her point total also is currently the best in the world in 2008.

Heading into this weekend's heptathlon, Johnson has secured three Pac-10 titles in her career, including the heptathlon in 2004 and 2006 and the high jump in 2004. Amongst heptathletes, Johnson is tied for the second-most conference titles in Pac-10 history with four others while Tonya Sedwick (UCLA) won four titles, including the heptathlon and long jump in both 1989 and 1991.

In the previous years Arizona State has played host to the Pac-10 Championships, the men have placed no higher than fifth (both in 1991 and 1999) while the women finished third in 1991. The last time Tempe was the site of the championships (1999), the men scored 77.5 points to finish fifth with USC winning (164) while the women took eighth with 45 points (UCLA won with 160.5). The last time the Pac-10 meet was held in the state of Arizona was in Tucson in 2004 where the men placed third and the women fourth.

In the three men's and two men's Pac-10 Championships held in Tempe, the Sun Devils have collected six men's and five women's titles. For the men, Dannie Jackson won the decathlon and long jump in 1979 before titles were won in 1991 by Robert Rucker in the 400m hurdles as well as the 4x400m relay of Rucker, Mike Sulcer, Ed Lovelace and Thomas Koech. In 1999, Dwight Phillips captured both titles as he won the long and triple jumps. On the women's side, Maicel Malone won the 200m, 400m and joined Tesra Bester, LaShawn Simmons and Shanequa Campbell to capture the 4x100m relay while Kim Toney won the 800m run. In 1999, Fiona Daly was the lone victory, claiming gold in the high jump.

The Sun Devils swept the Double Dual in Tucson over the weekend as Arizona State defeated intrastate rivals Arizona and Northern Arizona. The Sun Devils won 26 events (13 by each gender) while recording 43 regional qualifying marks (23 for the women and 20 for the men). Jacquelyn Johnson and Jessica Pressley each won three events for the women while Calvin Abram, Marquis Profit, Matt Turner and Ryan Whiting each won a pair for the men.

Based on their performances last weekend in the Double Dual, Jessica Pressley and Matt Turner were selected as the Pac-10 Women's Field Athlete of the Week and Pac-10 Men's Field Athlete of the Week, respectively, the Conference announced May 6. Pressley won three events in Tucson, including the hammer in a school-record toss of 68.31m, the discus and the shot put, with a nation-leading toss of 17.62m. Turner won the long jump (7.96m) and the triple jump (15.67m) while placing second in the high jump. The honors are the first of the season for the duo and mark the third and fourth, respectively, for the team in 2008.

Of all the stellar marks earned by the Sun Devils in Tucson, six women's and four men's marks ranked among the Top 10 all-time in Arizona State history while two women's marks ranked among the Top 10 in the history of the Pac-10.

Jessica Pressley won the hammer, discus and shot put in Tucson with two of her marks making a big splash. In the hammer, she launched the ball 68.31m to break the school record and move up to No. 2 in the history of the Pac-10. She followed that up with a win in the discus with a toss of 54.24m before closing out the day with a victory in the shot put with a nation-leading mark of 17.62m. Along with leading the nation in the shot, Pressley currently (as of May 5) ranks third in the NCAA in the hammer and seventh in the discus.

While Pressley moved up to No. 2 in the hammer on the all-time Pac-10 list, April Kubishta did some moving of her own in the pole vault as the senior cleared a height of 14-02.00 (4.32m) to not only shatter her own school record, but also move into a tie for the sixth-highest clearance in conference history. Kubishta, the national leader and among the Top 15 in the world currently, is the only Sun Devil to clear 14-feet in both an indoor and outdoor meet.

Jacquelyn Johnson joined Jessica Pressley as winners of three events at the Double Dual when she captured the 100m hurdles (13.27), the high jump (1.80m) and the long jump 6.26m). Johnson also took second in the javelin (44.11m).

Dominique' Maloy is only a freshman, but she has turned in some of the top times in program history, including a pair of times in the short sprints at the Double Dual that rank among the Top 10 in Arizona State history. Maloy ranks ninth in the 200m dash with her time of 23.53 while her 100m time of 11.60 is the 10th-best.

Of the 13 wins recorded by the women, six came in the sprints (one event, the 4x100m relay, was not contested). Charonda Williams won the 100m (11.41) with the third-fastest time in school history before taking the 200m dash (23.38); Jeavon Benjamin won the 400m dash in 53.48; Jacquelyn Johnson won the 100m hurdles (13.27); Roshawnda Brown won the 400m hurdles (1:03.76) and the 4x400m relay won in 3:50.57 running by themselves.

Eight field events were contested at the Double Dual, including the long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, hammer, shot put, discus and javelin. Of the 16 possible titles, the Sun Devils combined to win 13 crowns, including sweeps of the long jump (Jacquelyn Johnson & Matt Turner), pole vault (April Kubishta & Corey Phallen), shot put (Jessica Pressley & Ryan Whiting), discus (Pressley & Whiting) and javelin (Lissa Regets & Brad Roth). The other victories came from Johnson in the women's high jump, Turner in the men's triple jump and Pressley in the women's hammer.

Along with marks mentioned above, several other Sun Devils earned marks that fell on the all-time Top 10. For the women, Tai Battle moved up to No. 3 on the hammer chart with a toss of 63.16m while Jeff Helwig moved up to No. 10 on the men's hammer list at 56.55m. Two men improved their standing on the 400m hurdle list with Marquis Profit climbing to No. 7 at 51.17 while Joel Phillip recorded the No. 9 time of 51.44.

Six current and three former Sun Devils currently hold marks that rank them among the Top 20 in the world (as of May 6) with five total men and four women earning those marks. The women have current stars Jacquelyn Johnson ranked No. 1 in the heptathlon (6,143 points) while April Kubishta is tied for 12th in the pole vault (4.32m) and Jessica Pressley is tied for 20th in the shot put (17.62m). The men have Joel Phillip ranked 10th in the 400m dash (45.34), Ryan Whiting is 13th in the shot put (20.22m) and Matt Turner is tied for 16th in the long jump (7.96m). The remaining Sun Devils on the list include Dwight Phillips, who is third in the long jump (8.24m), Fasil Bizuneh, who is 12th in the 10,000m run (27:50.48) and Latosha Wallace, who is 16th in the 400m hurdles (56.39).

According to the latest update of the NCAA's descending order lists (May 5), eight women's and six men's marks currently rank in the Top 8 of their respective events. On the women's side, Sarah Stevens is in the Top 8 in a trio of events, including fourth in the hammer, sixth in the discus and seventh in the shot put while Jessica Pressley is in the same boat with a first-place mark in the shot put, third in the hammer and seventh in the discus. Jacquelyn Johnson is first in the heptathlon while April Kubishta is tied for first in the pole vault. For the men, Ryan Whiting and Matt Turner both are in the Top 8 in two events with Whiting standing second in the shot put and sixth in the discus while Turner is fourth in the long jump and tied for seventh in the high jump. Kyle Alcorn (steeple) and Joel Phillip (400m) are both fourth in their respective events.

On the latest descending order lists for the conference, three men and five women's marks rank as the best in the league. For the men, Kyle Alcorn leads the steeplechase at 8:38.52 and Ryan Whiting leads the shot put at 21.73m while the 4x400m relay has the top time in 3:05.85. On the women's side, Sarah Stevens is the leader in both the shot put (17.78m) and discus (55.71m) while Jacquelyn Johnson is tops in the heptathlon (6,143 points) and the long jump (6.50m). April Kubishta rounds out the leaders with her mark of 4.32m in the pole vault.

The MPSF announced its annual indoor academic honors this week with nine Sun Devil men and seven women earning placement on the list. The men's honorees included Kyle Alcorn, Ben Engelhardt, Andy Haas, Joey Heller, Jeff Helmer, Jeff Helwig, Justin Kremer, Jason Lewis and Ryan Whiting while the women's honorees included Jacquelyn Johnson, Ali Kielty, Jenna Kingma, April Kubishta, D'Metra Macedon, Sarah Stevens and Alana Waterford.

To say Johnson had a strong opening in the heptathlon would be an understatement as the senior and three-time defending NCAA champion scored a school-record 6,143 points, bettering the mark of 6,125 points by Gea Johnson in 1990. Johnson won all seven events of the Jim Click Combined Events heptathlon and regionally qualified in four of those events, including the 100m hurdles, the high jump, the long jump and the javelin. Her javelin throw of 46.45m (152-05) also is the school record, giving her two on the day.

On March 14-15, the Sun Devils traveled 21 student-athletes to the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships and returned with both the men's and women's national team titles, accomplishing the feat for just the second time in NCAA history (LSU did so in 2004). The women scored 51 points with LSU finishing second with 43 points in the women's race while the men edged out favorite Florida State, 44-41, for their first indoor team crown.

The titles earned by the Sun Devil men and women are the 134th and 135th national titles captured by Arizona State in school history. The wins are the 39th and 66th national titles for the men and women, respectively, while 30 other titles were won in coed events (20 in mixed archery and 10 in mixed badminton).

With the team victory, the Sun Devil women successfully defended their first national tittle won last year when the team captured the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The Sun Devils, ranked No. 1 last year, edged No. 2 LSU, 38-33, to win their first indoor crown. This year, the rankings were reversed, but the Sun Devils still won.

Arizona State's women have been dominant over the course of the past year as the Sun Devils have won seven championship meets in a row. Those meets include the 2007 MPSF Indoor Championships, the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, the 2007 Pac-10 Championships, the 2007 NCAA West Region Championships, the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the 2008 MPSF Indoor Championships and the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships.

With 44 points, the Sun Devil men won their first indoor championship and became the 14th different men's program to capture the indoor crown since the NCAA began sponsoring an indoor meet in 1965. The title is the second in program history for the men as the 1977 team captured the outdoor championship, the first team title in ASU track & field history.

The men's team victory at the NCAA Indoor Championships marked the first men's team title earned for the Sun Devil athletic department since 1996 when the men's golf team captured their second championship (also won in 1990). Prior to the women winning last year and this year, the previous Sun Devil national champions were the 1998 women's golf team.

The women's team, which is one of only seven programs to win an NCAA indoor title since the association began sponsoring the event in 1983, repeated as national champions, marking just the fifth time in NCAA history that a team has won back-to-back titles. The last to do so was LSU (2002-2003-2004). The other schools to do so were UCLA (2000-2001), LSU (1993-1994-1995-1996-1997) and Nebraska (1983-1984).

The women's team was not the only repeat winners on the weekend for the Sun Devils as Jacquelyn Johnson secured her third indoor pentathlon crown in a row, scoring a collegiate and meet record 4,496 points. In her career, Johnson has three titles and one runner-up finish (second as a true freshman in 2004).

When Jacquelyn Johnson successfully defended her indoor pentathlon crowns she won at the 2006 and 2007 NCAA meets, she became just the ninth woman to win the same event three times in a career at the indoor championships and the second Sun Devil, joining Maicel Malone, who won the 400m dash in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Other three-time champions include Regina Cavanaugh of Rice (shot put, 1984-85-86), Suzy Favor of Wisconsin (mile, 1987-89-90), Vicki Huber of Villanova (3,000m, 1987-88-89), Carlette Guidry of Texas (55m, 1988-90-91), Amy Wickus of Wisconsin (800m, 1993-94-95), Amy Acuff of UCLA (high jump, 1994-95-96) and Trecia Smith of Pittsburgh (long jump, 1997-98-99).

The teams and Johnson were not the only champions over the weekend as two men captured individual titles in remarkable fashion. Ryan Whiting led off by winning the shot put with a huge toss of 71-03.50 (21.73m) to set the collegiate record in the event. In the second-to-last event of the meet, Kyle Alcorn stormed to the front of the pack late in the 3,000m race to capture the national crown and put the Sun Devils in a position to win the team title.

Jacquelyn Johnson and Ryan Whiting both set collegiate records in winning their national crowns over the weekend. Johnson, who entered the meet with a best of 4,312 points in the pentathlon, ended the meet with 4,496 points, breaking the collegiate record of 4,439 points set in 2002 by Austra Skuyte (Kansas State) and bettering the meet mark of 4,412 points scored by Hyleas Fountain (Georgia) in 2004 when she defeated Johnson for the first NCAA pentathlon crown.

While Johnson broke a record that was set a few years ago, Whiting broke the 31 year-old mark of Terry Albritton (Stanford), who threw 70-06.50 (21.50m) in 1977. Whiting, who recorded a toss of 71-03.50 (21.73m) on his final throw of the competition, is now the collegiate, meet and Pac-10 indoor record holder while ranking third all-time on the Pac-10 lists as two marks recorded outdoors are ahead of Whiting.

Needing some big points in the 3,000m run at the end of the meet, Kyle Alcorn stepped onto the track as the 14th-ranked runner in the race. Alcorn surged ahead mid-way through the race and took the lead before relinquishing it. Sitting in fifth place with two laps to go, Alcorn again surged ahead and captured the lead that he held onto for the remainder of the race, crossing the line in 8:00.82 to not only win his first national title, but giving ASU 10 team points and tying it with Florida State at 38 points heading into the 4x400m relay.

With the team race down to ASU and FSU and only the 4x400m relay remaining, all the Sun Devils had to do was finish ahead of the Seminoles in the standings of the race to secure a team crown. In the three-heat race, FSU ran first and clocked a time of 3:07.47, meaning ASU had to finish faster, which it did as Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Joel Phillip clocked in at 3:06.34 to win the third heat and place third overall, pushing FSU to sixth in the race and giving ASU the team title.

The United States Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced its national award winners following the NCAA Indoor Championships with four Sun Devils garnering five of the eight national accolades available. Greg Kraft was selected as the Women's National and Men's National Coach of the Year; David Dumble was voted the Women's National Assistant Coach of the Year; Jacquelyn Johnson was named the Women's National Field Athlete of the Year; and Ryan Whiting was selected as the Men's National Field Athlete of the Year.

The women had three runner-up finishes and the men added a pair to help both teams to victory in Fayetteville. On the men's side, second-place finishes were recorded by April Kubishta (pole vault), Sarah Stevens (shot put) and Jessica Pressley (weight throw) while the men's second-place finishers included Joel Phillip (400m dash) and the distance medley relay of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly Barbosa and Kyle Alcorn.

From the results recorded at the NCAA Indoor Championships, five women's marks and three men's rank among the Top 5 all-time in ASU history, including three women's and two men's school records. On the women's side, school-records went to April Kubishta in the pole vault (4.30m), Jessica Pressley in the weight throw (22.04m) and Jacquelyn Johnson in the pentathlon (4,496 points) while the men's records included Ryan Whiting in the shot put (21.73m) and the distance medley relay of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly Barbosa and Kyle Alcorn. Both 4x400m relays rank among the Top 3, including the second-best time of 3:33.53 by the women (Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock, Jordan Durham, Jeavon Benjamin) and the third-best time of 3:06.34 by the men (Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Kremer, Joel Phillip). The final Top 3 mark came from Johnson in the 60m hurdles (8.23).

Overall, nine women and nine men each earned All-America honors from the USTFCCCA, including two women and four men that earned two honors each. Multiple honors were earned by Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon & long jump) and Jessica Pressley (shot put & weight throw) for the women and men's competitors Kyle Alcorn (3,000m & DMR), Jimmie Gordon (400m & 4x400m), Justin Kremer (4x400m & DMR) and Joel Phillip (400m & 4x400m). Other women's All-Americans included Jeavon Benjamin (4x400m), Jordan Durham (4x400m), Shauntel Elcock (4x400m), Stephanie Garnett (long jump), April Kubishta (pole vault), Dominique' Maloy (4x400m) and Sarah Stevens (shot put) while the men included Nectaly Barbosa (DMR), Darryl Elston (4x400m), Joey Heller (DMR), Matt Turner (long jump) and Ryan Whiting (shot put).

Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium went under the knife recently as the home of Arizona State University track and field was resurfaced with the latest product from Mondo, Mondotrack FTX. ASU's home venue is the first in the world to be surfaced with the product, which also will be installed at Beijing's Olympic Stadium in time for the 2008 Summer Games. Along with the new surface came an expanded shot put area and the addition of a second 'D' zone (at the north end of the infield). The majority of the surface will be maroon/red in color with the only exceptions being the three exchange zones on the track and the non-runway areas of both 'D' zones, which will be gold. The project was complete Jan. 29.

The remaining events of the 2008 Pac-10 Conference Track & Field Championships presented by 76 Gasoline will be conducted next Friday and Saturday (May 16-17) on Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Track in Tempe.

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