Sun Devil Track & Field Heads to Texas A&M, Washington

Feb. 12, 2009

Sun Devil Meet Notes (pdf)

TEMPE - The Arizona State University track and field team will once again divide its ranks and head to a pair of meets this weekend with the sprints, jumps and throws heading to the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, Texas, on Friday and Saturday while the mid-distance and distance runners will compete in the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday. The Husky meet will be the first action of the indoor season for the distance runners.

The Sun Devil Track & Field program will be holding a preseason reception on Monday, February 23, at the Old Main Building on the Tempe campus, starting at 7 p.m. Fans, family and friends are all invited to attend the gathering as the newest members of the team are introduced while also celebrating the teams' national championship runs over the past two years. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Ryan Cole in the ASU Track & Field office at 480.965.0016 or via email at

This weekend's competitions will be the first action of the year for many of the Sun Devils, including most of the athletes headed to Seattle. Many of the distance runners that will compete in the Husky Classic will be running their first races since the cross country season at that ended in November. In Texas, Ryan Whiting will be making his season debut in the shot put, the event he won at the NCAA Championships last year with a collegiate indoor record toss of 21.73m (71-03.50).

The Texas A&M meet will not only give the Sun Devils some solid competition, it also will give the team a preview of the venue that will host the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships. Gilliam Indoor Track at the McFerrin Athletic Center in College Station will be the site of the national meet next month (March 13-14) where ASU will look to defend the two crowns it won last year in Fayetteville, Ark.

Last week at the NAU Team Challenge in Flagstaff, Sarah Stevens launched the weight 21.59m (70-10.00) to win the event and take over the national lead collegiately. Her mark, the second-best in school history, currently ranks as the fourth-best in the world. Stevens also holds the second-best shot put mark this season (16.90m) and has automatically qualified for both events at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Charonda Williams has opened well this season in the 60m dash, running an altitude-adjusted 7.42 to open the year, which was 0.01 off her personal best, before crushing that time -- and the school record -- on January 31 with a converted 7.33. Williams' time, the fifth-best in the nation so far this year, broke the school record of 7.39 that was held by both Dawnyell Linder (1999) and Porchea Carroll (2005). Williams currently ranks seventh in the nation in the 200m dash as well after running 23.81 in her first meet of the year.

Last week at the New Mexico Classic, Williams lowered her time in the 200m dash to 23.74 and moved up to 13th nationally on the descending order lists. Her time in the event in Albuquerque was the winning time in the race. Williams came back later in the day and ran one of the legs of the 4x400m relay, helping Jeavon Benjamin, Dominique' Maloy and Shauntel Elcock to a winning time of 3:44.82.

Jason Lewis has become quite the story so far this season. Through two meets, Lewis has automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in two events (weight throw and shot put), broken one school record (his own in the weight throw) and recorded personal-best throws in two events. Last week, Lewis won the shot put at the Mountain 'T' Invitational in Flagstaff with a toss of 19.30m (63-04.00), the exact distance needed for the automatic berth, and bettered his previous personal best by over three feet. One week earlier, he hit an automatic mark of 22.04m to break his own school record in the weight throw and also better his own personal-best by over three feet as well.

Donald Sanford lowered his 400m time at the Mountain 'T' Invitational, clocking in at 46.76 to easily win the race. His time, which bettered his opening-week performance of 47.15, currently ranks at the eighth-best in the nation and is the top mark in the MPSF.

The weight throw produced a pair of Top 5 all-time marks in Sun Devil history last weekend with both coming at the NAU Team Challenge. In the women's event, Sarah Steven's toss of 21.59m (70-10.00) bettered her previous personal best and bettered her position as the No. 2 toss of all-time at ASU. In the men's event, Jeff Helwig continued to improve and hit a mark of 17.35m (56-11.25), which was good enough to move him into the No. 5 position.

Looking at the latest update of the NCAA's indoor descending order lists, six recorded marks rank among the national Top 12 currently with all eight marks on the list standing among the Top 20. On the men's side, Jason Lewis is ranked second in the shot put at 19.30m and third in the weight throw at 22.04m while Donald Sanford stands eighth in the 400m dash at 46.76. On the men's side, Sarah Stevens leads the nation in the weight throw at 21.59m and is second in the shot put at 16.90m while Charonda Williams is ranked tied for fifth in the 60m dash (7.33) and 13th in the 200m (23.74). Stephanie Garnett is the final Sun Devil on the national lists as she ranks tied for 17th in the long jump (6.22m).

The USTFCCCA released the latest set of national rankings (February 10) with the Sun Devils remaining among the Top 10 this week. The men remained at No. 2 while the women slipped one spot to No. 10 in the rankings that are based upon points earned for where athletes' mark rank nationally. Arkansas leads the men's rankings with ASU, Oregon, Florida, and Texas A&M rounding out the Top 5 while the women's Top 5 is comprised of Texas A&M, Tennessee, Michigan, Oregon and LSU.

Three current Sun Devils currently have marks/times that rank them among the Top 20 in the world with the Sarah Stevens on the list in two events. Her toss of 21.59m in the weight throw ranks her fourth in the world while her 16.90m mark in the shot put is tied for 19th. Charonda Williams is currently tied for 20th in the 200m dash while the lone men's world ranking is held by Jason Lewis in the weight throw with his mark of 22.04m standing 10th. Former Sun Devil Matt Turner has been competing in the long jump recently and his mark of 8.03m recorded last week in the New Mexico Classic is currently fifth-best in the world.

A total of 19 different athletes competed for Arizona State for the first time at the Friday Night Challenge, including 11 men and eight women. Among those athletes were 10 true freshman (six women and four men) and six transfers (one woman and five men). Several of those debuts were quite solid, including true freshman Cara Carpenter winning the women's pole vault and true freshman Kauren Tarver winning the women's 800m run. Four rookie men kept themselves busy in their first meets for the Sun Devils as multi-event freshmen Duggan Grant (five events), Jamie Sandys (four) and Austin Prince (four) prepared for their first heptathlon this weekend, as did redshirt freshman Alexander Wentz (four events).

In 2008, both track & field and cross country, has seen its student-athletes earn academic honors, both in the conference and nationally. Following the most recent cross country season, Jenna Kingma was selected as the Toyo Tires Pac-10 Student-Athlete of the Year for Women's Cross Country to become the latest highly regarded honoree. Last year, April Kubishta was named the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year for women's track & field after Ryan Whiting (indoor) and Sarah Stevens (outdoor) were selected as the 2008 USTFCCCA Men's Field Scholar-Athlete and Women's Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

While the current edition of the Sun Devils get set to open their season this weekend, several former distance runners recently competed in one of two prestigious races on Sunday, one of which was a national champion. In Houston at the U.S. Half-Marathon Championships, four former Devils competed, including Fasil Bizuneh, who placed sixth in the men's race in 1:02.40, and Desiree Davila, who was fourth overall in the women's race at 1:12.24. Alvina Begay took 17th in 1:15.39 while Amy Hastings was 24th in 1:17.13. Back in the Valley, a pair of women competed in the P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll Marathon, including current graduate assistant coach Jenna Wrieden, who was ninth among women in 2:50.45, and Cassie Bando (formerly Rios), who took 11th among women in 2:51.58. They were two of 2,972 women to finish the 26.2 mile race.

Arizona State enters the indoor season as the defending national champions as both the men and the women captured titles at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. (March 14-15). The women scored 51 points to win their second crown in a row as LSU took second with 43 points. The men, who won their first indoor crown in program history, edged top-ranked Florida State, 44-41, for the title.

The Sun Devil sweep in Arkansas last March was just the second time in NCAA indoor championship history that the same school won both crowns. The only other school to do so was LSU in 2004. If ASU can win at least one title this indoor season, it will fare better than LSU as the 2005 titles went to Arkansas (men) and Tennessee (women).

Arizona State's women are the two-time defending champions after claiming crowns in the 2007 and 2008 meets. One of only five schools to win back-to-back indoor titles, the Sun Devil women are position to become only the second school to win three in a row or more following LSU's five in a row streak (1993-97) and another three in a row (2002-04) by the Tigers. The only other schools to have won back-to-back crowns were Nebraska (1983-84), Texas (1998-99) and UCLA (2000-01).

Heading into the indoor season, the men will look to defend their crown and, if successful, would become just the fourth school to win back-to-back titles, joining Kansas, UTEP (twice) and Arkansas (three times). The last time the men's champion won in back-to-back years was in 2005 and 2006 when host Arkansas won.

During the 2008 seasons, the Sun Devils combined to win six team championships with four from the women and two from the men. The women won a pair of conference championships, claiming the MPSF (indoor) and Pac-10 (outdoor) while also winning the NCAA Indoor Championships and NCAA Outdoor West Region. The men also won NCAA Indoor Championships and the NCAA Outdoor West Region, their first in both meets.

Last year, Arizona State athletes won seven individual national titles, including three indoors and four outdoors. Of those titles, only two return this year, including Ryan Whiting, the defending indoor shot put champion, and Sarah Stevens, the defending outdoor discus champion. Whiting won his first national title with a heave of 21.53m (71-03.50) to set the NCAA meet and Pac-10 indoor records. Stevens, who won the indoor shot put in 2007, captured her first outdoor title in the discus on her second-to-last throw (184-02) to edge teammate Tai Battle for the crown.

Three Sun Devils that won a combined five national titles last year are not back after graduating from ASU and exhausting their eligibility. Those athletes include 2008 U.S. Olympian Jacquelyn Johnson, Jessica Pressley and Kyle Alcorn. Johnson won her third indoor pentathlon crown with an NCAA indoor and NCAA meet record score of 4,496 points before winning her fourth outdoor heptathlon title. Pressley successfully defended her outdoor shot put crown while also earning All-America honors in the hammer and discus in the same meet. Alcorn was a vital player in the Sun Devil men's success as he won the indoor 3,000m run as the 14th-seeded runner and then captured the outdoor steeplechase.

Prior to finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field and earning a berth in the Beijing Olympics, Jacquelyn Johnson made history in the heptathlon at the NCAA meet as she became the first four-time champion in the event and only the fourth woman in NCAA history to capture the same event four times in a career. The Pac-10 and Arizona State record holder, the senior from Yuma, Ariz., joined the company of four-time champions Suzy Favor of Wisconsin in the 1,5000m run (1987-88-89-90), Seilala Sua of UCLA in the discus (1997-98-99-00) and Angela Williams of USC in the 100m dash (99-00-01-02).

In her specialty event (multi-events), Jacquelyn Johnson was a seven-time national champion, winning three indoor pentathlons and four outdoor heptathlons. The only non-first-place finish in the pentathlon came in 2004 when Johnson, a true freshman, finished second overall at the national meet to senior Hyleas Fountain.

Three marks recorded at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships by the Sun Devils found a place on the all-time world rankings. Ryan Whiting's toss of 21.53m (71-03.50) in the shot put ranks as the 33rd-best throw in the history of the indoor event. Those 33 marks were recorded by 13 different men with Whiting ranking 13th overall in the world and eighth among men from the United States.

Jacquelyn Johnson also appears on the all-time world rankings list with her 4,496 point-performance in the pentathlon at the NCAA Championships in 2008. Although that score ranks as the 96th-best (tie) all-time in the world, it ranks as the third-best among American women. The scores ahead of Johnson came from DeDee Nathan (4,753 in 1999) and Kym Carter (4,696 in 1995).

The distance medley relay team of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly Barbosa and Kyle Alcorn ran a school-record 9:32.49 and finished as the national runners-up. That time, which ranks 29th all-time on the world lists, sparked the Sun Devil men to the national title.

There are 15 athletes returning for the Sun Devils this year that have earned All-America honors in their ASU careers, including nine women and six men. Those women include Jeavon Benjamin, Shauntel Elcock, Stephanie Garnett, Kari Hardt, Ali Kielty, Jenna Kingma, Dominique' Maloy, Sarah Stevens and Charonda Williams with the men's group comprised of Nectaly Barbosa, Darryl Elston, Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Joel Phillip and Ryan Whiting.

The 2009 Sun Devil rosters are made up of 96 student-athletes. There are 52 men and 44 women that will compete for the Sun Devils, including 25 men and 23 women that are returning from last year.

Of those 96 athletes on the roster this spring, 48 are new to the program, including 27 men and 21 women. Thirty of the 48 newcomers are freshmen, including 14 women and 16 men that are entering their first collegiate seasons after high school graduation.

Last year, six members of the program were honored with academic accolades from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) as three men and three women were named to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII teams. For the men, Justin Kremer and Ryan Whiting both earned first team honors while Jason Lewis was a second team selection. The women saw April Kubishta and Sarah Stevens each earned first team honors while Ali Kielty was a second-team honoree.

Arizona State's women became only the second team in Pac-10 history to win the conference crown three times in a row as the Sun Devils scored 186.5 points, the second-highest total in conference history (189.5 is the record). UCLA, which leads the league with 15 overall titles, had win streak of eight, four and three with the only other program to win multiple titles being Oregon, which won twice in a row. The Sun Devils' three titles also stands as the second-most in Pac-10 history.

For the second year in a row, the Sun Devil men came up short in the team standings as Oregon walked away with the title. The Ducks scored 144.5 points to defend their crown while the Sun Devils took second at 134, just 9.5 points off the leaders one year removed from finishing three points shy of the gold.

While the Sun Devils fell three points shy of UCLA's all-time point total of 189.5 (set in 1997), Arizona State did set a record as it recorded the largest margin of victory in Pac-10 Championships history. The Sun Devils' 69.5 margin over Stanford (186.5-117) is 8.5 points higher than UCLA's 1989 victory over Oregon (161-100) of 61 points. ASU nearly holds the record for lowest margin of victory as its 2.5 point win over Stanford in 2006 (154-151.5) is the second-smallest behind only UCLA's 2001 victory over USC, 155-153 (2.0 points).

The Sun Devils won a total of 12 events at the main portion of the Pac-10 Championships (not including the heptathlon/decathlon from the previous week), six by each gender, with two women and two men each winning two events. For the women, Charonda Williams swept the short sprints by capturing the 100m and 200m dash events while thrower Jessica Pressley doubled in the shot put and discus. On the men's side, Matt Turner won the long jump and the triple jump with Kyle Alcorn won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m.

Darryl Elston had a hand in a pair of victories as he captured the 200m dash and ran one of the legs on the victorious 4x400m relay with Justin Kremer, Marquis Profit and Joel Phillip to round out the men's winners while the women saw Sarah Stevens win the hammer throw before the team of Jeavon Benjamin, Jordan Durham, Shauntel Elcock and Dominique' Maloy combined to take the 4x400m relay.

The Sun Devil men and women set victory records for the program at the Pac-10 Championships as both genders won the most titles in a single season in Arizona State history. The women collected seven total crowns (including Jacquelyn Johnson's heptathlon crown the week prior) while the men totaled six. The previous best for the women was five, which was recorded each of the past two meets while the men's previous best also was five, which was recorded in 2005.

With her sweep of the 100m and 200m dashes (11.45 and 23.09, respectively), Charonda Williams became the ninth woman in Pac-10 history to capture both events in the same meet. She also is the first Sun Devil to accomplish the feat.

Also for the ninth time in Pac-10 history, the shot put and discus champion for the women was the same as Jessica Pressley threw 18.79m and 55.93m, respectively, to win the double. It is the second time a Sun Devil has pulled of the feat as Sarah Stevens won both events last year at Stanford.

For only the ninth time since 1976 (when the 5,000m run replaced the 2-mile run), the same man won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m run in the same meet as Kyle Alcorn captured both for ASU. Alcorn won the steeplechase in 8:43.81 to give ASU the crown in that event for the fifth year in a row before coming back to take the 5,000m in 14:12.76.

While the previous three doubles are quite remarkable, the final double carries a little more history as Matt Turner's wins in the long jump (7.84m) and triple jump (15.63m) made him only the fifth athlete to win both events in the same year since 1960 (48 years). He is the second Sun Devil to win both in the same year as Dwight Phillips did so in 1999.

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 teams and Johnson were not the only champions 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.

The Sun Devils are schedule to compete in one event next as they prepare for the MPSF Championships that will be held in two weeks in Seattle. Next week, ASU is scheduled to compete in the aptly named NAU Tune-Up meet in Flagstaff as many of the teams invited will be preparing for their indoor conference championships.

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