Sept. 30, 2008
by Erika Simington
TEMPE, Ariz. – Heart. Dedication. Perseverance. Every morning when the cross country team awakens to another day of practice, they are one step closer to the ‘big dance’ – the National Championships.
For the 74th consecutive week, the women’s cross country team has appeared in the Top 30 national rankings and, the week of Sept. 15, they jumped into the number five spot. The U.S. Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) also recognized the men’s and women’s teams in the West Region. The women earned a fourth place ranking and the men were ranked seventh in one of the strongest regions this year. The women’s team also has the sixth-longest active streak for NCAA appearances in the country in the last 10 years.
Four of the top five nationally ranked women’s teams hail from the Pac-10 conference – No. 1 Oregon, No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Arizona State. What does this mean for the Sun Devils? Training hard and staying healthy are some of the team’s man objectives, Coach Louie Quintana, the men and women’s cross country head coach, said. “We have great depth and a great balance of experience on the women’s side,” said Quintana.
The men’s side may have a different experience. According to Quintana, the coaching staff decided to redshirt the team’s top two runners while others will join the team later in the season. “We are not biting the bullet by any means,” said Quintana. “The top four runners are out at the beginning of the season which will give others an opportunity to step up.”
Quintana is very optimistic about both teams making post-season. Though there are some key players missing from the men’s side, there are other individuals who clearly have an opportunity, said Quintana. “The women’s team is looking forward to getting on the podium for another year.”
The Sun Devils welcome 11 freshmen and five transfers for the 2008 season. We nearly doubled our roster which provides the team and coaching staff with challenges, said Quintana. “The freshmen women are phenomenal and we have a strong pack of 12 women.”
On the men’s side, Noah Shannon and Brandon Bethke were a great addition to the team, but will not be joining the Sun Devils this season. “We are taking a big hit without Shannon and Bethke,” said Quintana.
When asked about what the team needs to do in order to keep the impressive streak of appearances in the national rankings, Coach Quintana said that his team does not really think about their rankings, but he is very confident that they will move up.
So now you might ask what kind of dedication does it take to be part of the successful Sun Devil Cross Country team? Set your alarm clock for the crack of dawn for 5:40 practice and be prepared to stay at the track until 8:30 in the morning. The team participates in drills, they run, return to do some more drills and hurdle activities all in a three-hour time period. Do not forget to add the weight room into that hectic mix as you are building a dedicated, championship team.
The Sun Devils will return to action this weekend as they play host to the 23rd Joe Uff/ASU Invitational at Kiwanis Park in Tempe on Friday afternoon. The men’s 8,000m run begins at 5 p.m. with the women’s 5,000m run starting at 5:30 p.m.