Sept. 25, 2001
This Week --
Arizona State cross country returns to action this weekend, as the Sun Devils send split squads to the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota and the Canyon West Invitational in Tempe, Saturday, Sept. 29. ASU's "A" teams will travel to one of the nation's most competitive meets, the 16th Annual Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota at the Les Bolstad Cross Country Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The men's 8,000 meter Gold race will be held at 11 a.m. (CT), followed by the women's 6,000 meter Gold race at noon (CT). Competition at the Roy Griak Invitational features 15 men's teams and 17 women's teams that ran at last year's national championships, as well as 13 men's teams and 11 women's teams ranked in this week's Top 25 national polls. The remainder of the ASU squad will compete at the Canyon West Classic hosted by Mesa Community College at Kiwanis Park in Tempe at 7:15 a.m.
Sun Devils in the Polls --
After opening the year ranked 10th in the preseason FinishLynx Women's Cross Country Poll, ASU's female harriers dropped to 11th in the first poll of the regular season, released Monday, Sept. 24. The ASU men also dropped a spot from their preseason rank, checking in at No. 22 in the first regular season MONDO Men's Cross Country Poll released this week.
Last Year at the Roy Griak Invitational --
After winning the Roy Griak crown in 1999, ASU's women placed third in 2000. Lisa Aguilera led the Sun Devils with her second-straight runner-up finish at the meet and was backed by Brianna Torres (12th), Mary Duerbeck (19th) and Colleen Burke (35th). Host Minnesota won the women's title and Arizona's Tara Chaplin won the individual crown. On the men's side, ASU placed sixth last season, bolstered by Garrett Jensen's fifth-place finish. Rounding out the Sun Devil top three were Juan Reyes (36th) and Kris Alexander (48th). Providence won the men's title, led by its first-place finisher and national champion Keith Kelly.
Last Year at the Canyon West Classic --
Both Arizona State "B" teams took second at last year's Canyon West Classic hosted by Mesa Community College. Notching top-10 finishes for the women were Candi Criscione (7th) and Jen Hurbis (9th). The men were led by David Burke (6th) and Phillip Prince (11th).
Last Time Out --
The Sun Devils opened the 2001 season at the UC Irvine-Asics Invitational Saturday, Sept. 8, at Central Park in Hungtington Beach, Calif. Both teams captured second-place finishes and featured promising individual performances. The men were led by sophomore Juan Reyes, who won the 8,000m race in 25:22.6. Last year as a freshman, Reyes was also ASU's highest finisher at the UC Irvine Invitational, placing ninth. Also placing in the top 10 were freshman J.J. Duke (6th) and senior J.R. Cox (10th). On the women's side, junior Cody Sohn and freshman Amanda Lyon were ASU's top finishers, placing fourth and fifth respectively.
Returning All-Americans --
In ASU cross country history, six individuals have earned All-America honors, three women and three men. The 2001 squad features half of that contingent in Lisa Aguilera and Kelly MacDonald from the women's side, and Fasil Bizuneh on the men's side. Lisa Aguilera, Senior - 2000 All-American (5th place), 2000 First-Team Verizon Academic All-American, 2000 Women's Cross Country Pac-10 and West Region Athlete of the Year, ASU Female Student Athlete of the Year (2000-01), two-time First-Team All-Pac-10 (1999-00). Fasil Bizuneh, Junior - 1999 All-American (19th place), First-Team All-Pac-10 (1999). Kelly MacDonald, Senior - 1999 All-American (36th place), First-Team All-Pac-10 (1999), ASU's Heather Farr Award Winner (2000-01).
Academic Success --
Sun Devil teams have excelled not only on the cross country course, but in the classroom as well. Last season, for the fourth straight time, ASU's women were named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association. Also, both teams were honored for having the highest team GPA among large men's and women's sports at ASU (2000-01). For good measure, 33 athletes were named ASU Maroon and Gold Scholars. Earning Verizon Academic All-America (Fall/Winter At-Large) honors in 2000 were Lisa Aguilera and Garrett Jensen. Aguilera was named to the women's first-team, while Jensen was named to the men's second-team. Aguilera and Jensen also earned first-team Verizon Academic All-District honors, as did Mary Duerbeck.
Head Coach Walt Drenth --
In his sixth year at the helm of the Arizona State cross country program, Walt Drenth continues to take the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. Last year Drenth was named the USTCA West Region Women's Coach of the Year and for the second-straight season earned Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year honors. Drenth has guided ASU to school record conference, regional and national finishes (including the teams' first four NCAA team appearances), while producing three All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans. Drenth came to Tempe after spending the previous six years (1990-95) at the College of William & Mary and six years at Central Michigan (1985-90). He is a nine-time conference coach of the year and four-time district coach of the year, and has led nine squads to the NCAA Championships. Included in Drenth's ASU coaching staff are graduate assistant Corey Ihmels and volunteer assistant Michelle Borgert.
2000 Season Summary --
ASU's women's team enjoyed the best season in school history, placing sixth at nationals (266 points) and second at both regionals and the Pac-10 Championships. Lisa Aguilera became the third woman in ASU history to earn All-America honors with a fifth-place school-record finish at the NCAA Championships. Aguilera won the women's individual title at regionals and was also the Pac-10 runner-up, both school record finishes. For her efforts, Aguilera was named the Pac-10 and USTCA West Region Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Also honored was head coach Walt Drenth, named the Pac-10 and USTCA West Region Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year. On the men's side, ASU finished the 2000 season ranked 24th nationally, but failed to receive an at-large bid to nationals. The men finished fourth at the Pac-10 meet and fifth at regionals. Earning Academic All-America honors for the Sun Devils were Aguilera (first-team) and Garrett Jensen (second-team). And for the fourth straight year, ASU's women's squad was named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association.
ASU Hosts 2001 Pac-10 Championships --
Arizona State will host this year's Pac-10 Cross Country Championships, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001, at the Pavilion Lakes Golf Course in Scottsdale, Ariz. The men's 8,000m race is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., while the women's 6,000m race will follow at 11 a.m. The meet was originally scheduled to be held at ASU's home course, Freestone Park in Gilbert, Ariz. The ASU Invitational, Oct. 5, will still be held at Freestone Park.
Runnin' Devil Style --
Redshirt freshman Kelly Burke chronicles her experiences on the Sun Devil cross country team with a column on ASU's website, www.thesundevils.com. Burke's columns run on both the cross country and track and field sites.
Up Next --
The Sun Devils will host the ASU Invitational at Freestone Park in Gilbert, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 5. An open race for both men and women will be held at 4 p.m., followed by the women's 5,000m race at 4:45 p.m. and the men's 8,000m race at 5:15 p.m.