Oct. 15, 2002
On The Starting Line
Arizona State moves into the second half of its season with a trip to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Pre-National Meet Saturday. The race, hosted by Indiana State on the course that will be run at the end of November to determine the national champions for 2002, features 91 men's and 98 women's teams competing in the national event. All the top-ranked teams in the nation will be on hand to compete.
In the latest national polls, the women increased their stay in the Top 10 to two weeks, this week coming in at No. 8, two spots down from last week. The men improve one place to No. 22 after spending the last week at No. 23. Both squads have held national rankings the entire 2002 season.
About the NCAA Pre-National Meet
The NCAA Pre-National Meet features the top teams in the collegiate ranks as each school prepares for conference and regional tournaments in hopes of returning to Terre Haute, Ind., Nov. 25 for the NCAA Championships. Six races, run on the LaVern Gibson Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center, will be run beginning with the women's 6,000m runs at 11 a.m. (Blue) and 11:35 a.m. (White). The men's 8,000m race gets underway at 12:10 p.m. (Blue) and 12:50 p.m. (White) with one women's and one men's open race starting at 1:30 p.m. and 2:05 p.m., respectively. The teams will be assigned to either the Blue or the White race on Wednesday.
Looking Back: The 2001 NCAA Pre-National Meet
In the 2001 edition of the pre-national meet, each of the Sun Devil teams placed in the Top 10 of the team standings. The women led the way with a third-place finish (of 34 teams) as Lisa Aguilera finished the circuit with a time of 21:05 to earn third-place overall in the Purple race at Furman. The men, on the strength of Fasil Bizuneh's fifth-place time of 24:25, finished ninth as a team among the 36 competing in the Gold race.
Cream of the Crop
Of the 98 women's teams set to compete this weekend, 24 of the Top 30 ranked teams in the nation will be on hand, as well as seven other schools that received votes in the latest national polls. On the men's side, 20 of the Top 30 teams in the nation will be on hand to compete as well as eight of the 11 squads receiving votes.
Last Time Out
The Sun Devils ran as a 'B' team at the ASU Invitational (Kiwanis Park, Tempe) with the women taking second place (75 points) behind a dominant BYU 'B' team that recorded the bare minimum 15 points in the race. Lisa Pohlit led the charge, finishing 14th in the race while earning 11 points for the team. Megan Laib (16th/13 points), Jenna Wrieden (19th/16), Cody Sohn (20th/17) and Penny Jacobson (21st/18) rounded out the scoring for the Sun Devil women.
For the me, the 'B' teams from No. 1 Stanford and Arizona surpassed the effort of ASU, placing the Sun Devils in third place, also with 75 points. Patrick Keller (24:55) crossed the finish in 11th place, earning seven points for the team. Following Keller were Roger Cahill (24th/14 points), in his first race of the year, Griffin Lee (26th/17), Mike Peditto (28th/18) and Anthony Santa Cruz (33rd/20). Jeremy Cramer (32nd) actually fared better than Santa Cruz, but his points did not count as he ran unattached in the meet.
Newcomers to the cross country program have already made their respective marks with the Sun Devils as the middle of the season approaches. Jessica Scalzo recorded her second fourth-place finish of the year at the Griak Invitational while fellow freshmen Amy Hastings and Liz Lindgren rounded out the top-three ASU placers in Minneapolis, Minn., with 18th and 19th-place finishes, respectively. In all, four of the five point winners for the Sun Devils in both races were freshmen.
On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo continues to pay dividends for the Sun Devils. After leading the team with a fifth-place finish at the Notre Dame/adidas Invitational, Aguayo finished third on the team and 59th overall at the Griak. Derek Pisel and Ryan Warrenburg, 92nd and 93rd, respectively at the Griak, also have helped pace the ASU team in their first years in Tempe.
Fasil Bizuneh became the first male ASU cross country runner to earn All-America status twice in a career last season with a 22nd-place finish at the NCAA meet. An All-American in 1999 after finishing 19th at the meet, Bizuneh also was named to the All-Pac-10 first team in 1999 and 2001, while also garnering Academic All-Pac-10 accolades in 2001. He joins Lisa Aguilera (1998-01) as the program's only two-time honorees.
The Sun Devil teams have excelled not only on the cross country course, but in the classroom as well. Last season, for the fifth year in a row (1997-2001), ASU's women were named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association. Also, the women held the highest grade point average among women's sports at ASU for the second-consecutive year. For good measure, 38 athletes were named ASU Maroon and Gold Scholars. Earning Verizon Academic All-America honors in 2001 was Lisa Aguilera. Aguilera was named to the women's second-team, after joining Kelly MacDonald as a Verizon Academic All-District first-team selection.
Getting Warmed Up For...
The Sun Devils are two weeks away from their final tune-up prior to qualifying for nationals. ASU will travel to Pasadena, Calif., and UCLA for the 2002 Pac-10 Championships. Last year, the men finished a program-high second and the women took third at conference meet played host to by ASU in Scottsdale.