Jan. 27, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State men's and women's cross country teams held their annual awards dinner Jan. 13 with Walt Drenth, the head coach of the Sun Devil programs, honoring the accomplishments of the team for the 2002 season. In all, eight honors were bestowed among members of the team with seven of the awards given to first-year runners for the squad.
The team MVP award went to senior Fasil Bizuneh (Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis HS) for the men and freshman Jessica Scalzo (Snoqualmie, Wash./Mt. Si HS) on the women's side. Bizuneh, a two-time All-American and the first male harrier in ASU history to attain national acclaim twice, led the Sun Devils throughout the season. He finished his career with his third appearance in the NCAA Championships, placing 55th in the national race, and was named second-team all-Pac-10 as well as all-region. Scalzo, after taking a year off last following her high school career, was the top finisher for the women in every race she ran but one. She finished in the Top 10 in four of the six races she ran and earned first-team all-Pac-10 and all-region honors.
For a squad filled with talented newcomers, Drenth had to sort through the rookies and choose one male and one female recipient of the Newcomer of the Year award. In the end, freshman Aaron Aguayo (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Point HS) and Scalzo brought home the honors. Aguayo opened the year with a fifth-place finish at the Notre Dame/adidas Invitational to lead the men. He also placed in the Top 3 on the team in four of the races he ran. The duo of Aguayo and Scalzo also were honored with the Coaches' Award.
The Most Improved award went to redshirt freshman Derek Pisel (Glendale, Ariz./Mountain Ridge HS) and true freshman Anna Masinelli (Scottsdale, Ariz./Xavier College Prep HS). Pisel, after taking a redshirt season last year, came back to run in three races and figuring into the team scoring twice. At the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota, Pisel finished 92nd overall and fourth on the team as the Sun Devils placed ninth out of 27 entrants. Masinelli started the season late for ASU, running in the Griak where she finished eighth. After not participating in the next two races, she broke out and placed sixth on the team in the next two races, the NCAA Pre-Nationals and the Pac-10 Championships. Her best race of the year was at the NCAA West Region meet where she earned all-region with her 13th-place finish, third-best on the team. She also was fourth on the squad at the NCAA Championships.
Many of the cross country student-athletes participate for the track and field teams at ASU, which began its indoor season Jan. 18. Next up for the Sun Devil tracksters will be the Boise State Invitational and the Husky Invitational at Boise, Idaho, and Seattle, Wash., respectively, this Saturday (Feb. 1).