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ASU Seeks Best Finish Ever At Pac-10 Championships
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 10/26/1999
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Oct. 26, 1999

TEMPE, Ariz. - The postseason begins Saturday, Oct. 30 as Arizona State cross country travels to El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach, Calif., for the 1999 Pac-10 Championships. The Sun Devils arguably bring their best teams ever to the meet, hosted by USC. Following the conference championships, ASU will go to Portland, Ore., for the NCAA West Regionals (Nov. 13) where the Sun Devils hope to advance to the NCAA Championships.

Saturday, Oct. 30 - Pac-10 Championships, Long Beach, Calif.
Men's Championship: 11:00 a.m. (PT), 8K, Women's Championship: Noon (PT), 5K

The Field: The Pac-10 is the premier cross country conference in the nation as the league has five women's teams and four men's teams ranked in the top 25. Stanford is the favorite on both the men's and women's side as the Cardinal women are ranked No. 1 in the nation and their men are ranked second. Stanford has swept the men's and women's conference championship in each of the last three years and the women have won five of the last six league titles. Also ranked on the women's side is No. 9 Washington, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 14 UCLA and No. 23 Oregon. The men's ranked teams include Stanford, No. 6 Arizona, No. 9 Arizona State and No. 12 Oregon.

Sun Devils Ranked: Arizona State'smen jumped 10 spots to No. 9 in the latest MONDO national rankings. The Sun Devils have been ranked in each poll this season, the first time they've ever been in the national rankings. Arizona State's women are ranked 11th in the latest FinishLynx national rankings. They have been ranked as high as third in 1999. ASU's women were ranked for the first time ever last year.

Last Time Out: The Arizona State men's squad, ranked 19th in the nation at the time, finished fifth and the then fourth-ranked women seventh at the regular season's premier meet, the Pre-National Invitational, held in Bloomington, Ind. ASU's men beat six squads ranked ahead of them while placing behind No. 2 Stanford, No.5 Colorado, No. 6 Arizona and No. 12 Georgetown, in that order. Sophomores Fasil Bizuneh and Isaiah Festa led the charge, finishing 10th and 11th with times of 24:26.41 and 24:28.23, respectively. ASU's women placed seventh, defeating eight ranked teams in the process. Top-ranked Stanford won the meet followed by No. 3 BYU, No. 7 Colorado, No. 16 North Carolina, No. 8 Kansas State and No. 6 Georgetown. Sophomore Kelly MacDonald paced the Sun Devils, finishing 12th overall in 17:40.54. ASU's Lisa Aguilera (finished 51st) and Mary Duerbeck (finished 112th) both ran while recovering from illness and injury, which slowed the two All-American candidates.

Pac-10 History: Arizona State's rise toward the top of the Pac-10 is definitely something new. The Sun Devils fourth-place finish in 1998 by both the men and women was the men's best ever and matched the 1987 fourth-place finish by the women. Prior to 1998, ASU's men had finished last for six straight seasons and the women were last for three consecutive years. Individually, Priscilla Hein's sixth-place finish last year is the best women's performance while Todd Lewis' third-place finish in 1991 is the men's ASU standard.

Breakthrough Meet: ASU's men and women have each had a ?breakthrough? meet during the 1999 regular season that vaulted them onto the national scene. ASU's women got off to a strong start and won their second consecutive meet to start the season, capturing the Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by Minnesota, which included eight ranked squads. Following that win, the women jumped from No. 16 to No. 3 in the nation. The men's statement came later in the season as the Sun Devils' fifth-place finish at the Pre-National Invitational in Bloomington, Ind., pushed ASU from No. 19 to No. 9 in the country.

Head Coach Walt Drenth: Walt Drenth, in his fourth year as Head Cross Country Coach at Arizona State University, has taken the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. ASU's appearance at the 1998 Women's NCAA Championships (finished 23rd) was the first in school history after the Sun Devil women matched their best-ever finish at the Pac-10 meet (4th) and recorded their best regional finish (sixth) since 1986. ASU's men, running with five freshmen and two sophomores, registered their best season of the decade in 1998 as the Sun Devils finished fourth at the Pac-10s (best men's finish ever) and eighth at regionals (best finish since 1986). 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 seven-time conference coach of the year and two-time District Coach of the Year and has led four squads to the NCAA Championships.

Incredible Progress: The last two seasons have seen Arizona State cross country take tremendous strides toward becoming a conference and national championship contender. Here are some of the many accomplishments ASU has achieved over the past two seasons:

Women

  • ASU made its first NCAA Championships appearance in 1998, finishing 23rd.

  • ASU was ranked for the first time in school history in 1998 and climbed as high as 3rd in the FinishLynx poll in 1999.

  • ASU improved from last in the Pac-10 to fourth in 1998, matching its highest finish ever.

  • ASU improved from 10th to sixth at the 1998 NCAA Regional Championships, its best finish since 1986.

  • All of ASU's seven runners at the 1998 Pac-10 Championships finished in the top 40. In 1997, only three did.

  • In 1997, ASU had one runner finish in the top 50 at NCAA Regionals. In 1998, four Sun Devils did.

  • In 1998, Priscilla Hein became the first All-American and All-Pac-10 performer in ASU history, notching the Sun Devils best individual finishes at both the Pac-10 Championships (6th) and NCAA Championships (39th).

  • Opened the 1999 season with two consecutive team victories at the UC Irvine Invitational and Roy Griak Invitational. The last time ASU's women won in back-to-back outings came in the 1993 season..

    Men

  • ASU improved from last in 1997 to fourth in the 1998 Pac-10 Championships, its best finish ever.

  • ASU improved from 11th to 8th at the 1998 NCAA West Regionals, its best finish since 1986.

  • ASU had three top-20 finishers (Juan Chavira, Isaiah Festa, Fasil Bizuneh) at the Pac-10 Championships in 1998 compared to none in 1997.

  • ASU had top-20 finishes from two runners (Chavira, Bizuneh) at the 1998 NCAA West Regionals , the first time since 1991 that ASU had any top-20 regional performances.

  • ASU's Fasil Bizuneh and Isaiah Festa were the top two American finishers at the 1999 World Jr. Championships.

  • ASU was ranked for the first time in school history, entering the MONDO rankings at No. 17 and climbing as high as ninth.

    Individual Championship History: Here's a look at where ASU's runners finished in Championship competition during their career:

    Name 'YearPac-10NCAAReg.Name 'YearPac-10NCAAReg.NCAAs
    Fasil Bizuneh '9840th60thLisa Aguilera '9829th42nd131st
    Ron Buchanan '9835th62ndKelly MacDonald '9815th20th134th
    David Burke '9848th54thKelly MacDonald '9739th53rdDNR
    David Burke '9753rd101stAmy Maciasek '9834th50th235th
    Juan Chavira '9814th18thAmy Maciasek '9751st103rdDNR
    Isaiah Festa '9815th35thKristin McFerron '9838th59th158th
    Brandon Strong '9842nd62ndNicole Simmons '9839th53rd227th
    Brandon Strong '9754th75thCody Sohn '9840th75th211th

  • Arizona State Sun Devils Cross Country
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