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No. 5 Women's Cross Country Vies For First National Crown
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 11/14/2000
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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Nov. 14, 2000

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Monday Nov. 20 -- NCAA Championships, Ames, Iowa
Women's Championship: 10 a.m. (MT), 6K

This Week: After securing an automatic bid with a second-place finish at the NCAA West Regionals at Fresno State Saturday, the fifth-ranked Arizona State women's cross country squad will make its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships, Monday, Nov. 20. The Sun Devils will challenge for their first national title on the Iowa State Cross Country Course in Ames, Iowa, with the women's 6,000-meter race scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. MST (11 a.m. CST). The men's 10,000-meter race will follow at 11:15 a.m. MST (12:15 p.m. CST), without the presence of the ASU men. After finishing fifth in the NCAA West Regional, the Sun Devil men were not granted an at-large bid Monday.

The Field: The Sun Devils will be performing on the highest collegiate stage, competing against 18 teams which qualified automatically by finishing in the top two places in each regional, and 13 teams chosen as at-large selections. The list includes automatic qualifiers No. 1 Colorado, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Brigham Young, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 6 Boston College, No. 7 Kansas State, No. 8 Georgetown, No. 9 Yale, No. 11 Michigan, No. 12 North Carolina State, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 16 Texas A & M, No. 18 North Carolina, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 21 West Virginia, Georgia Tech, and South Florida. At-large selections included No. 10 Arizona, No. 14 Colorado State, No. 15 Brown, No. 17 Weber State, No. 19 Providence, No. 22 Oregon, No. 24 Villanova, No. 25 Washington, Duke, Marquette, Missouri and Wake Forest.

Sun Devils In the Polls: After being ranked No. 4 in the last two polls, the ASU women dropped to No. 5 in this week's final FinishLynx Women's Cross Country Poll, despite turning in school-record breaking performances at the NCAA West Regionals last weekend. Colorado leaped from No. 5 last week to No. 1 this week after defeating then-No.1 BYU in the NCAA Mountain Regional.

NCAA Championship History: As a team, the ASU women are making their third consecutive NCAA Championship appearance, receiving their first automatic bid in school history. In 1998 and 1999, the Sun Devils earned at-large selections to nationals after placing sixth and third in regional competition in those years, respectively. Last year, the ASU women placed 12th at the NCAA Championships in Bloomington, Ind., improving 11 spots from a 23rd-place finish in their first team appearance in 1998. Last year, junior Kelly MacDonald became the second ASU woman in school history to earn All-American honors, finishing a school-record 36th. Prior to MacDonald's performance, Priscilla Hein's 39th-place finish in 1998 was the highest mark by an ASU woman at nationals and prior to 1998, only four Sun Devil women had raced as individuals at the NCAA Championships. Hein is ASU's other female cross country All-American. On the men's side, ASU earned its first-ever team berth last year and finished 14th, with sophomore Fasil Bizuneh becoming the third male to earn All-American honors in school history by placing 19th at nationals.

NCAA Experience: Five of ASU's starting seven bring prior NCAA Championship experience with them to Iowa State. Lisa Aguilera is the most experienced Sun Devil, having raced in both 1998 and 1999, finishing 131st and 50th respectively. Colleen Burke (80th), Mary Duerbeck (183rd), and Brianna Torres (174th) all competed last year, leading the ASU women to a 12th-place national finish. Kristin McFerron ran for the Sun Devils in 1998, placing 158th.

NCAA West Regional Review: Junior Lisa Aguilera took first-place and senior Mary Duerbeck finished third, leading the fourth-ranked Arizona State women's cross country team to a second-place finish at the NCAA West Regionals at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif., thus securing an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. The ASU men placed fifth overall, and failed to receive an at-large bid to nationals to continue their season. The Sun Devil women made school history, as Aguilera became the first ASU woman to win an individual title in a championship meet. Aguilera accomplished the feat just two weeks after racing to a second-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships, which was also a best-ever ASU finish. In addition to Aguilera, Duerbeck's third-place finish eclipsed the previous high for a regional meet attained by Kelly MacDonald last year (4th). With a second-place team finish, the ASU women also broke their previous best regional team finish, after taking third-place last year in Portland, Ore. The best regional finish for the men was third, also attained last year. Aguilera and Duerbeck were not the only stars for the Sun Devils, as ASU got strong finishes on the 6,000-meter course from junior Brianna Torres (18th), redshirt freshman Cynthia Atencio (35th), redshirt freshman Beth Martin (36th), junior Kristin McFerron (41st) and senior Colleen Burke (48th). The ASU men were led by freshman Juan Reyes who completed the 10,000-meter course in 31:17, and for the second time this season was the highest male finisher for the Sun Devils with a 17th-place finish. Sophomore Kris Alexander and senior Garrett Jensen were not far behind Reyes, placing 19th and 21st, respectively. Earning All-Region honors were Aguilera, Duerbeck, Torres, Alexander, Jensen and Reyes.

Pac-10 Championship Review: Both the ASU men and women matched their best team conference finishes at the Pac-10 Championships in Seattle Oct. 28. The fourth-ranked women placed second for the second consecutive year, while the men finished fourth for the third straight year. Junior Lisa Aguilera led the way for the Sun Devils with a second-place individual finish, running the 6,000-meter course in 20:19.95. Her runner-up performance was the best Pac-10 finish ever for an ASU woman. Arizona's Tara Chaplin captured the conference title (20:10.67), while Stanford took the women's team title. All the ASU women improved upon their times from the NCAA Pre-National Meet, including a two-minute difference for senior Mary Duerbeck who posted the best Pac-10 finish (seventh) of her career. Also finishing strong for the Sun Devils was junior Brianna Torres with a 15th-place finish (21:19.0). The ASU men were once again led by senior Garrett Jensen who placed 15th, completing the men's 8,000-meter course in 24:15.32. Close behind Jensen was freshman Juan Reyes, with a 16th place finish in 24:17.0. Stanford completed the team sweep, taking the men's title as well as the individual title as Jonathan Riley won the race in 23:39.59. Next year, ASU plays host to the 2001 Pac-10 Cross Country Championships at Freestone Park in Gilbert, Ariz.

Women Breakout at Pre-National Meet: The ASU women established themselves as a possible NCAA title contender, placing fourth at the Pre-National Invitational at Iowa State Oct. 14 and putting together one of the best team finishes in a major national meet under coach Walt Drenth. Consequently, the Sun Devils leaped from No. 14 to No. 4 in the next FinishLynx poll, the second-highest ranking for the women in school history. Junior Lisa Aguilera led the way for ASU with a 5th-place individual finish among over 350 runners. Aguilera has established herself as one of the top runners in the nation, also finishing second this year at the Roy Griak Invitational. Redshirt-freshman Cynthia Atencio was the second-highest ASU finisher, placing 47th in just her second scoring meet as a Sun Devil. Senior Mary Duerbeck showed her continued consistency with a 52nd-place finish, while junior Brianna Torres and senior Colleen Burke posted 73rd and 78th finishes respectively.

Head Coach Walt Drenth: Walt Drenth, in his fifth year as Head Cross Country Coach at Arizona State University, has taken the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. He was named the Pac-10's Women's Coach of the Year in 1999, after leading the Sun Devils to their best finish in school history. Under his tenure, ASU has posted the best Pac-10 finishes in school history (Women 2nd in 1999, Men 4th in `98 and `99) and the best regional finishes in school history (both finished 3rd last year). In addition, the men made their first appearance in school history at the NCAA Championships in 1999 and finished 14th, while the women earned back-to-back berths to nationals, including a 12th-place finish in 1999. 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 six squads to the NCAA Championships.

Arizona State Women's NCAA Championship History
Team Appearances (3)

2000 - Nov. 20
1999 - 12th (385 pts)
1998 - t-23rd (534 pts.)

Top 5 Individual Finishes
Kelly MacDonald, 36th, 1999
Priscilla Hein, 39th, 1998
Sabrina Peters, 44th, 1980
Sabrina Peters, 45, 1982
Lisa Aguilera, 50th, 1999

All-Americans
Priscilla Hein, 1998
Kelly MacDonald, 1999

Individual Appearances (19 by 14)
Lisa Aguilera, 1998, 1999
Teresa Barrio, 1988
Colleen Burke, 1999
Mary Duerbeck, 1999
Priscilla Hein, 1998
Laura LaMena, 1987
Amy Maciasek, 1998, 1999
Kelly MacDonald, 1998, 1999
Kristin McFerron, 1998
Lynn Nelson, 1983
Sabrina Peters, 1982, 1980
Nicole Simmons, 1998
Cody Sohn, 1998, 1999
Brianna Torres, 1999

2000 Sun Devil Bios
Lisa Aguilera * Junior * Peoria, Ariz. * Centennial HS --
ASU's leading runner all season, has established herself as one of the elite runners in the nation...Has yet to finish lower than fifth in a race in 2000...Making her third NCAA Championship appearance, looking to build upon a 50th-place finish from last season...Became the first-ever ASU women to capture an individual title in a championship meet with a first-place finish (20:25) at the NCAA West Regionals at Fresno State Nov. 11...her first-place regional finish also eclipsed the previous Sun Devil meet record for individual finish at regionals, set by Kelly MacDonald last year (fourth place in 1999)...Placed second at the Pac-10 Championships, the best conference finish ever for an ASU women...Ran a season-best 20:19.95 on the 6,000-meter course at the conference championships...Also placed second in the Roy Griak Invitational Sept. 23 (21:08) and fifth in the NCAA Pre-National Invitational Oct. 14 (21:05.9).
Season Best: 6,000-meters - 20:19.95 (Pac-10 Championships, Oct. 28)

Cynthia Atencio * Redshirt Freshman * Richland, Wash. * Richland HS --
Making her first NCAA Championship appearance...Broke into ASU's starting seven at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational, notching the second-highest ASU finish (47th, 22:06.8) in only her second scoring meet as a Sun Devil...Ran a season-best 21:30.7 on a 6,000-meter course at the Pac-10 Championships, finishing 22nd...Was the fourth-highest Sun Devil finisher at the NCAA Regionals, placing 35th overall (21:31).
Season Best: 6,000-meters - 21:30.7 (Pac-10 Championships, Oct. 28)

Colleen Burke * Senior * Phoenix, Ariz. * Shadow Mountain HS --
A solid member of ASU's starting seven all season...Making her second NCAA Championship appearance , last year placed 80th...Earned a season-best seventh-place finish (19:00.3, 5,000-meters) at the UC Irvine Invitational Sept. 9...Much like teammates Aguilera and Atencio, recorded her best time on the 6,000-meter course at the Pac-10 Championships (21:27.2, 21st-place)...Placed 36th at the Roy Griak Invitational (22:03), 78th at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational (22:23.1) and 48th at the NCAA West Regionals (21:57).
Season Best: 6,000-meters - 21:27.2 (Pac-10 Championships, Oct. 28)

Mary Duerbeck * Senior * Chamois, Mo. * Osage HS --
One of two seniors on the squad...Has provided tremendous leadership...Making second NCAA appearance, last year placed 183rd...Notched third-place finish (20:36) at West Regionals, surpassing the previous record finish (fourth) of Kelly MacDonald last year...Third-place finish was her best career finish since winning the ASU Invitational Oct. 17, 1997...Time of 20:36 at regionals was her season-best on the 6,000-meter course, improving her time 12 seconds from the Pac-10 Championships and nearly two minutes from the NCAA Pre-National Invitational...ASU's second-highest finisher behind Aguilera at regionals and conference championships...Placed seventh at the Pac-10 Championships (20:47.7), 19th at the Roy Griak Invitational Sept. 23 (21:44) and 52nd at the NCAA Pre-National Meet (22:07.7).
Season Best: 6,000-meters - 20:36 (West Regionals, Nov. 11)

Beth Martin * Redshirt Freshman * Tucson, Ariz * Catalina Foothills HS --
Making first NCAA appearance...Placed a career-high 25th (19:42.4, 5,000-meters) at the UC Irvine Invitational Sept. 9...Since NCAA Pre-National, has made steady improvements on her time...Ran a season-best 21:33 on the 6,000-meter course at regionals, improving her time from conference championships (22:01.7) by just under a minute and improving her time from the NCAA Pre-National (23:15.1) by almost two minutes...Placed 36th at regionals, 30th at Pac-10 Championships, 174th at Pre-National and 71st at Roy Griak (22:31).
Season Best: 6,000-meters - 21:33 (West Regionals, Nov. 11)

Kristin McFerron * Junior * St. Charles, Mo. * St. Charles HS --
Making second NCAA appearance, placed 158th in 1998...Has also steadily decreased her 6,000-meter times over the last three meets...Finished regionals in 41st-place in a time of 21:38, improving her mark at Pac-10s from 22:03 and at the NCAA Pre-National from 22:45...Placed 32nd at conference championships, 119th at Pre-National, 82nd at the Roy Griak (22:38) and 34th at the UC Irvine Invitational (19:58, 5,000-meters). Season Best: 6,000-meters - 21:38 (West Regionals, Nov. 11)

Brianna Torres * Junior * Peoria, Ariz. * Centennial HS --
Has finished among ASU's top-four in every meet she has raced this season...Making second NCAA appearance, finished 174th last year...Captured first career meet title at the UC Irvine Invitational Sept. 9 (18:30, 5K)...Since 73rd-place finish at the Pre-National Meet (22:22) has steadily improved 6K time down to 21:04, achieved at regionals...ASU's second-highest finisher at Roy Griak (12th, 21:33) and third highest finisher at Pac-10s (15th, 21:19) and regionals (18th).
Season Best: 6,000-meters - 21:04 (West Regionals, Nov. 11)

Arizona State Sun Devils Cross Country
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