Oct. 24, 2000
Saturday, Oct. 28 -- Pac-10 Championships, Seattle, Wash.
Women: 11:00 a.m. (MT), 6K, Men: 12:15 p.m. (MT), 8K
This Week: Conference championship titles will be on the line when the Sun Devil cross country squads head to the Pac-10 Championships hosted by the University of Washington, Saturday, Oct. 28 at Lincoln Park in Seattle. The event will kick-off with the women's 6,000-meter race at 11:00 a.m., followed by the men's 8,000-meter race at 12:15 p.m. After finishing second a year ago and posting their best Pac-10 performance, the fourth-ranked ASU women are in serious contention for their first Pac-10 crown. The ASU men are also coming off their best conference finish in school history last year, placing fourth in 1999.
The Field: Fierce competition will emerge in the women's race, as four Pac-10 teams are ranked in the Top-10 in the latest FinishLynx Top-25 poll, including second-ranked and defending conference champion Stanford, No. 4 ASU, host school No. 6 Washington and No. 8 Arizona. The Stanford women's squad has won four consecutive Pac-10 titles. On the men's side, three teams are ranked in the MONDO Top-25 with No. 3 Stanford, No. 10 Arizona and No. 13 Oregon. The Wildcats are the men's defending Pac-10 Champions.
Sun Devils In the Polls: In the latest FinishLynx Top-25 poll released Oct. 16, the ASU women leaped from 14th to fourth, the second highest ranking in school history. For the first time this season, the Sun Devil men dropped from the MONDO Top-25, released last Monday.
Last Time Out: ASU hosted a non-scoring meet at Freestone Park in Gilbert, Friday, Oct. 20 in which the Sun Devil "B" teams both made strong showings. Junior Phillip Prince won the men's 6,000-meter race in 19:33.4, while seniors Charles Sharpe (20:04.) and Chad Barrett (20:13.7) placed fourth and fifth respectively. On the women's side, sophomore Candi Criscione was the top ASU finisher taking sixth place (15:54.5) in the 4,000-meter race.
Pac-10 History: 1999 saw the ASU harriers post their best Pac-10 finishes in school history and if recent success is any indication, the Sun Devils are set to continue their rise towards being a perennial conference contender. Last year the women finished second and shattered the previous school-best point total of 121 in 1986 with 62. Lisa Aguilera posted the best ASU women's individual finish in the Sun Devil record books with a fourth place finish. The men matched their school-best team finish of 4th from 1998, and shattered their record point total of 108 in 1986 with 84 in 1999. Last year, Fasil Bizuneh notched a fourth-place finish, second all-time to only Todd Lewis' third-place finish in 1991. But the Sun Devil's recent rise toward the upper echelon of the Pac-10 is definitely new. Prior to 1998, ASU's men finished last for six straight seasons and the women finished last three consecutive times. 1986 had marked the only year the men had finished as high as fifth, while the highest women's team finishes were back-to-back seasons in 1986 (5th) and 1987 (4th).
Note: ASU began competing at the Pac-10 Championships in 1984, although the Sun Devils joined the conference in 1978. The Pac-10 Women's Cross Country Championships began in 1986.
Next Year: ASU will host the 2001 Pac-10 Cross Country Championships.
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 latest 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.
Up Next: Post-season action continues with the NCAA Regionals at Fresno State Saturday, Nov. 11 followed by the NCAA Championships at Iowa State, Monday, Nov. 20.