Aug. 28, 2012
By Chenea Schacher
TEMPE – As school comes back into session this Fall semester, Arizona State University’s women’s cross country season is getting back underway. With the Sun Devils returning 10 runners and adding seven strong newcomers, the team is looking to improve on last year’s NCAA Championship showing.
Four of the Sun Devils returning to the roster had an NCAA appearance last year. Sophomores Shelby Houlihan and Macy Bricks along with red-shirt seniors Natasa Vulic and Hailey Hanna will look to take the newcomers back to the championship this season.
“We are pretty fortunate right now that all of the girls are back on the team, healthy and excited to get into the season,” head coach Ryan Cole said. “We just need to manage their emotions, time and energy so that they stay healthy and excited as we move through out the season. I think we are going to have a pretty good fall.”
With such a young team, Cole says he is looking to find leadership in the team’s top returners to provide the work ethic and attitude to help others step and make the team a better one as a unit.
“We are a young team so there are always some surprises that way. We have some people joining the program that are coming right out of high school,” Cole said. “We expect Vulic, Hanna, Houlihan and Macy to set the tone for our team and the other girls will contribute as well.”
Here’s a look at your upcoming Sun Devil Women’s cross country season:
Though the majority of the team may be underclassmen, Sun Devil seniors Natasa Vulic and Hailey Hanna will play a key role in the development of the rest of the team as well as putting points on the board.
“They are experienced athletes, but more so that they are two local girls that have really done everything in our program that we would like to see everyone do,” Cole said of the two. “They have committed to the process. They have made it through some bumps in the road. We are really fortunate to have those two showing all of the talented young girls in our program what it would take to be successful.”
In the 2011 season Hanna advanced to the NCAA West Preliminaries in the 10,000 meter run and also placed 10th in the same event at the Pac-12 Championships, clocking a personal best time of 35:23:85.
Vulic was a member of ASU’s seven-women roster at the NCAA Championships in 2011 and has consistently been a point-scorer for the Sun Devils throughout her career as a Sun Devil.
The lone junior on the team, Karlee Owens has her own message to pass on to the younger runners.
“Karlee is somebody who has had a lot of adversity in her career and she’s done a very nice job of sticking with an optimistic attitude, which is what you have to have,” Cole said. “She’s another strong veteran that has endured and sets a good example to the young girls who are inevitably going to have some ups and downs in their careers and need to see examples of how to work through that.”
“It’s a talented group,” Cole said of the sophomore class. “We felt very strongly about our recruiting class last year.”
Leading the group of eight sophomores, and the team for that matter, are Shelby Houlihan and Macy Bricks. Houlihan and Bricks paced the team throughout the year despite just being freshmen. Both Houlihan and Bricks competed in the NCAA West Regionals where Houlihan was the top finisher for the Sun Devils placing 12th overall. Bricks was the second-fasted finisher for the Sun Devils at the Pac-12 Conference Championships clocking a time of 20:49.00 while Houlihan finished first for the Sun Devils and eighth overall with a time of 20:15.00.
Houlihan would go on to be the Pac-12 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year, duplicating the award for the track and field season to become the first student-athlete in conference history to sweep the awards for both seasons.
“They are very dedicated and tough runners,” Cole said. “We are going to need Macy and Shelby to lead us in competition. They are clearly our performance leaders as far as owning up and racing the races.”
Another newcomer joins the class in Dalanne Bartlette. Coming out of Shasta Community College, Bartlette is a 2012 800 meter All-American with a shining outlook. In her first ever 800m race, Bartlette clocked an impressive 2:12.00.
“Dalanne is a very athletic student-athlete. We are very excited to have her come over. Even in her first few work outs she has shown glimpses that there is something special there,” said Cole.
With a history more filled with sprint work, Cole says Bartlette may show more this winter and spring during track season after she has time to develop her distance strategy.
“One thing I know is that whether it is cross country, indoor or outdoor track or some random 5K road race in the middle of July is this: when Dalanne runs, she’s going to give everything she has and, in our sport, that goes a long way.”
In regards to the rest of the sophomore class, Cole says he’s optimistic and excited about their improvements.
“A couple of them have gone through a transitional period as freshmen and they will be expected to contribute this year,” Cole said. “Payton Schutte and Shaina Corbin have done a good job this summer. They started to figure some things out last year and were able to adjust their lifestyles so that they could stay healthy and avoid injuries.”
Filling out the 2012 Sun Devil women’s cross country roster are five incoming freshmen. Arizona locals Tory Haberman and Marcella Cartledge and out-of-staters Kaitlin Kaluzny, Adriana Olivas and Alexia Velarde seem to be a very stereotypical Arizona State class; unyielding and competitive with bright futures.
“In our first few practices, there have been some people that are able to compete like we thought they could,” Cole said. “Kaluzny, Haberman and Velarde have been very solid early on.
Kaluzny comes to ASU from Yakima, Wash., where she ran for A.C. Davis all four years. Kaluzny turned in four top finishes her senior year as well as a 18:58.5 in the 5,000m run to earn her a 19th place finish at the WIAA 4A State Cross Country Championship.
Haberman, a valley local out of Highland High School in Gilbert, turns in her teal and black for maroon and gold. The three-time cross country letterman holds the school record in the 5,000m run with a time of 18:03.10. She holds the course record at the Ojo Rojo Invitational (18:40:00), Gilbert City Meet (18:31:00) and Sectionals (18:24:00). Haberman was also her school’s track and field MVP from 2009-2012.
Velarde headed to the Valley of the Sun to become a Sun Devil from Rancho Mirage, Calif. The four-time letterman in cross country holds Marywood High School’s 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m records.
“Cartledge has a lot of bio-mechanical talents that we are focusing on developing. She is going to have a very successful collegiate running career,” Cole said. “Adriana Olivas is someone that we brought in with a specific skill set. She is a fearless competitor and she’s in to distance running.”
Olivas was a second-team All-Foot Locker West Region athlete as a junior and is the two-time Big-8 League cross country champion and holds the Centennial High School (Corona, Calif.) records at 1,600m, 3,200m and 5,000m. She was the first of the ASU recruiting class and is the stereotypical Arizona State type of runner, Cole says.
“That whole group of freshmen girls can contribute but they are going to have some development curve their freshman year just like everybody does,” Cole said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those girls in our top seven by the end of the year.”
The Sun Devils open the 2012 season on Saturday at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, Ariz. A meet preview of the event will be available on Saturday on www.thesundevils.com