March 14, 2013
TEMPE -The Arizona State University track and field teams open up the 2013 outdoor season this weekend as squad hosts the annual Baldy Castillo Invitational at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe. The events is the first of three home meets scheduled for the next four weeks for the Sun Devils as the men and women each look to carry momentum from top-20 finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend into a productive spring outdoor season. This weekend's events will span over two days with the hammer throw competitions and 1,500-meter runs taking place on Friday while the remainder of the event will take place on Saturday. Friday hammer throw action will begin at 1 p.m. MT with the women followed by the men while the 1,500's will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the same format. Saturday's field action will get underway with the women's discus at 10 a.m. with the running events kicking off with the high hurdles beginning at 1 p.m.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
Jordan Clarke enters the season on the Bowerman Watch List and has won four consecutive NCAA Championships in the shot put, including the 2013 indoor title
The ASU women finished in the top 10 at the indoor championships for the first time since 2009 while the men posted a top-25 finish for the eighth time in the last 10 years
The men became the sixth team in the history of the MPSF to defend their conference crown
Clarke and Nettey swept the MPSF Athlete of the Meet awards on the men's and women's sides while Greg Kraft was named the MPSF Men's Coach of the year for the second consecutive season
The Sun Devil media relations staff will be bringing you live updates on Saturday starting at Noon PT through a live blog. Fans are encouraged to tune-in for updates and "live results" while interacting with other fans and our staff. A link to the blog and live results will be available here: http://www.thesundevils.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/031413aaa.html
A LOOK BACK: NCAA Indoor Championships
The Arizona State University track and field teams finished up the indoor campaign on Saturday, with the women taking seventh overall and the men finishing 16th at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. With the finish, the ASU women finished in the top 10 at the indoor championships for the first time since 2009 with their tally of 25.0 points. The men posted a top-25 finish for the eighth time in the last 10 years with 13 points. On the weekend, ASU had six first team All-Americans and four second-team All-Americans and one second-team All-America relay. Jordan Clarke successfully defended his title in the men's shot put, winning his fourth consecutive NCAA Championship in the event.
THROWING THEIR WEIGHT
Over the past 11 years, David Dumble has continued to bring in top talent and build the throws program at Arizona State, which has collected 15 total national titles. ASU continues to build on that legacy as Jordan Clarke successfully defending his indoor title in the shot put and has now won four straight NCAA Championships in the event. During the 2013 indoor season, Arizona State was the only program at the Division I level to have four athletes ranked in the top-26 nationally in at least three different throwing events in Jordan Clarke (1st/shot put;26th/weight throw), Anna Jelmini (6th/shot put) and Chelsea Cassulo (14th, weight throw).
THROWING MORE WEIGHT
Jordan Clarke is primed to make history this season and could do some that not even ASU legend Ryan Whiting could do. Clarke has a chance to win five consecutive NCAA shot put titles by the conclusion of his senior year. The reigning NCAA Champion indoors and outdoors, Clarke won his fourth-straight NCAA title at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a mark of 20.50m (67-03.25) and now sets his sights on a third-straight outdoor title. Should Clarke win out this year, he would become just the second individual in NCAA history to win five consecutive NCAA titles in the shot put. Only Kansas's Karl Salb, who won every shot put title from 1969 to 1971, would have a better a record after winning six titles during his tenure as a Jayhawk.
JEL-ING AT THE RIGHT TIME
Junior Anna Jelmini became a three-time All-American in the shot put indoors with her fifth-place finish in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships . With the effort, Jelmini opened the door to match Sarah Stevens as the lone Sun Devil in school history with four straight first-team All-America honors. Heading into the outdoor season, Jelmini is the two-time defending NCAA runner-up and two-time defending Pac-12 Champion in the discus throw. Jelmini also won the shot put competition last year at the conference championships and is someone who will be key to ASU's cause as the season goes on.
Chelsea Cassulo is fast-becoming one of the best transfer pick-ups in recent history for the Sun Devils. The former UNLV standout finished fourth in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a mark of 21.23m (69-08.00) - the third-best mark in ASU history. Oddly enough, that's not even her best event. Cassulo gives ASU an immediate threat in the hammer throw this outdoor season, having earned All-America honors in the event two years ago at UNLV.
I'VE GOT A HINCH
Before the 2012 season, head coach Greg Kraft believe that one of the team's dark horses this season could be incoming vaulter Derick Hinch, a transfer from Cuesta College. Hinch went on to take third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, becoming just the second Sun Devil to ever clear 18 feet and doing it twice on the season. He became just the second Sun Devil in indoor history to clear 18 feet indoors behind Olympian Nick Hysong with a season's best of 5.50m (18-00.50) this year, earning All-America honors with a sixth-place finish indoors.
One of the key pieces to the Arizona State women's effort this season has been senior Christabel Nettey. Nettey was an absolute monster at the MPSF Championships, winning all three events she was entered in (LJ/TJ/60mH) to score 30 points toward the team cause and earning herself MPSF Athlete of the Meet honors. She set the school indoor long jump record with a mark of 6.55m (21-06.00) and a runner-up effort at the indoor championships. The mark was actually equivalent to the winning jump but Nettey had to settle for second in the tiebreaking process. Nettey has point potential in numerous events during the outdoor campaign and will challenge for the 23-year-old school record in the long jump that is currently held by Jacinta Bartholomew.
SHELBY GT 800
Shelby Houlihan introduced herself to the world last season as she became the first student-athlete in Pac-12 history to sweep the cross country and track and field Newcomer of the Year awards. Houlihan locked up the school record in the indoor 800-meter run this season, earning second-team All-America honor as well while also taking the MPSF title in the mile (where she also owns the school record). Houlihan will be a threat in the middle distance outdoors, where she already holds the school's second-fastest 800-meter time in school history.
KEIA TO THE CITY
Senior Keia Pinnick nearly gave ASU two NCAA Champions following the NCAA Indoor Championships, staging a huge comeback over the final two events of the pentathlon to challenge for the title. Pinnick came up just shy, but set a new career best of 4,327 points in the process while breaking school pentathlon records in the 60-meter hurdles, long jump and 800 meters - all marks previous held by Olympian and former NCAA record-holder Jacquelyn Johnson. Now, Pinnick sets her sights to the outdoor campaign where she will look to challenge for the NCAA heptathlon title following her All-American performance last season.
LIFE OF BRYAN
Junior Bryan McBride nearly made his way back to the podium in an absolutely stacked high jump field at the NCAA Indoor Championships that featured two Olympians. McBride would end up taking ninth in the competition, even though he set a season's best mark of 2.23m (7-03.25). McBride is now a three-time All-American and will be looking for the first First-Team honor of his outdoor career this year after setting the school's seventh-best outdoor mark of all time last year on his way to Second-Team honors.
RUNNING RELAY FAST
The Sun Devil men's sprints team will be the defending Pac-12 Champions in both the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays. The team lost the likes of Daniel Auberry, Rashad Ross, Kelsey Caesar and John Kline from those squads but returns the likes of Ryan Milus, WIll Henry and Chris Burrows while bringing in talented newcomers in Trae Armstrong and Devan Spann. Last season was the first sweep for the Sun Devil relays since 2005 and they will look to make it two straight this season.
OH, HAPPE DAY
Nick Happe had a career year during his junior campaign, setting three marks that ranked in the top-five on ASU's all-time lists. Happe continued his tear by becoming just the third athlete in Sun Devil history to go under four minutes in the mile, breaking the 10-year-old school record formerly held by Brandon Strong in a time of 3:58.73, and going on the be a Second Team All-American in the event. Happe also clocked the third-fastest 5k time in school history at 13:54.51. Happe got the 2012-13 season off to a good start, earning All-Conference and All-Region honors during the cross country season while also being named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Not only is he getting it done in the classroom, but the senior logged his second indoor school record at the Husky Classic with his time of 7:52.18 at 3,000 meters to finish sixth overall in the event and third in his heat behind two 2012 Olympians.
RUNNING FOR MILUS AND MILES
If there was such a thing as a sophomore slump, Ryan Milus showed no symptoms of it in the 2012 outdoor season. The second-year runner broke the meet record at the ASU Invite with a career-best time of 10.21 in the 100-meter dash and followed it up with a then-career-best 20.86 in the 200-meter dash later in the event. Milus had the 17th best time in the nation at 100 meters and was fourth in the event at the Pac-12 Championships. Milus also ran the anchor leg for the Pac-12 Championship 4x100-meter relay team. An untimely injury at the NCAA West Regionals kept Milus out of a bid for the NCAA Championship, but he will be a key force to the Sun Devils cause this year.
IN THE TOP 10 ALL-TIME
During the indoor campaign, 20 student-athletes set 26 marks that improved upon or moved into the top-10 in ASU historuy. ASU has nine newcomers to top-10 lists. Amber Pasternak (pole vault) Chelsea Cassulo (weight throw) and Joe Riccio (weight throw) all placed their stamp in the ASU record books for the first time in that particular event while Gooden (60m), Pinnick (60mH/800m/pentathlon), Nick Happe (3,000m), Christabel Nettey (60mH/long jump/TJ), Cameron Taylor (60mH), Anna Jelmini (shot put), Shelby Houlihan (800m), Shaylah Simpson (pole vault), Linda Kuenzi (pole vault) and Derick Hinch (pole vault) have each scored times and marks that improved upon their already-held placements on the top-10 lists. The 4x400-meter relay of Keia Pinnick, Alycia Herring, Sarah Geren and Brianna Tate has also set two marks this season that rank in the top-10 in school history.
ASU returns eight All-Americans from last year's outdoor season season. Jordan Clarke, Chris Benard and Bryan McBride were all first-team All-Americans for the men last year while Anna Jelmini was the lone first-team selection for the women. Ryan Milus, Nick Happe and Christabel Nettey all took second-team honors last year.
The start of the 2012 represents the beginning of the end for 16 Sun Devils entering the season. On the men's side Chris Benard, Chris Burrows, Jordan Clarke, Nick Happe, Eddie McClain, Daryl Morales, Brian Pierre, Joe Riccio, Rashad Ross, Darius Terry, Josh Walker and Zach Zarda enter their final campaign in the Maroon and Gold while Chelsea Cassulo, Hailey Hanna, Christabel Nettey, Keia Pinnick and Natasa Vulic will compete in their last competitions as Sun Devils this year.
WHO'S THE NEW KID?
An incredible 35 student-athletes, including 15 women and 20 men, will be competing for the Sun Devils in 2013. True freshmen include Amber Pasternak, Ashley Weber while there are also several redshirt freshmen in Kyle Lillie, Chris Manuele, Michael Ohakwe, Garrett Seawell, Zach Zarda, Heather Arsenau, Dalanne Bartlette, Chelsea Cassulo, Kelli Gibson and Lauren Rose.
BACK ON SCHEDULE
In 1996, Pal Arne Fagernes won the men's javelin title at the NCAA Championships. It was not until 2004 that Arizona State had another national champion as Jacquelyn Johnson won the outdoor heptathlon as a true freshman. Starting in 2005, ASU had at least one returning NCAA champion on its roster for six years in a row, a streak that came to an end two seasons ago because of graduation. The 2010 and 2009 rosters featured two returning individuals each (Ryan Whiting and Jason Lewis in 2010, Whiting and Sarah Stevens in 2009) while the 2008 roster featured four returning champions in Johnson, Stevens, Jessica Pressley and April Kubishta, all who won titles in 2007. The Sun Devils had no returning champions in 2011 but rectified that for the 2012 season with junior Jordan Clarke returning as the 2011 NCAA outdoor shot put champion and that carried over into a sweep of the 2012 titles. With his return again this year, ASU hopes he can pass the torch on and keep the streak going.
SAME TEAMMATE, DIFFERENT TEAM
As the season begins, there are 17 Sun Devils on the roster that were teammates before they came to Arizona State. Prior to their joining the Sun Devils, thrower Diana Diep comes out of Sandra Day O'Connor, which was also home to junior high jumper Byran McBride.
KRAFT LEADS THE WAY
Head Coach Greg Kraft is entering his 17th year as the leader of the Sun Devil program, a tenure that has brought Arizona State back to the top of the standings in both the NCAA and Pac-12 events. Since his hiring, the program has continued to evolve into one of the more well-rounded in the nation with strength on the track and in the field as well as in cross country. Kraft and his staff have worked diligently to reach their goals of championships and success in education and that has not been more clearly seen than in the past five years as the hardware has continued to roll in. His program has annually produced some of the top individuals in the nation with 27 of the program's 59 individual and relay national titles won since 2004 while both his teams and individual student-athletes have garnered national academic acclaim. Prior to his arrival, the program boasted one NCAA Championship (men's outdoor track & field, 1977) and one Pac-12 Championship (men's outdoor track & field, 1981). In the last seven years, his Sun Devils have captured four national crowns (2007 women's indoor and outdoor track & field, 2008 men's and women's indoor track & field) and added three Pac-12 Championships (women's outdoor track & field, 2006-08). Kraft's teams have finished in the Top 10 of the NCAA Track & Field Championships on 23 occasions in 17 years while the program had done so just 14 times prior to his arrival in Tempe.
LONG TENURE IN TEMPE
As he begins his 17th year at Arizona State, Kraft's tenure ranks as the second-longest in Sun Devil track & field history and the third-longest active streak among all current ASU head coaches. The only coach that has led the track & field program longer than Kraft is legendary coach Senon `Baldy' Castillo, who led the way for 26 years (1954-79). Among current Sun Devil head coaches, Kraft's 17th year ranks behind John Spini, who is in his 33rd year with gymnastics and Sheila McInerney, who is in her 29th year with women's tennis.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Sun Devils will be right back in action next weekend in Tempe as the team hosts the annual ASU Invitational at Sun Angel Stadium.