TEMPE, Ariz.-- The Arizona State University cross country teams will face off against its conference counterparts this weekend as it travels to Louisville, Colo., for the 2013 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, hosted by the University of Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 2. Held at the Coal Creek Golf Course, the men’s 8k is set to start at 10:40 a.m. MT, while the women’s 6k is set to follow at 11:40 a.m.
Pac-12 Television Coverage
For the second-consecutive year, the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will be on television, with tape-delayed coverage of the meet airing on the Pac-12 Networks. The first airing is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. PT. Dwight Stones (analyst) and Jim Watson (pxp) will call the action.
This year marks the 30th time the men’s side will compete in the Pac-12 Championships, while the women’s will run for the 28th time since the Sun Devils joined the league in 1979. While neither team has won the Conference crown since joining in 1984 and 1986, respectively, both have come close. The men have finished as meet runner-up twice (last in 2004), and the women have done so seven times (last in 2006). All-time, the men have finished in the top-3 four times while the women have done so 10 times. Individually, the only Sun Devil to be crowned Pac-12 Champion was Amy Hastings, who was the race held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in 2004.
Last season, the men’s team finished four points out of tying third for third place as Nick Happe led the way with an 11th-place finish at 23:45. Zach Zarda finished in 15th, while the rest of the ASU scorers finished in the top-40 for a total of 109 points.
On the women’s side, Shelby Houlihan led the way with an eighth-place finish at 20:26, while teammate Natasa Vulic finished in 37th overall at 21:30. Over- all, the women finished ninth, yet were only one point out of eighth place and 10 out of seventh.
Previewing The Field
The Sun Devils will face both USTFCCCA No. 1-ranked teams in the country, as Colorado and Arizona sit atop the men’s and women’s polls, respectively. Including Colorado, Oregon (4), Stanford (13), and Washington (25) are ranked on the men’s side, where ASU has received votes. On the women’s side, Oregon (12), Washington (13), Colorado (16), Stanford (20), and the Sun Devils (26) are ranked as well.
The raining Pac-12 Champions on the men’s side is Colorado, as the Buffaloes placed each of its scorers in the top-15 for 49 total points. Oregon took the team crown on the women’s side with three finishers in the top-5 for a total of 47 points. Individually, Arizona’s Lawi Lalang, who will be back to defend his title for the second year in a row, won the men’s race by one second with a mark of 22:49. The 2012 women’s champion was Stanford’s Kathy Kroeger won with a time of 20:06
About The Course
The Coal Creek Golf Course is this year’s host of the 2013 cross country championship. The men’s 8k race consists of three-2k loops and two-1k loops. The women’s 6k race consists of two-2k loops and two-1k loops. The course consists of rolling fairways, no elevation gain, and several sharp turns.
T-Cup Point Is On The Line
Two points in the Territorial Cup series between Arizona State and conference rival Arizona are on the line at this week at the Pac-12 Champion- ships.
Last season, the Sun Devils and Wildcats split the points with the ASU men taking one point and the Arizona women taking the other.
In The Rankings
Following a standout performance at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 19, the ASU women have entered the USTFCCCA poll at No. 26. This marks the first time the Sun Devils have been ranked since the 2010 season. On the men’s side, ASU has slipped from No. 30 to having picked up seven votes toward the poll.
Last Time Out
Shelby Houlihan and the ASU women’s cross country team had a stand- out day for the Sun Devil program, topping six ranked teams as it finished in a superb 14th place with 461 points at Wisconsin’s adidas Invitational on Oct. 19. Houlihan finished fourth overall in the women’s 6k race with a time of 19:52, improving upon her previous 6k mark this season by nearly 38 seconds (20:35.45 at the Griak Invitational on Sept. 29). Once again, sophomore Adriana Olivas ran the race of her life, crossing the finish line in 20:26 for 33rd place and shattering her season best in the 6k, which was originally 21:45.30, also set at the Griak Invite. The then-No. 30 Maroon and Gold men’s team saw each of its seven competitors run under 25 minutes en route to a 20th place finish with 522 points, and ahead of five ranked opponents. Each Sun Devil runner posted a season best in Saturday’s 8k race. Redshirt senior Garrett Seawell led the ASU finishers with a season best time of 24:07 for 59th overall.
Junior Shelby Houlihan was ASU’s top finisher once again, placing fourth at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 19. Houlihan demolished her previous season best in the 6k, 20:35.45 from the Roy Griak Invitational, with a mark of 19:52 at Wisconsin. The Sioux City, Iowa, native has been the top finisher for the Sun Devils in every race she has competed in at Arizona State and became ASU’s first All-American since Kari Hardt finished 39th at the 2008 NCAA Championships. Houlihan became the 10th Sun Devil to earn All-America honors since 1998. Houlihan earned All-West Region honors last season, finishing fourth overall. Houlihan’s finish matched the seventh-best finish in ASU history at the Regional meet and was the best finish since Amy Hastings took second in 2005. While not all cross country courses are built the same, Houlihan clocked a time of 19:50 at the Jefferson Park Golf Course in the fastest time run by a Sun Devil over a 6,000-meter race, beating her own record of 19:58 set earlier this season - a school record previously held by the Olympian Hastings.
Herson On Fire
Sophomore Ryan Herson may have established himself as one of the po- tential breakout stars in the country with his opener at the George Kyte Classic two weekends ago. Herson was 11 seconds behind race-winner Matt McElroy of NAU, finishing in 24:56.1, the fastest time ever for a Sun Devil on the course and the first time an ASU runner broke the 25 minute barrier in Flagstaff – a feat made just as impressive by the fact that Flag- staff is located at an elevation of 7,000 feet. Herson was a consistent point-scorer for the Sun Devils last season and looks to establish himself as a new pace-setter this season with the loss of seniors Nick Happe and Darius Terry. Herson showed glimpses last season of his potential, being named the Pac-12 Men’s Track Athlete of the Week following his 5,000 meter victory at the Baldy Castillo in the opening week of the ASU season before advancing to the NCAA West Regional Championships at 10,000 meters.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior Steven Schnieders and junior Garrett Baker-Slama have been named the captains of the 2013 cross country team and you’d be hard- pressed to find a more deserving pair. The duo represent the only returning upper classmen to the Sun Devil roster this season and both were point scorers at the Pac-12 Championships in the past two seasons. Not only that, the duo is among the brightest on the team, both earned Pac-12 First Team All-Academic accolades last season. Baker-Slama was fifth overall at the George Kyte Classic, showing he can get it done on the course as well.
Weekend At Bernie’s
Heralded freshman Bernie Montoya put his skills to the test in the team’s opener in Flagstaff, finishing 10th overall in 25:46.2 in his collegiate debut. He was the third Sun Devil across the line in the competition, becoming one of the few ASU harriers in history to ever finish under 26 minutes on the Buffalo Park course. In 2012, Montoya made headlines across the country as he won the prestigious adidas Dream Mile in New York. Mon- toya shocked the field with his winning time of 4:01.32 to win the event, clocking the fastest time in United States junior class prep history and the ninth-fastest time in U.S. high school history, period. Montoya finished his career at Cibola High School in Yuma, Ariz., with eight track and field state championships and three cross country title and was unaimously regarded as one of the top recruits in the nation.
Coming into his 10th season as a head coach for Arizona State cross coun- try, Louie Quintana has put together quite the program since taking over in August 2004. During his seven years leading the distance group, Quintana has worked with seven individuals that earned 10 total All-America honors in cross country, including the program’s only three-time honoree Amy Hast- ings and Brandon Bethke who placed seventh nationally at the 2009 NCAA Championships. On the track, his athletes have been instrumental in helping the Sun Devils capture four national titles and three Pac-10 crowns. He has worked with four individuals that have collected five NCAA titles, including Kyle Alcorn, who won the indoor 3,000-meter run and the outdoor 3,000-me- ter steeplechase in 2008 and more recently, Mason McHenry, who was the 2012 NCAA Indoor 800m champion.
No Lump Of Cole
Ryan Cole has built up a reputation as one of the most promising and ex- citing up-and-coming young coaches in the nation and was named as the head coach for the women’s cross country team for the 2011 campaign as a testament to that. Now in his second year as head women’s cross country coach, Cole began working with the Arizona State program during the 2007- 08 campaign and had served as an assistant ever since. In that time, Cole worked with the ASU women’s distance teams serving under Coach Louie Quintana while also handling many of the daily administrative aspects of the Arizona State program and working with the management of home meets. Cole has overseen Shelby Houlihan’s rise to one of the elite distance runners in the nation, coaching her to All-America honors in 2012 in cross country and Pac-12 title and All-America honors at 1,500 meters during the track and field season.
Welcome To The Show
The Arizona State cross country rosters feature a total of 31 student-athletes (16 men, 15 women). Of that total, there are an astounding 16 Sun Dev- ils that are fresh faces to the program this season. That list features Jack Balder (Fr./Telecula,Calif.), Cody Brazeal (Fr./Clovis, Calif.), Nick Chatel (Fr./ Westerville, Ohio), Noah Kenyawani (RFr./Nairobi, Kenya), Bernie Montoya (Fr./Yuma, Ariz.)/ Ryan Norton (Jr./Yuma, Ariz.), Kevin Rayes (Gr./Phoenix, Ariz.), Jack Rubenzer (Fr./Scottsdale, Ariz.), Miranda Kewley (Fr./Temecula, Calif.), Natalie Krafft (Fr./Phoenix, Ariz.), Anna Long (Fr./Scottsdale, Ariz.), Jenna Maack (Fr./Phoenix, Ariz.), Sydney Mierau (Fr./Phoenix, Ariz.), Kala Stone (Fr./Kamloops, B.C.), Chelsey Totten (Fr./Santa Clarita, Calif.) and Chi- ara Warner (Fr./Townsend, Mont.).
The men’s team is the only squad to feature any seniors this season, with Steven Schnieders, Garrett Seawell and graduate Kevin Rayes the only indi- viduals in their final year of eligibility. The women’s squad features a host of juniors but not a single senior this season.
A Local Affair
One of the keys to building one of the top running programs in nation is the ability to recruit well from the areas around you. The Sun Devil teams have taken that task seriously and will field 13 Arizona natives on the 2013 roster, several of whom will be expected to play a large role on this year’s team. That list includes Noah Kenyawani (RFr./Tucson, Ariz.), Bernie Montoya (Fr./ Yuma, Ariz.)/ Ryan Norton (Jr./Yuma, Ariz.), Kevin Rayes (Gr./Phoenix, Ariz.), Jack Rubenzer (Fr./Scottsdale, Ariz.), Natalie Krafft (Fr./Phoenix, Ariz.), Anna Long (Fr./Scottsdale, Ariz.), Jenna Maack (Fr./ Phoenix, Ariz.), Sydney Mierau (Fr./Phoenix, Ariz.) among the newcomers while returners Garrett Baker-Slama (RJr./Tempe, Ariz.), Tommy Williams (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Daniel Wong (Tucson, Ariz.) and Tory Haberman (Gilbert, Ariz.) all also hail from Arizona.
2012: Season Review
Nick Happe earned USTFCCCA All-West Honors as the ASU men came painstakingly shy of an NCAA Championship qualification last season. The team took sixth at the NCAA West Regional Championships after a promising fourth place finis at the Pac-12 Championship just weeks earlier. Happe was also named the Pac-12 Scholar-Ath- lete of the Year as the men reentered the rankings for several weeks following the strong finish at the Pac-12 Championships. Shelby Houlihan became ASU’s 10th female All-American since 1998 and the first Sun Devil to accomplish the feat since Kari Kardt in 2008 following her stellar season that saw her clock the fastest 6,000-meter time by any Sun Devil in history in cross country en route to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA West Regional Championships.