TEMPE – Arizona State University cross country junior Shelby Houlihan was named the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Athlete of the Week, the USTFCCCA announced on Monday.
Behind a strong second half of the rainy Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Division I race at the Roy Griak Invitational, Houlihan in her 2013 debut was the runaway winner of the 6,000-meter race in 20:35.45 over a field that included eight ranked teams — including in-state rival No. 5 Arizona — and the top two squads in Division II.
After coming through the halfway point as part of a lead pack of about two-dozen runners, Houlihan turned on the jets in the latter stages of the race to pull away from the group and defeat Arizona’s Elvin Kibet by 13 seconds.
Houlihan became the third Sun Devil to win an individual title at the Griak, joining Kari Hardt (2008) and Amy Hastings (2005) as the only other Sun Devils to win in Minneapolis.
Houlihan’s time was the second-fastest winning time of all time on a 6,000-meter course behind only Lisa Aguilera’s victory the 2000 NCAA West Regional Championships in Fresno, Calif., in 20:25.0.
A 2012 All-American, Houlihan has not raced in any cross country event as a Sun Devil where she has not been the team’s top finisher.
It was the second victory of the junior’s career after winning the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, Ariz., last season. The victory was made more impressive when you consider Houlihan was racing against the likes of seven nationally ranked programs, including eventual team champion No. 5 Arizona, No. 12 Michigan State, No. 19 Minnesota, No. 20 Vanderbilt, No. 21 North Carolina, No. 26 Iowa State and No. 29 Butler.