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Cross Country Squads Battle In NCAA West Regional Saturday
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 11/08/1999
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Nov. 8, 1999

Saturday, Nov. 13 - NCAA West Regional, Portland, Ore.
Men's Championship: 11:00 a.m. (MST), 10K, Women's Championship: Noon (MST), 5K

This Week: Arizona State seeks its second consecutive women's berth to the NCAA Championships and its first-ever men's bid at the NCAA West Regional, Saturday, Nov. 13, at Blue Lake State Park in Portland, Ore. The Sun Devils are coming off the best conference meet in school history as the Sun Devil women finished a school-best second at the Pac-10 Championships and the men matched the school-record showing of fourth-place. The men's championship race begins at 11:00 a.m. MST (10:00 a.m. PST) and the women run at noon MST (11:00 a.m. PST).

The Field: The West Regional is traditionally the deepest regional in the country and 1999 appears to be no different. The regional is dominated by the Pac-10 Conference. Last year, eight of the top 10 men's teams and nine of the top 11 women's squads were from the Pac-10. On the women's side, ranked teams include No. 1 Stanford, No. 9 ASU, No. 10 Washington, No. 14 UCLA, No. 24 Arizona and No. 25 Oregon. The men's field includes No. 4 Arizona, No. 5 Stanford, No. 11 Oregon, No. 15 ASU, No. 18 Portland and a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo squad that receives votes in the national rankings.

Sun Devils Ranked: Arizona State's women are ranked ninth in the latest FinishLynx national rankings. They have been ranked as high as third in 1999. Arizona State's men are 15th in the latest MONDO national rankings and have been as high as No. 9. Both squads have been ranked in each poll this season. This year marks the first time ASU's men have ever been ranked and the women were ranked for the first time ever last year.

NCAA Championships: There are nine Regional Meets that will be run on Saturday and the top two teams from each regional receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships, held Mon., Nov. 22, in Bloomington, Ind. Thirteen at-large selections will be made by the NCAA on Mon., Nov. 15, to bring the NCAA Championship field to 31 teams. The stated criteria for an at-large berth in order of importance is (a) regional finish, (b) number of wins against teams qualified for nationals, (c) results of head-to-head competition between teams being considered, and (d) record against common opponents. Arizona State's women made their first appearance at the NCAA Championships last year, finishing in a tie for 23rd after receiving an at-large bid. ASU's men have never advanced to the NCAA Championships.

Pac-10 Championship Review: The emergence of ASU as a conference and national contender continued at the Pac-10 Championships, held Oct. 30 at El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach, Calif. ASU's women finished second to top-ranked Stanford, the best finish in school history. ASU's point total of 62 shattered the previous school-best at the Pac-10 Championships (121, 1986). The men matched their school-best finish of fourth from a year ago, even as Isaiah Festa ran while suffering from asthma which flared up due to the heat and smog. The men's point total of 84 also crushed the ASU Pac-10 Championship record (108, 1986). Individually, Lisa Aguilera and Fasil Bizuneh each earned all-conference honors with fourth-place finishes. Aguilera's finish is the best in school history, beating out Priscilla Hein's sixth-place effort a year ago, and Bizuneh's finish is eclipsed only by Todd Lewis' third-place finish in 1991. The women placed three runners in the top 10 as Aguilera was followed by Colleen Burke (9th) and Kelly MacDonald (10th). The three top-10 finishers matched ASU's total number of top-10 finishes in its women's history at the Pac-10s.

Regional History: The best team finish in ASU history at the NCAA Regional is fifth for both the men and women. The men finished fifth in 1984 and the women finished fifth in 1983. Individually, Mike Stahr's fourth-place finish in 1984 is the men's best and Sabrina Peters-Stern's sixth-place finish in 1982 along with Teresa Barrios' sixth-place finish in 1988 is the women's standard. The Sun Devil women finished sixth at last year's regionals and the men placed eighth, both the best finish since 1986.

Breakthrough Meet: ASU's men and women have each had a 'breakthrough' meet during the 1999 regular season that vaulted them onto the national scene. ASU's women got off to a strong start and won their second consecutive meet to start the season, capturing the Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by Minnesota, which included eight ranked squads. Following that win, the women jumped from No. 16 to No. 3 in the nation. The men's statement came later in the season as the Sun Devils' fifth-place finish at the Pre-National Invitational in Bloomington, Ind., pushed ASU from No. 19 to No. 9 in the country.

Head Coach Walt Drenth: Walt Drenth, in his fourth year as Head Cross Country Coach at Arizona State University, has taken the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. 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 women's appearance at the 1998 NCAA Championships (finished 23rd) was the first in school history. In addition, the women recorded their best regional finish (sixth) since 1986 last year. ASU's men, running with five freshmen and two sophomores, finished eighth at regionals last year (best finish since 1986). 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 four squads to the NCAA Championships.

Incredible Progress: The last two seasons have seen Arizona State cross country take tremendous strides toward becoming a conference and national championship contender. Here are some of the many accomplishments ASU has achieved over the past two years:

Women

  • ASU made its first NCAA Championships appearance in 1998, finishing 23rd.
  • ASU was ranked for the first time in school history in 1998 and climbed as high as 3rd in the FinishLynx poll in 1999.
  • Prior to 1998, ASU had finished higher than seventh at the Pac-10 Championships only three times. After finishing fourth in 1998, ASU finished a school-record second in 1999, losing only to No. 1 Stanford.
  • ASU improved from 10th to sixth at the 1998 NCAA Regional Championships, its best finish since 1986.
  • Three Sun Devils finished in the top 10 at the 1999 Pac-10 Championships, matching the total top-10 finishes in the previous 13 years.
  • In 1997, ASU had one runner finish in the top 50 at NCAA Regionals. In 1998, four Sun Devils did.
  • In 1999, Lisa Aguilera's fourth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships was the best in school history and earned her All-Pac-10 honors.
  • In 1998, Priscilla Hein became the first All-American and All-Pac-10 performer in ASU history, notching the Sun Devils' then- best individual finishes at both the Pac-10 Championships (6th) and NCAA Championships (39th).
  • Opened the 1999 season with two consecutive team victories at the UC Irvine Invitational and Roy Griak Invitational. The last time ASU's women won in back-to-back outings came in the 1993 season.

Men

  • Prior to 1998, ASU had finished in last place at the Pac-10 Championships nine of the previous 10 seasons and higher than seventh only three times. The Sun Devils have finished fourth in both 1998 and 1999, a school record.
  • ASU improved from 11th to 8th at the 1998 NCAA West Regionals, its best finish since 1986.
  • Fasil Bizuneh's fourth-place finish at the 1999 Pac-10 Championships is second only to Todd Lewis' third-place finish in 1991 and the best finish by a Sun Devil since Erin Scroggins finished ninth in 1993. It is also only the fourth top-10 finish in ASU Pac-10 history.
  • ASU had top-20 finishes from two runners (Chavira, Bizuneh) at the 1998 NCAA West Regionals, the first time since 1991 that ASU had any top-20 regional performances.
  • ASU's Fasil Bizuneh and Isaiah Festa were the top two American finishers at the 1999 World Jr. Championships.
  • ASU was ranked for the first time in school history this year, entering the MONDO rankings at No. 17 and climbing as high as ninth.

Individual Championship History: Here's a look at where ASU's runners finished in Championship competition during their career prior to this season:

Name YearPac-10NCAA Reg.Name YearPac-10NCAA Reg.NCAAs
Fasil Bizuneh '9820th20thLisa Aguilera '9829th42nd131st
Ron Buchanan '9835th62ndMary Duerbeck '9714th30thDNR
David Burke '9848th54thMary Duerbeck '9638th93rdDNR
David Burke '9753rd101stKelly MacDonald '9815th20th134th
Juan Chavira '9814th18thKelly MacDonald '9739th53rdDNR
Isaiah Festa '9815th35thAmy Maciasek '9834th50th235th
Brandon Strong '9842nd62ndAmy Maciasek '9751st103rdDNR
Brandon Strong '9754th75thKristin McFerron '9838th59th158th
Nicole Simmons '9839th53rd227th
Cody Sohn '9840th75th211th
Arizona State Sun Devils Cross Country
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