Sept. 24, 2002
On The Starting Line
Following a three week absence from competition, the No. 14 men's and No. 19 women's Arizona State cross country teams return to action with a trip to Minneapolis, Minn., and the Roy Griak Invitational. Those runners not making the trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes will run at the Canyon West Classic at Kiwanis Park in Tempe.
After three weeks off from competition and two national polls being released, the women remain ranked as the No. 19 team in the nation. The men, after opening the year as the No. 13 team in the preseason poll, slipped to No. 17 in the first poll, but climbed to No. 14 in the Sept. 24 poll.
Two MONDO regional polls have been released for the men with the rankings of week 2 matching those of the first week. In the west, Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State, Washington and Cal Poly are ranked Nos. 1-5 while 6-10 are occupied by Portland, UC Santa Barbara, Washington State, Arizona and UCLA.
About the Roy Griak Invitational
Held annually in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Roy Griak Invitational is one of the largest events run with collegiate student-athletes from divisions I, II and III, as well as high school runners. The men will run an 8,000m race at the Les Bolstad Golf Course, with the women competing in a 6,000m race. The Sun Devil women are the defending champions of a year ago where as the men placed eight in 2001. Some of the teams competing on the men's side include No. 9 Oregon, No. 10 Providence, No. 11 BYU, No. 12 Eastern Michigan and No. 15 Michigan State, while No. 13 Providence and No. 19 ASU headline the women's race.
About the Canyon West Invitational
Hosted by Mesa Community College at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, members of the Arizona State team that do not travel to the Roy Griak Invitational will have an opportunity to race close to campus. The men will run an 8,000m race with the women's circuit running 5,000m. Last year, the women's "B" team took the title with 41 points while only two ASU men competed and did not qualify for a team score.
Newcomers to the cross country program have already made their respective marks with the Sun Devil following the first meet of the year at the adidas Invitational (Sept. 6). In the women's race, ASU's top two runners were true freshmen (Jessica Scalzo and Amy Hastings) while three redshirt freshmen rounded out the top five for the Sun Devils. In all, four freshmen competed for the women and placed in the top 20. For the men, youth prevailed as freshman Aaron Aguayo (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Point) finished fifth overall to post the best time and finish for the Sun Devils. Three other freshmen also placed in the race.
In The Opener
Both Sun Devil programs opened their respective campaigns at the adidas Cross Country Invitational held Sept. 6 in South Bend, Ind.,hosted by Notre Dame. The men, ranked 13th at the time, finished fourth of four teams with 72 points. Ahead of the ASU harriers were No. 7 North Carolina State (32), No. 25 Notre Dame (42) and Tennessee (70). Freshman Aaron Aguayo led the way with a fifth-place finish for the Sun Devils. The No. 19 women finished third of three teams as No. 9 Notre Dame took the team title with 32 points. No. 3 NC State was second with 43 points, just two ahead of ASU's 45.
Fasil Bizuneh became the first male ASU cross country runner to earn All-America status twice in a career last season with a 22nd-place finish at the NCAA meet. An All-American in 1999 after finishing 19th at the meet, Bizuneh also was named to the All-Pac-10 first team in 1999 and 2001, while also garnering Academic All-Pac-10 accolades in 2001. He joins Lisa Aguilera (1998-01) as the program's only two-time honorees.
The Sun Devil teams have excelled not only on the cross country course, but in the classroom as well. Last season, for the fifth year in a row (1997-2001), ASU's women were named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association. Also, the women held the highest grade point average among women's sports at ASU for the second-consecutive year. For good measure, 38 athletes were named ASU Maroon and Gold Scholars. Earning Verizon Academic All-America honors in 2001 was Lisa Aguilera. Aguilera was named to the women's second-team, after joining Kelly MacDonald as a Verizon Academic All-District first-team selection.
2001 Season Summary
Three records for the program were established in 2001. The first took place at the Pac-10 Championships when the men combined to take second place as a team, the highest-ever in the history of the program, following three straight years of finishing third. Individually, Fasil Bizuneh and Lisa Aguilera finished the NCAA Championship race in 22nd and 18th, respectively, to capture their second All-America honors. Both runners became the first in ASU cross country annals to earn the honor twice in a career.
Getting Warmed Up For...
Both squads return to action Oct. 11 at Kiwanis Park in Tempe for the Arizona State Invitational. The women's 5,000m race is set to begin at 4:45 p.m. with the men making the 8,000m run at 5:15 p.m.