National championships will be on the line in Eugene, Ore., this weekend as the Sun Devil track and field team wraps up the 2012-13 ASU competition calendar.
The Sun Devil men and No. 9 women will take part in the NCAA West Preliminaries in Austin, Texas, this weekend.
The Sun Devils will take part in the 2013 Pac-12 Track and Field Championships this weekend in Los Angeles with two Territorial Cup points up for grabs.
The Arizona State men and women will look to keep their winning streaks against their in-state rivals alive this weekend.
The No. 8 ASU women and No. 17 men will take part in the Battle on the Bayou in Baton Rouge.
Coach Kraft's Full Bio (pdf)
The 2012-13 season will mark the 17th year Greg Kraft has served as the Director of Track & Field at Arizona State University, a tenure in which the Sun Devils have risen to the ranks of the nation's elite all-around programs with four national titles in track & field and 12 total Top 4 finishes at NCAA Championship events (including cross country). In fact, those trophy finishes account for 12 of the 19 Top 4 showings the program has had in its history.
After taking over the program in 1996, the second-longest tenured coach in ASU track & field history (Baldy Castillo led the way for 26 seasons) has built a program that consistently attracts the top talent in the nation to Tempe that challenges for national titles, conference gold and high academic achievements. A four-time USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year and three-time Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year, Kraft has become a highly decorated coach that continually works with some of the highest decorated student-athletes. Kraft has led his teams to four NCAA titles, including the 2007 women's indoor and outdoor crowns and the 2008 men's and women's indoor titles, and has done so with some of the top student-athletes in the nation.
In recent years, the likes of seven-time NCAA champion Jacquelyn Johnson (a Honda Award finalist) and six-time NCAA champion Ryan Whiting (a Bowerman Award finalist) have been a part of Kraft's program, leading the way in competition and establishing a tradition that continues to grow. Since the 2004-05 academic year, the Sun Devils have won four NCAA titles, three Pac-10 crowns and placed in the Top 4 nationally 12 times, including twice in cross country.
In 2012, The ASU men's team bounced back from not scoring a point at at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships to scoring 31 at the 2012 NCAA Championships to take fourth overall, marking the fourth top-ten finish in the past five years for the Sun Devil and was the second trophy-earning finish in that time frame. Jordan Clarke (shot put) and Mason McHenry (800m) each won NCAA titles in their respective events, the first time each had done so during an indoor season and the first overall championship for McHenry while Kraft was tabbed the MPSF Conference Men's Coach of the Year and earned USTFCCCA West Region Men's Coach of the Year honors as well. Chris Benard - who trained directly under Kraft - was named the USTFCCCA West Region Field Athlete of the Year. The ASU men scored 131.5 points at the MPSF Championships and posted a 50-point margin of victory - both the highest tallies in the last decade of men's MPSF competition.
Outdoors, the men's team finished 16th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with 18 points and second at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships with 116.50 points. Clarke won his third consecutive NCAA shot put title and defended his 2011 outdoor crown with a new personal best throw of 20.40m (66-111.25) and defeated his competition by over three feet and gave Arizona State its fourth consecutive NCAA shot put title (Ryan Whiting won in 2009 and 2010) and between Whiting and Clarke, the program has now won eight of the last 10 NCAA shot put competitions between the indoor and outdoor campaigns.
For the women in 2012,Anna Jelmini earned her second consecutive indoor All-America honor in the shot put with her fifth-place finish and a throw of 17.15m (56-03.25) and followed thatwith a second place finish in the discus at the outdoor championships. Under Kraft's tutelage,Keia Pinnick finished fifth in the heptathlon and Christabel Nettey eighth in long jump while Constance Ezugha earned second-team All-America honors in the long jump.
Success was once again found during the 2011 season as Clarke added to the growing list of Sun Devil national champions as he captured the outdoor shot put title, keeping the event win in Tempe for the third year in a row. His program also continued to show improvement in the classroom as 25 individuals earned academic honors from the Pac-10 while Jamie Sandys (second team) and Ben Engelhardt (third team) were both named Academic All-Americans.
The 2010 season was no different as the talented Sun Devil men finished fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on the strength of two titles won by Whiting and a runner-up finish in the 400m dash by Donald Sanford. Whiting, who finished three centimeters shy of equaling the collegiate record in the shot put, captured his fifth national crown in the event and added a discus title to his mantle after his three-peat indoors in the shot put. The men had three Top 8 finishers in the shot put and also earned All-America honors in the 4x400m relay. On the women's side, Jasmine Chaney was one of only four women nationally to qualify to the NCAA meet in both hurdle events and eventually finished fifth overall in the 400m hurdles to earn All-America honors.
Academically, the men were well represented in 2010 again as Whiting was named the USTFCCCA Indoor and Outdoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year (field events) while the men's team earned the USTFCCCA Outdoor Track & Field Scholar Team of the Year honor. Eight individual men and five women earned national academic honors from the Association as well.
In 2009, Whiting won a pair of national titles in the shot put, Jason Lewis captured the indoor weight throw and Sarah Stevens earned five All-America honors to help the women to a pair of Top 5 finishes as a team. All three also were selected ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans. While those three found success in the field events, Sun Devils like Charonda Williams, Jasmine Chaney and Brandon Bethke also were highly successful on the track to continue Kraft's tradition of balance in the program across the board.
During his time in Tempe, the Sun Devils have won four national team titles, 27 individual national titles and earned 224 All-America honors, including 181 in individual track & field events, 27 in relays and 16 in cross country. On the conference level, Kraft's Sun Devils have won three Pac-12 and three MPSF team titles (two women's, one men's) and collected 135 total conference crowns, including 71 individual Pac-12 titles and 16 relay wins outdoors while adding 57 MPSF individual titles and 11 in the relays.
Some of the more successful Sun Devils in program history have become multiple champions under Kraft, including men's champions Aaron Aguayo, the only four-time steeplechase champion in conference history; Marcus Brunson (100m and 200m champion in the same season) and a pair of two-time long jump champions in Dwight Phillips and Matt Turner. On the women's side, Tiffany Greer is the only three-time long jump champion; Charonda Williams is the only woman to sweep the 100m and 200m in back-to-back years; and distance stalwarts Lisa Aguilera (steeplechase) and Kelly MacDonald (5,000m) both won twice at the Pac-10 meet.
Away from Tempe, several of his athletes have traded in their maroon and gold and put on their nation's colors in international competition. Some of those Team USA members include 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Phillips (long jump) and 2008 Beijing Olympians Jacquelyn Johnson (heptathlon, USA), Trevell Quinley (long jump, USA) and Joel Phillip (400m, Grenada). Johnson and Quinley both were U.S. Trials Champions before heading to the Summer Games.
The academic side of the student-athlete also has found great success under Kraft. As a team, the his women have twice been named the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team of the Year for track & field while continually placing multiple individuals on several academic teams. Lewis was named the USTFCCCA Men's Division Indoor Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2009, marking the fifth national honor the program has received. Sun Devils have been selected Academic All-Americans by CoSIDA a total of 21 times under Kraft while there have been 107 honors as part of the National All-Academic selections made by the USTFCCCA. In the Pac-12, 140 individuals have earned first or second team honors in track & field while 68 have been selected to the same teams in cross country.
During the 2009 season, the Sun Devils again were successful on the national stage as both teams were fifth indoors while the women were third outdoors and the men eighth outdoors. Those finishes marked the 10th time the women have earned a trophy (Top 4 nationally) under Kraft since the 2005 cross country season, the eighth Top 10 finish in a row for the women and the fourth in a row for the men. With high team finishes come strong individual showings and that was certainly the case as three national titles were won, including Whiting in the indoor and outdoor shot put and Lewis in the indoor weight throw. In all, Lewis led the way for the men as a four-time All-American in 2009 (indoor shot put, indoor weight throw, outdoor discus, outdoor hammer) while Stevens (indoor shot put and weight and outdoor shot put, hammer and discus) and Williams (indoor 60m, 200m, 4x400m and outdoor 100m, 200m and 4x100m) led the way for the women.
The 2007 and 2008 seasons were perhaps the most `golden' times in Kraft's tenure so far as his women won three national titles and the men one, including a sweep of both crowns at the 2008 indoor meet. In 2008, Johnson won the sixth and seventh national titles of her career, including her third indoor pentathlon with a collegiate record score and her fourth outdoor heptathlon title, while Kyle Alcorn captured a pair of titles, including the indoor 3,000m run and the outdoor 3,000m steeplechase. Whiting also set the collegiate indoor shot put mark while winning his first national crown. The women also nearly swept the team titles for a second year in a row, falling just short of LSU in the outdoor meet to snap a three-title streak (2007 indoor, 2007 outdoor, 2008 indoor). The women also added their third-consecutive Pac-10 title and an MPSF crown.
The 2007 season was certainly one for the record books as well as four women combined to win five individual national titles to carry the Sun Devils to both the 2007 NCAA Indoor and 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the first national crowns in program history for the women. Kraft's women coupled that success with a pair of conference titles, winning the indoor MPSF and outdoor Pac-10 Championships, while also winning the NCAA West Region for the first time. The women's Pac-10 title was their second in a row and it was almost a sweep as the men fell three points shy of their first crown since 1981.
Individually, Johnson defended her national titles in the indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon while the shot put was swept by Sun Devils with Stevens and Pressley winning the indoor and outdoor crowns, respectively. Kubishta won the outdoor pole vault, giving ASU it's first title in the event since 1994, when Olympic champion Hysong took gold. All-told, 10 different women combined to secure 18 All-America honors in 2007, including three by senior Amy Hastings, who tied Maicel Malone for the most all-time in ASU history with 10 (Stevens later broke that record with 15 in her career). That record has since been broke by Stevens, who ended her career in 2009 with 15 total honors. The men also turned in solid performances throughout the year, including Aguayo, who captured the 3,000m steeplechase at the Pac-10 Championships, becoming only the 11th athlete in Pac-10 history to win the same event four times. The third-place finisher at the national meet, Aguayo was one of five men that earned All-America honors in 2007, including Turner, the 2007 Pac-10 champion, in the indoor long jump and Whiting, a redshirt freshman, in the indoor and outdoor shot put.
Kraft was introduced as ASU's head coach July 28, 1996, after spending seven years guiding the track & field and cross country programs at the University of South Carolina where he was the 1996 SEC Coach of the Year. During Kraft's tenure at USC, he rebuilt the men's program into a league power and constructed the women's program from scratch. Kraft also headed up the men's program transition from the Metro Conference to the SEC.
The result of Kraft's work was both quick and remarkable. The Gamecock men's squad took just three years to climb from 22 points and a 10th-place finish to 74 points and a fourth-place finish at the 12-team conference meet. The three teams ahead of South Carolina were recent NCAA champions Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU.
On the women's side, the South Carolina climb was as impressive as it was quick. In four years, they went from a basic walk-on program that finished 10th in the SEC (13 points) to second (103) behind eventual national champion LSU. The women then went on to score 26 points at the NCAA Outdoors to tie UCLA for ninth. And the Gamecocks were to return 102 of their 103 conference points, plus all 26 NCAA points. What made the building of the women's program even more astounding was it had yet to be funded to the NCAA scholarship limits.
Kraft, who is now entering his 32nd year of Division I coaching and 23rd as a head coach, has long been associated with successful track and field and cross country programs. As an assistant, Kraft tutored 26 All-Americans and 36 individual conference champions while helping guide his schools to four conference titles and three NCAA Top 10 finishes. He started his coaching career in 1979 as a graduate assistant coach at his Alma mater, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. During Kraft's one-year stint at Cal Poly, the Mustangs won the NCAA Division II titles in both track and field and cross country. Kraft's next stop was a one-year stint as the field events coach at Indiana State.
In 1981, he moved on to a highly successful stint as an assistant at Kansas State University. During his four years at KSU, Kraft tutored 14 Big Eight champions and 16 NCAA All-Americans. One of the Wildcat pupils was 1996 Olympic triple jump champion Kenny Harrison. During his stint in Manhattan, KSU won a Big Eight championship in cross country and posted two Top 10 NCAA finishes in track, as well as four other Top 20 finishes.
Kraft then headed to the University of Virginia in 1985, where his initial responsibilities included all field events. His duties were later expanded to include the sprints and hurdles. During his four-year stint in Charlottesville, his student-athletes won 20 individual Atlantic Coast Conference titles and earned seven All-America honors while capturing three ACC team titles.
After 10 years as an assistant coach, Kraft was ready for a head coaching job and he was named South Carolina's head coach in 1989. At South Carolina, Kraft's cross country teams were twice named Academic All-America squads. Overall, 38 student-athletes were honored as Academic All-SEC selections and 11 student-athletes would earn All-America honors. Gamecock student-athletes won individual titles in the Metro Conference, SEC, NCAA Indoors, NCAA Outdoors, USA Indoors, USA Outdoors, the Olympic Festival, the Pan American Juniors and the 1996 USA Olympic Trials. He also mentored former ASU men's sprints/hurdles/relays coach Terry Winston, a two-time All-American and SEC runner-up in the hurdles for South Carolina.
Kraft is married to the former Maggie Keyes of Mill Valley, Calif. Maggie is a former collegiate record-setting miler who won AIAW, TAC and Millrose Games titles. She was also a member of the USA's first-ever World Championship team in 1983. The Krafts have two sons, Kyle, an engineering student in ASU's Barretts Honor College, and Cory, currently a junior on the ASU team (pole vault).