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ASU Opens 2000 Season At UC Irvine
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 09/07/2000
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Sept. 7, 2000

Saturday, Sept. 9 -- UC Irvine/Asics Invitational
Women: 9:00 a.m. (PT), 5K, Men: 9:45 a.m. (PT), 5-mile

This Week: The Arizona State men's and women's cross country squads open the 2000 season Saturday, Sept. 9 at the University of California-Irvine/Asics Invitational held at Central Park in Huntington Beach, Calif. The women's 5,000-meter race is scheduled for a 9 a.m. start time, and will be followed by the men's five-mile race at 9:45 a.m.

The Field: On the men's side, the Sun Devils will be up against 15th-ranked Northern Arizona, 16th-ranked Southern Utah, host UC Irvine, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge and New Mexico State. The ASU women will compete against 13th-ranked NAU, 25th-ranked UC Irvine, Southern Utah, Cal Poly, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge, New Mexico State, UNLV and Pac-10 foe USC.

Sun Devils In the Polls: For the second straight year, the ASU men's and women's squads enter the season ranked in the Top 25. The women are ranked 10th by the FinishLynx poll, while the men are ranked 11th in the MONDO poll, the United States Cross Country Coaches Association announced Saturday, Sept. 2. The Sun Devil women are the second highest ranked Pac-10 team behind conference and national preseason favorite Stanford. The men are fourth amongst Pac-10 foes included in the rankings, behind No. 2 Stanford, No. 5 Arizona and No. 9 Oregon. Last year marked the first time ever the ASU men cracked the Top 25 poll, while the women notched their first-ever preseason ranking.

2000 Outlook: The men return five of their seven runners who made their inaugural appearances at the NCAA Championships last season, while six of the seven women are back from their second straight appearance at nationals. The men will be bolstered by junior Fasil Bizuneh, one of three male cross country All-Americans in ASU history, and fifth-year senior Garrett Jensen. Senior Kelly MacDonald, just the second ASU woman to earn All-American cross country status, and junior Lisa Aguilera will pave the way for ASU women during the 2000 season.

1999 Review: The Sun Devil cross country program continues to match its rising success year after year and if 1999 is any indication, ASU has a promising season ahead. Last year, both the men and women posted their best seasons ever. The women made their second-straight NCAA Championship appearance finishing 12th, after a third place finish at regionals and a second-place finish at Pac-10s. The men made their first appearance at nationals finishing 14th and were ranked for the first time ever. The women had four top-three finishes last year, while the men had four top-five finishes including two top-three finishes.

Head Coach Walt Drenth: Walt Drenth, in his fifth year as Head Cross Country Coach at Arizona State University, has taken the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. He was named the Pac-10's Coach of the year in 1999, after leading the Sun Devils to their best finish in school history. 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 best regional finishes in school history (both finished 3rd last year). In addition, the men are made their first appearance in school history at the NCAA Championships in 1999 and finished 14th, while the women earned back-to-back berths to nationals, including a 12th-place finish in 1999. 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 six squads to the NCAA Championships.

Up Next: The Sun Devils will pack their bags for Minneapolis, Minn. to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational Saturday, Sept. 23.

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