Nov. 10, 2010
TEMPE - The Arizona State University cross country program is heading to the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ore., this Saturday as the Sun Devils are set to race in the NCAA West Region Championships with berths into the NCAA Cross Country Championships on the line. The meet, being hosted by Oregon, will be one of nine regional competitions held on Saturday that will be utilized in determining the 31 teams that will race for a national title on November 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
While the nine region races throughout the United States will crown both a regional team champion and an individual champion, the heading into the region races is for a team to finish in the Top 2 to earn an automatic berth into the national final. After all nine meets have concluded, the field of 18 automatic qualifiers will be expanded to a final field of 31 teams as the NCAA will announce 13 at-large selections by 7 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Arizona) on Sunday night on the NCAA web site (ncaa.com).
Heading into this weekend’s regional race, the Sun Devil women will look to do everything they can to advance to the NCAA Championships and, in the process, extend their consecutive appearances streak to 13. After being selected as an at-large team last year, the team’s streak rose to 12 in a row, making it the third-longest active streak in the nation and eighth-longest in NCAA history. The first time the team made the national final came in 1998, the same year that began the program’s current streak.
While the women have built an impressive streak of advancement to the NCAA meet, the men have competed in the event just six times overall, including last season, in which it placed 19th. By making the field of 31 this year, the men would advance to the national championships for the second year in a row, a feat that has happened only one other time when ASU was eighth in 2004 and 17th in 2005. The other national appearances the men made came in 1999, 2001 and 2007.
IN THE RANKINGS
In the latest U.S. Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) rankings, neither Sun Devil team is receiving votes in the national poll while both are among the Top 15 in the West Region heading into Saturday’s race. In the West, the women are currently ranked No. 10 while the men are ranked No. 13 in the region.
IN THE FIELD: NCAA WEST WOMEN
Thirty (30) teams are entered to compete in this year’s women’s 6,000m race with six of those teams currently holding a Top 30 national ranking, five of which are members of the Pac-10 Conference. The ranked teams in the women’s field include three Top 10 teams in No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Arizona and No. 7 Oregon, as well as No. 11 Washington, No. 26 California and No. 27 San Francisco. Here is the list of teams in the meet: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California , UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Portland, Sacramento State, San Diego, San Diego State, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.
IN THE FIELD: PAC-10 MEN
Twenty-five (25) teams have registered to compete in the men’s 10,000m race, which will have just four ranked teams this year with two of those teams ranking among the Top 3 in the nation and, at various points during the season, were also ranked No. 1. Along with No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 Oregon, the men’s field will feature No. 13 Portland and No. 22 California. UCLA is currently receiving votes, but is right outside of the Top 30. Here is the list of teams in the meet: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California , UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Portland, Sacramento State, Saint Mary’s, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.
MEET HISTORY: NCAA WEST REGION
Since the women’s national appearance streak began in 1998, the Sun Devils have finished outside of the Top 5 in the West only once (6th in 1998) while finishing second four times (2000, 2002, 2004, 2005) and third four other times. The men, in that same time, have posted 11 Top 10 finishes (11th in 1998 and 2006) while taking second in 2004 and finishing third twice (1999 and 2005).
MEET RECAP: 2009 NCAA WEST
Last year at the Springfield Country Club, the Sun Devil women finished fourth overall and the men tied for fifth place as both would later go on to earn at-large selections into the NCAA Championships. Kari Hardt (16th), Anna Sperry (18th), Lindsay Prescott (20th) and Allie Kieffer (21st) all placed in the Top 25 to earn all-region honors for the women and help the team score 119 points for their fourth-place showing. Washington (25) won the race with Oregon (66) earning the region’s second automatic berth to nationals. On the men’s side, Brandon Bethke led the way as he placed seventh overall while Ben Engelhardt (26th) and Jeff Helmer (29th) just finished outside of all-region accolades with their finishes. ASU and Cal Poly both scored 255 points to tie for fifth while the region’s Top 2 teams were Stanford (27) and Portland (84).
MEET RECAP: 2010 PAC-10
Two weeks ago, the Sun Devils ran at the Pac-10 Championships in Seattle with the women placing seventh and the men fifth overall. Individually, Lindsay Prescott led the way for the women as she placed ninth overall in the 6,000m run and earned Second Team All-Pac-10 honors. On the men’s side, Ben Engelhardt duplicated his finish from one year earlier as he was 14th overall in the 8,000m race and also earned Second Team All-Pac-10 honors.
LOOKING TO BREAK THROUGH
When Anna Sperry won the Dave Murray Invitational last year, she captured the 30th individual title in women’s program history and gave the women at least one race victory in each of the last three seasons six in the last seven. While the women have had individual success, the men are looking to break a drought that has lasted since the 2001 season when Juan Reyes won the UC Irvine-Asics Invitational. In the time between now and Reyes’ victory, the women have captured 13 race titles.
HELLO! MY NAME IS...
Heading into the 2010 season, there are 44 student-athletes on the Sun Devil rosters, including 22 women and 22 men. Of those 44 runners, 17 are new to the team this season, including seven women and 10 men. The women’s newcomers include transfers Alyssa Allison (Arkansas), Eliza Gawryluk (Northern Arizona) and Hailey Hanna (Mesa CC) and freshmen Nathalie Anaya (Windermere, Fla.), Christina Price (Tucson, Ariz.), Jade Riley (Glendale, Ariz.) and Kailey Rumbo (Phoenix, Ariz.). On the men’s side, the 10 newcomers are comprised of three transfers in Michael Rodriguez (ASU’s club team), Darius Terry (Northern Arizona) and Brian Yates (Queens Univ. of Charlotte) and freshmen Garrett Baker-Slama (Tempe), Andy Cannata (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Jared Gonzales (Chandler, Ariz.), Andrew Hagler (Chandler, Ariz.), Jesus Molina (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), Sean Newport (Tempe, Ariz.) and Jesus Rivera (Sedona, Ariz.).
Like the women, the men’s roster has some similar schools appearing, including a pair of high school teammates and a pair of teammates from another university. Last year, Cameron Liston joined the Sun Devils after running for Northern Arizona University and, this year, he is joined on the roster by Darius Terry, who also competed NAU. A pair of freshmen also are continuing their competitive careers together as both Jared Gonzales and Andrew Hagler both join the squad after running together at Chandler High School.
WITH HARD WORK...
One of the new additions to the program this fall is Michael Rodriguez, who debuts for the Sun Devils as a fifth-year senior. In the past four years, Rodriguez continued to train toward his goal of making the Sun Devil squad by running with the Arizona State club team and even competed in several cross country and track & field events that the Sun Devils hosted during that time. The State Press recently wrote a feature on Rodriguez (statepress.com), which ran on September 15.
Twenty-seven student-athletes return to the roster this year, including five seniors: Cherise McNair, Brianna Smith and Anna Sperry for the women and men’s runners Ben Engelhardt and Zeke Van Patten. Six returners are juniors with three women in Camille Olson, Lindsay Prescott and Kauren Tarver and men Dylan Hatcher, Cameron Liston and Daniel Lovell. The returning sophomores include women Courtney Golden, Catherine Loden, Kate Lydy, Stephanie Mundt, Natasa Vulic and Ashley Wimmer and men Matt Boughton, Nick Happe, Ben Jankunas, Mason McHenry and Doug Smith. The Sun Devils that were with the program last year and redshirted include women Karlee Owens, Natalie Todd and Liz Zuniga and men Matt Estlund and Steven Schnieders.
Of those 44 student-athletes on the roster this fall, only six are listed as senior (three men and three women) with only eight more runners (five women, three men) listed as juniors, giving Arizona State 30 freshmen and sophomores. The freshmen include nine true-freshmen and seven redshirt freshmen.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
Louie Quintana returns for his seventh year as the head coach of the Sun Devil cross country program, a program in which he took over on August 18, 2004. During his six years leading the distance group, Quintana has worked with seven individuals that earned 10 total All-America honors in cross country, including the program’s only three-time honoree Amy Hastings and, most recently, Brandon Bethke, who placed seventh nationally at the 2009 NCAA meet. On the track, his athletes have been instrumental in helping the Sun Devils capture four national titles and three Pac-10 crowns. He has worked with three individuals that have collected four NCAA titles, including Kyle Alcorn, who won the indoor 3,000m run and the outdoor 3,000m steeplechase in 2008.
NEXT TIME OUT
The NCAA Cross Country Championships is the final event of the season and will take place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday, November 22. Teams that qualify for the meet will be annouced by the NCAA on its web site no later than 7 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Arizona) on Sunday night (November 14).