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Cross Country History

During the 1960s, Arizona State, known for its rich tradition in men's and women's cross country, produced several standout performers who helped establish Sun Devil harrier history.

At the inaugural Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championships in 1962, Sun Devil sophomore Eric Owers captured first-place honors in record time (15:56.3) over the 3.3 mile Papago Park course in Phoenix, guiding ASU to a fourth-place team finish.

Owers remains the lone conference titlist from Arizona State in men's and women's cross country history. Jerry Jobski finished as the 1968 WAC runner-up following a 13th-place finish in '67. During the '68 campaign, Jobski also won four dual meet contests.

One of Jobski's teammates, Manuel Quintanar, placed 10th at the '68 WAC Championships. Quintanar and Jobski helped the Sun Devils earn second-place honors, the finest conference finish in school annals.

Louis Scott, a 1968 U.S. Olympian also proved to be a force for the Sun Devil cross country program in the 1960s.

Several Sun Devils distinguished themselves during the early 1970s, including Doug Conley, Pete Span and Bill Brown. However, Larry Lawson may stand as the top harrier in Arizona State chronicles.

Lawson, fresh off a third-place finish at the '74 WAC Championships, garnered All-America honors with a 16th- place finish at the NCAA Championships in Bloomington, Ind. Lawson (30:22.93) and teammate Mike Elder became the initial Arizona State cross country runners to qualify for the NCAAs.

A decade later, Mike Stahr forged onto the scene and became the third ASU male runner to compete at the NCAAs. En route to the NCAAs, Stahr finished fourth (31:42.7) at the NCAA Region VIII meet, which is the highest finish by a Sun Devil.

ASU launched its women's program in 1979. All-conference performer Sabrina Peters qualified for the 1980 national championship event in Seattle and finished 45th. Peters redshirted the following year, giving Maria Trujillo of Mexico the Sun Devils' top spot. Trujillo and Peters joined forces in '82 to provide ASU with its strongest attack ever.

That season, Peters returned to the NCAAs, finishing 44th, and, a year later, Lynn Nelson competed at the NCAA Championships. Both Nelson (10,000 meters, 1988) and Trujillo (marathon, 1984) would later represent their homelands in the Olympic Games.

Current head coach Ken Lehman arrived in 1985 from the University of Houston. During his first four campaigns in Tempe, two of his runners -- Laura LaMena and Teresa Barrios -- qualified for the NCAAs.

The women's program posted upper-division Pac-10 Conference finishes in Lehman's first three season as Sun Devil head coach. In addition, Arizona State twice competed at the NCAA Region VIII Championships.

Meanwhile, the ASU men's team can claim four top-seven conference finishes in the past 10 seasons. The Sun Devils have also participated at the region meet twice during Lehman's tenure.

In recent times, Dan Fisher, Steve Preston and Jeff Smith have helped create a solid foundation for the Sun Devil men's distance program. Fisher and Preston finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at the '86 Pac-10 Championships.

Out of all these former Arizona State stars, Todd Lewis might rank as the most prolific in Sun Devil cross country annals.

In 1991, Lewis completed his outstanding career as a Sun Devil with an 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Tucson, Ariz. Two years earlier, he recorded four top-10 finishes and later earned All-America acclaim in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Championships. Lewis also set school marks in the steeplechase and 5,000 meters.

During the early days, cross country was used as a training tool for the distance runners of the track and field team. But over time the cross country program has become a vital part of the Arizona State intercollegiate athletic scene.

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