Oct. 25, 2011
TEMPE-- The first-ever conference title of the Pac-12 era will be decided Saturday in Phoenix as Arizona State is set to host the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz. Nine men’s teams and 12 women’s teams will vie for the honor of being the first conference champion in the conference formerly known as the Pac-10, which now plays host to squads from the University of Colorado and the University of Utah. The men’s 8,000-meter race will kick off the competition at 9 a.m. MST and the women’s 6,000-meter run will follow at 10 a.m. The awards ceremony is slated to take place at 11 a.m.
Territorial Cup Series
The State Farm Territorial Cup Series returns for it third year during the 2011-12 academic season and points are up for grabs this Saturday between Arizona State and Arizona. Based upon who finishes ahead of the other at the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, one point will be awarded to the winning team’s overall total with two points available (one for the men and one for the women). Saturday’s matchup will be the first points available this season towards the annual award
Previewing the Field: Men
Perhaps no sport in the new Pac-12 conference is as affected by the addition of the new members as cross country. The men’s side of things welcomes No. 6 Colorado to the mix, a perennial national powerhouse and dark horse to win this year’s national crown as well. The Colorado men have won three national titles in the last decade (‘01, ‘04, ‘06) and are looking for another one this season. They will have to fight their way through No. 4 Stanford on Saturday though in what could be the matchup of the weekend. No 20 UCLA, No. 23 Oregon and No. 25 Arizona State also sit in the national top 25 this week and will be looking to mix things up as well. Look for runners Chris Derrick and Jake Rielly (Stanford), Lawi Lalang (Arizona), Luke Puskedra (Oregon), Joe Bosshard and Andy Wacker (Colorado) to make a go at the first-team All-Conference honors with ASU’s own Darius Terry and Nick Happe in the mix as well.
Previewing the Field: Women
Perhaps the most cutthroat competition in all the conference championships this weekend will come from the Pac-12 women’s race. Five of the top 11 teams in the nation and and six of the top 16 teams will be duking it out for the team crown and none have established themselves as a favorite quite yet. The No. 2 Washington women are riding the momentum from a victory at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational two weekends ago, but the No. 5 Arizona, No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 Cal, No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Colorado teams all will want to make their own case for the conference title. Jordan Hasay (Oregon), Deborah Maier (Cal), Jen Bergman and Elvin Kibet (Arizona), Kathy Kroeger (Stanford), Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp (Colorado) will be right up at the front. ASU newcomer Shelby Houlihan could be the top freshman in the field.
Meet History: Pac-12 Championships
The men will be competing in the Pac-12 Championships for the 28th time this year while the women will run for the 26th time since the Sun Devils joined the Conference in 1979, but began competing in the cross country event in 1984 and 1986, respectively. While neither team has won the Conference crown, both have come close as the men have finished as the meet runner-up twice (the last coming in 2004) and the women have done so seven times (the last coming in 2006). Overall, the men have finished the Top 3 four times while the women have done so 10 times. On an individual basis, only one Sun Devil has ever been crowned the Pac-12 Champion and that was Amy Hastings, who won the race at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in 2004.
Last year, Ben Engelhardt earned second-team All-Conference honors at the conference meet, placing 14th overall and leading the team to a fifth-place finish. Lindsey Prescott was the top woman last year, also earning second-team All-Conference honors by finishing ninth at the conference championship in Seattle as the team finished seventh overall.
Last Time Out
In what may have been the most competitive non-championship race in recent memory, the ASU squads competed at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational two weekends ago in Madison. Both sides of the field featured 20 of the top 30 teams in the country at the time. The ASU men were paced by Nick Happe’s 40th-place finish to a 16th place team finish, beating five ranked teams in the process. Darius Terry was plagued by some back spasms early in the race but still fought back to a top-75 finish in an absolutely stacked field. Shelby Houlihan established herself as one of the top freshmen in the country, finishing 40th as well and leading the team to a 26th-place finish.
Oh, Happe Day
Nick Happe’s race in Wisconsin represented a breakout race for the junior, pacing the team for the first time in his career. Happe was eighth among Pac-12 runners and, more importantly, was able to step up when the team needed it after Darius Terry found himself plagued with back spasms about 1,000 meters into the race.
For the Record
The ASU team win at the GCU Invitational marked just the third time in school history that the program has won more than one meet in the same season, having also won the George Kyte Classic in the 2011 opener in Flagstaff, Ariz. The only other times the ASU men have accomplished the feat was in 2005 and 1993.
The wait to witness some of ASU’s prime recruits in action ended at the Roy Griak Invitational with several student-athletes making their collegiate debuts. Shelby Houlihan looked to live up to much of the hype, as the Iowa state prep star paced the Sun Devils en route to a 24th place overall finish among some of the top competition in the country in her first race in the Maroon and Gold. Fellow freshman Macy Bricks took home 71st and was the fourth ASU harrier across the line, scoring points in her debut as well.
Arizona State University will host the first-ever Pac-12 Conference Championships on Oct. 29 in Litchfield Park, Ariz., at the Wigwam Golf Resort. With the addition of the University of Colorado and the University of Utah, the conference formally known as the Pac-10 will open its championship season with the cross country championships hosted by the Sun Devils. More meet information can be found by visiting TheSunDevils.com cross country home page and clicking the banner link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
Redshirt junior Darius Terry opened up the 2011 campaign with a dominating performance at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, nabbing the individual title for the first time in Sun Devil history at the competition. Clocking a time of 25:38.8 over the 8,000-meter course, Terry crossed the line about 17 seconds better than his closest competitor and keyed a dominating Sun Devil performance that saw the team capture their second title in George Kyte history. Also notable about the win is the fact that it was the first time since 2001 that a member of the Sun Devil men’s team has won an individual title, quick the accomplishment with names like Aaron Aguayo, Kyle Alcorn and Brandon Bethke making their way through the ranks during that span. Just a couple months removed from being the first All-American at 1,500 meters during the track and field season, Terry looks like he may be ready to make the jump into the national spotlight as the season wears on.
Flying High as a Kyte
With the Sun Devil cross country team looking to start moving back towards the top after a rebuilding 2010 campaign, the future is looking bright after the results of the George Kyte Classic. The Sun Devil men’s team captured their 16 overall team time behind Darius Terry’s individual crown while the women’s harriers nabbed a solid second-place finish without some of their top runners.
A Reforming of the Guard
The coaching structure for the 2011 season will feature a slight shift as Louie Quintana will return for his eighth season as head coach for the Arizona State cross country program and will oversee the men’s team. Ryan Cole, an assistant coach to Quintana for the past three seasons, will assume the role of head coach for the ASU women’s squad. Quintana will also see over the men’s middle and long distance runners during the track and field season while Cole will be the assistant coach for the women’s middle and long distances.
Coming into his eighth season as a head coach for Arizona State cross country, Louie Quintana has put together quite the program since taking over in August 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 Brandon Bethke who placed seventh nationally at the 2009 NCAA Championships. 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 3,000-meter run and the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2008.
No Lump of Cole
Ryan Cole has built up a reputation as one of the most promising and exciting up-and-coming young coaches in the nation and being named as the head coach for the women’s cross country team for the 2011 campaign is a testament to that. The first-year coach began working with the Arizona State program during the 2007-08 campaign and had served as an assistant ever since. In that time, Cole worked with the ASU women’s distance teams serving under Coach Louie Quintana while also handling many of the daily administrative aspects of the Arizona State program and working with the management of home meets. Cole has been an active recruiter during his tenure, bring in a solid class of athletes for the current season, and will be a welcomed addition to the ASU coaching staff.
Welcome to the Show
The Arizona State cross country rosters feature a total of 34 student-athletes (18 men, 16 women). Of that total, there will be 16 new faces gracing the Sun Devil uniform. The women’s squad features eight freshmen in Macy Bricks (Clovis, Calif.), Taylor Conway (Brookfield, Wis.), Shaina Corbin (Ashland, Ohio), Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa), Mackenzie Maki (Wichita, Kan.), Carly Paracholski (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), Payton Schutte (Portland, Ore.) and Kayla Springford (Dracut, Mass.). On the men’s side, another eight student-athletes will don the maroon and gold for the first time in 2011 in Garrett Baker-Slama (Phoenix, Ariz.), Andy Cannata (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Domenic D’Acquisto (Redding, Calif.), Andrew Hagler (Chandler, Ariz.), Ryan Herson (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Jesus Molina (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), Daniel Wong (Tucson, Ariz.) and Heyden Wooff (Camarillo, Calif.).
With the large amount of new faces on both cross country teams this season, the seniors on both squads will provide some valuable experience to the youngsters. That being said, both teams are still quite young across the board and senior leadership is at a premium. On the women’s side, just two student-athletes return in 2011 as seniors in Lindsay Prescott and Kauren Tarver. Prescott established herself as one of the top runners in the conference last season and Tarver has been a staple on the travel team throughout most of her career at ASU. On the men’s side, Cameron Liston, Daniel Lovell and Brian Pierre represent the lone threesome of seniors. Lovell has already established himself as one of the prominent distance runners in Sun Devil history and has taken on a captain’s role early in the season.
They Run Fast...And They’re Smart
The women’s cross country team was one of five ASU teams to post a 100 percent four-year Graduation Success Rate (GSR). That tally was tops among the conference.
A Local Affair
One of the keys to building one of the top running programs in nation is the ability to recruit well from the areas around you. The Sun Devil men’s team has taken the task seriously and will field seven Arizona natives on the 2011 roster, several of whom will be expected to play a large role on this year’s team. Senior Daniel Lovell hails from Anthem, Ariz., and will be among the teams top runners this season in addition to his role as a senior on the team. Garrett Baker-Slama (Tempe, Ariz.), Matt Boughton (Phoenix, Ariz.), Cameron Liston (Chandler, Ariz.) and Daniel Wong (Tucson, Ariz.) are some others that could play a pivotal part as the season progresses.
Not only is the ASU cross country team looking to get things accomplished on the athletic side of things in 2011, but they have also started to put in work in the classroom as well. Four members of the Sun Devil women’s squad and three men will take classes as part of Barrett, The Honors College, during the 2011-12 academic calendar. Barrett, which has been named among the top honors colleges in the nation, enrolls nearly 30 Sun Devil student-athletes in its highly selective program with almost a quarter coming from the cross country programs. The members representing the cross country team in the honors college consist of Natasa Vulic (Jr.), Catherine Loden (Jr.), Karlee Owens (So.) and Kayla Springford (Fr.) on the women’s team and Garrett Baker-Slama (Fr.), Andrew Hagler (Fr.) and Nick Happe (Jr.) for the men.
In The Rankings
Even with the men’s team’s solid finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invite, the men slid a couple positions to No. 25 in the most recent USTFCCCA coaches poll. The Arizona State women remain unranked and not receiving votes.
2010: Season in Review – Men
Ben Engelhardt took 51st at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., narrowly missing All-American accolades in his final race as a Sun Devil. Engelhardt paced Arizona State program throughout the season, guiding the squad to a fifth-place finish at both the NCAA West Regional Championships and the Pac-10 Conference Championships. Engelhardt earned second-team All-Conference honors at the conference meet, placing 14th overall. The Arizona State men won the team title at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson early in the season and remained consistent as the year wore on as they made a push for a bid at the NCAA Championships.
2010: Season in Review – Women
A young Arizona State women’s squad competed hard throughout the season, clocking strong team results in finishing second at both the George Kyte Invitational and the Dave Murray Invitational to start out the season. Lindsay Prescott paced the team throughout the year, taking home a 17th-place finish at the NCAA Pre-National Meet as well as leading the Sun Devils across the line at the Pac-10 Championships and NCAA West Regional Championships. The ASU women took home seventh at the conference championships and 13th at the regional competition.