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Cross Country Heads to Furman University for NCAA Pre-Meet Saturday
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 10/10/2001
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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Oct. 10, 2001

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This Week --
Arizona State's top cross country runners will be back in action this weekend as the fourth-ranked women's team and the 15th-ranked men's team heads to Greenville, S.C., for the Furman Invitational Saturday, Oct. 13. The competition also serves as the NCAA Pre-Meet, a preview for the 2001 NCAA Championships hosted by Furman University, Monday, Nov. 19. Saturday, there will be two men's and women's pre-meet races with 37 teams in each. The women's 6,000-meter NCAA Pre-Meet races are scheduled for 10:45 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. Eastern time, while the men's 8,000-meter NCAA Pre-Meet races are scheduled to begin at 11:55 a.m. and 12:35 a.m. Eastern time.

The Field --
Racing in a championship-style atmosphere, the Sun Devils will meet the top men's and women's squads in the nation at the Furman Cross Country Course Saturday. Among those teams will be Pac-10 foes Arizona (women No. 9, men No. 24), Oregon (men No. 18), Stanford (men and women No. 2), UCLA (women No. 18), Washington (women No. 16) and Washington State, as well as Colorado (men and women No. 1) and numerous top-25 teams.

Sun Devils in the Polls --
The ASU men and women remained in their same positions for the second week in a row, with the women tied for fourth with BYU in the FinishLynx National Poll and the men ranked 15th in the MONDO National Poll. For this week's complete national rankings, see page two of this release.

Last Year --
Last year's NCAA Pre-Meet at Iowa State saw the Sun Devil women put together one of their best meet showings under head coach Walt Drenth, placing fourth among 56 of the nation's top teams. ASU, who eventually placed a school-record sixth at the NCAA Championships, finished with 241 points, behind only BYU (117 points), Stanford (151) and Wisconsin (189). Like she did at the NCAA Championships, Lisa Aguilera placed fifth in 21:05.90 to pace the Sun Devils, followed by Cynthia Atencio (47th) and Mary Duerbeck (52). ASU's men also performed well at the meet, placing 28th with 729 points. Colorado won the men's title with 64 points, followed by Northern Arizona (215) and Stanford (255). Leading the way for the men were Garrett Jensen (56th) and Juan Reyes (95th).

Last Time Out --
Stanford captured the women's team title and New Mexico took home the men's crown as ASU's "B" teams hosted the Arizona State Invitational at Freestone Park in Gilbert, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 5. Stanford's Laura Turner won the women's 5,000-meter race in 18:04, and was joined by four of her teammates finishing in the top six. The Cardinal tallied 19 points, followed by UCLA with 81 and Cal State Northridge with 82. New Mexico runners Matt Gonzales and Chris Orrell finished 1-2, respectively, on the men's 8,000-meter course. New Mexico finished with 31 team points, followed by UCLA (56) and Central Arizona College (77). Resting their top runners, ASU "B" teams finished fourth on the women's side and sixth on the men's side. The Sun Devil women were led by seniors Kristin McFerron (10th) and Nikki Simmons (12th). The highest finisher for ASU's men was senior Charles Sharpe who placed 19th.

Women Win '01 Roy Griak Crown --
For second time in three years, ASU's women's cross country team won the 6,000m race title at the University of Minnesota's Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course, Saturday, Sept. 29. The women combined for 109 points at the prestigious annual meet, while the ASU men tallied 267 points to place eighth in the men's 8,000m competition. Both ASU teams had two of the top three finishers in each race, as seniors Lisa Aguilera and Kelly MacDonald took second and third on the women's side, while sophomore Juan Reyes and junior Fasil Bizuneh finished two-three, respectively, on the men's side. ASU's women, who won their first Roy Griak title in 1999, were led by Aguilera's third-straight runner-up finish at the meet.

Returning All-Americans --
In ASU cross country history, six individuals have earned All-America honors, three women and three men. The 2001 squad features half of that contingent in Lisa Aguilera and Kelly MacDonald from the women's side, and Fasil Bizuneh on the men's side. Lisa Aguilera, Senior - 2000 All-American (5th place), 2000 First-Team Verizon Academic All-American, 2000 Women's Cross Country Pac-10 and West Region Athlete of the Year, ASU Female Student Athlete of the Year (2000-01), two-time First-Team All-Pac-10 (1999-00). Fasil Bizuneh, Junior - 1999 All-American (19th place), First-Team All-Pac-10 (1999). Kelly MacDonald, Senior - 1999 All-American (36th place), First-Team All-Pac-10 (1999), ASU's Heather Farr Award Winner (2000-01).

Underclassmen Making an Impact --
ASU has benefited from the leadership of its returning All-Americans, but the team's underclassmen have also had an impact on the Sun Devils' early success. Sophomore Juan Reyes has already shown All-America potential, placing second among 311 runners in the Roy Griak Invitational, one spot ahead of Bizuneh. Reyes also won the UC Irvine-Asics Invitational individual men's title in the Sun Devils' season opener. Also on the men's side, true freshman JJ Duke was ASU's second highest finisher at the UC Irvine Invitational (sixth) and third highest finisher at the Roy Griak (54th). On the women's side, true freshman Desiree Davila has made the jump from prep competition to the collegiate ranks with ease, making her early mark as ASU's third best finisher at UC Irvine (15th) and the fifth best finisher at the Roy Griak (50th).

Head Coach Walt Drenth --
In his sixth year at the helm of the Arizona State cross country program, Walt Drenth continues to take the Sun Devils to unprecedented heights. Last year Drenth was named the USTCA West Region Women's Coach of the Year and for the second-straight season earned Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year honors. Drenth has guided ASU to school record conference, regional and national finishes (including the teams' first four NCAA team appearances), while producing three All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans. 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 nine-time conference coach of the year and four-time district coach of the year, and has led nine squads to the NCAA Championships. Included in Drenth's ASU coaching staff are graduate assistant Corey Ihmels and volunteer assistant Michelle Borgert.

Academic Success --
Sun Devil teams have excelled not only on the cross country course, but in the classroom as well. Last season, for the fourth straight time, ASU's women were named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association. Also, both teams were honored for having the highest collective team GPA among large men's and women's sports at ASU (2000-01). For good measure, 33 athletes were named ASU Maroon and Gold Scholars. Earning Verizon Academic All-America (Fall/Winter At-Large) honors in 2000 were Lisa Aguilera and Garrett Jensen. Aguilera was named to the women's first-team, while Jensen was named to the men's second-team. Aguilera and Jensen also earned first-team Verizon Academic All-District honors, as did Mary Duerbeck.

2000 Season Summary -- ASU's women's team enjoyed the best season in school history, placing sixth at nationals (266 points) and second at both regionals and the Pac-10 Championships. Lisa Aguilera became the third woman in ASU history to earn All-America honors with a fifth-place school-record finish at the NCAA Championships. Aguilera won the women's individual title at regionals and was also the Pac-10 runner-up, both school record finishes. For her efforts, Aguilera was named the Pac-10 and USTCA West Region Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Also honored was head coach Walt Drenth, named the Pac-10 and USTCA West Region Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year. On the men's side, ASU finished the 2000 season ranked 24th nationally, but failed to receive an at-large bid to nationals. The men finished fourth at the Pac-10 meet and fifth at regionals. Earning Academic All-America honors for the Sun Devils were Aguilera (first-team) and Garrett Jensen (second-team). And for the fourth straight year, ASU's women's squad was named an Academic All-America team by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association.

ASU Hosts 2001 Pac-10 Championships --
Arizona State will host this year's Pac-10 Cross Country Championships, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001, at the Pavilion Lakes Golf Course in Scottsdale, Ariz. The men's 8,000m race is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., while the women's 6,000m race will follow at 11 a.m. The meet was originally scheduled to be held at ASU's home course, Freestone Park in Gilbert, Ariz.

Aguilera and MacDonald Featured in Trackwire's "In the Chute" --
ASU's dynamic duo, Lisa Aguilera and Kelly MacDonald, are featured on Trackwire.com's latest "In the Chute" interview session. ASU's top seniors talk about their performance at last month's Roy Griak Invitational, training in the Arizona heat, how the ASU cross country program has evolved during their collegiate careers and more. Go to www.trackwire.com for the Q & A session with the Sun Devil harriers.

Up Next --
The championship season is just around the corner, as ASU will take next week off to prepare for for the Pac-10 Championships which it will host, Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Pavilion Lakes Golf Course in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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