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ASU Cross Country Continues Championship Season Friday
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 11/07/2012
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Nov. 7, 2012

ASU Meet Notes - NCAA RegionalsGet Acrobat Reader

TEMPE -- The Arizona State University cross country teams continue the championship season on Friday as the team heads to the Northwest to take part in the NCAA Regional Championships in Seattle, Wash., on Friday, Nov. 9 The women will open the competition with a 6,000-meter run beginning at 12 p.m. PT at the Jefferson Park Golf Course while the No. 25 men will follow with the 10,000-meter race at 1:15 p.m.  The weekend will mark the last chance for teams to solidify or earn a bid to the NCAA Championships, set to take place in Louisville, Kent., on Saturday, Nov. 17. 


With the nine region races throughout the United States crowning 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 on Sunday.


Since 1998, the Sun Devil women have finished outside of the Top 5 in the West only three times (6th in 1998, 13th in 2011 and 7th last year) while finishing second four times (2000, 2002, 2004, 2005) and third four other times. The men, in that same time, have posted 13 Top 10 finishes (11th in 1998 and 2006) while taking second in 2004 and finishing third twice (1999 and 2005).  


The NCAA West Regionals will feature mostly the same cast of characters that faced off at the Pac-12 Championships, but with the addition of several other schools from the west, though the men’s conference champion Colorado Buffalo will actually be competed at the NCAA Mountain Regional.  The Big West Champions, Cal Poly, and the West Coast Champion Portland are among the additions that will add to the competition at this particular meet. This will mark the first time this season that the men will compete at 10,000 meters.  The race will feature No. 3 Stanford, No. 9 Portland, No. 11 Oregon, No. 25 Arizona State and No. 27 UCLA.


The West Region remains arguably the most competitive division on the women’s side of things and will likely see the most teams represented at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17. The field will feature six of the top 30 teams in the nation, including four squads ranked in the top ten nationally.  No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Arizona, No. 5 Stanford, No. 7 Washington, No. 26 San Francisco and No. 29 UCLA make up the top contenders in the field. 


The ASU men just missed cracking the rankings for the first time this season, collecting votes for the first time in 2012 and sitting as the first team outside of the top 30.  The women’s team did not receive any votes in the most recent USTFCCCA Coaches Poll.  In the regional rankings, the ASU men remained in fifth while the women dropped three spots to 10th in the West Region Rankings.


The Arizona State University men took fourth overall while Shelby Houlihan was eighth for the Sun Devil women as the team opened the championship season with the Pac-12 Conference Championships in Santa Clarita, Calif. Nick Happe paced the way for the Sun Devil men, coming across the line in 11th overall in a time of 23:45 to earn second-team All-Conference honors for the first time in his career. Arizona State finished with 109 points and we were just four points of a podium finish behind third-place Oregon’s 105 points and just 27 points behind second-place Stanford with 82.  Colorado was the team champions with 49 points. Entering the competition, the ASU men were unranked while Oregon was No. 8 in the country and UCLA was No. 15. On the women’s side, Shelby Houlihan took eighth for the second consecutive year for the Sun Devils in a time of 20:26 as she continued her streak of being the top Sun Devil finisher in every race she has competed in at ASU.   She earned second-team All-Conference honors for the second consecutive season.

A LOOK BACK - 2012 NCAA West Regionals

The Sun Devil women’s team finished seventh overall while the men were eighthat last year’s NCAA West Regional. Freshman Shelby Houlihan, a youngster out of Sioux City, Iowa, was the top freshman in the field in the race as she finished 12th overall in 20:36.  Junior Nick Happe paced the men for the third consecutive race as he reeled off an impressive 21st-place finish in what he later dubbed ‘the best cross country race of my life’. Happe covered the course in 29:56 to earn All-Region honors for the first time in his career.


There was no more dynamic freshman in the conference last year that Shelby Houlihan, and the sophomore was honored in 2011 as the Pac-12 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year before following that up with the 2012 Track and Field Newcomer Award as Well - becoming the first student-athlete in conference history to complete the sweep.  Houlihan kickstarted the 2012 campaign by winning the George Kyte Invitational in Flagstaff for her first career collegiate victory as she nearly set the course record with a time of 16:52.4.  Houlihan would go on to pace the team at the Notre Dame Invitational a couple weekends ago with a 13th-place overall finish in 16:58.  Houlihan has been the ASU’s top finisher in every race of her collegiate career thus far, including the Pac-12 Championships.  There, Houlihan matched her finish from last season, taking eighth overall to earn second-team honors.


It took senior Darius Terry one race to pick up where he left off last cross country season before injury limited him towards the end of the season.  Terry was third at the Pac-12 Preview hosted by UCLA in a time of 24:35 and was just five seconds shy of No. 18 Northern Arizona’s Brian Shrader - regarded as one of the top runners in the country - who finished in 24:30 for the eventual team champion Lumberjacks.  Terry followed that up with a strong 22nd-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, helping the team to a fourth-place finish.  Terry was the Sun Devils top runner early last year, winning the George Kyte Classic and posting a strong run at the Roy Griak Invitational and looked prime for a potential All-American season before sturggling at the Pac-12 Championships and sitting out the NCAA West Regionals for precuationary measures.  


Arizona State’s biggest offseason pickup may prove to be University of Kansas graduate transfer Zach Zarda.  An NCAA West Preliminary round 5,000m competitor for the Jayhawks in 2012, Zarda showed what he could bring to the Sun Devils with a strong sixth-place run at the Pac-12 Preview hosted by UCLA in a time of 24:43.  The finish prompted head coach Louie Quintana to say Zarda earned the “game ball” for the race.  Zarda followed that up with a championship-caliber run at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, finishing as the team’s top finisher with a 37th-place finish in sub-24 fashion.  Zarda would go on to be the team’s second runner at the Pac-12 Championships, just missing All-Conference honors with a 15th-place overall finish. 


Last season, Shelby Houlihan made history by being the first person in conference history to sweep the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year Award for both the cross country and track and field seasons.  So who are ASU’s candidates to challenge for that honor this season?  CJ Albertson is a young man that men’s coach Louie Quintana is very excited about. A freshman out of Buchanan High School in Clovis, Calif. (the same school as former ASU great and Olympian Kyle Alcorn and current teammate Macy Bricks) was among the top high school cross country runners in the season last year, qualifying for the Footlocker Nationals despite battling injury through the season. Adriana Olivas is a freshman out of Corona, Calif. (Centennial HS) who is the gritty, hard-working sort of runner that women’s coach Ryan Cole says represents what the program is all about and could make a splash early as well.  Other notable newcomers include Zach Zarda, a 2012 NCAA West Preliminary Qualifier on the track, and Garrett Seawell, the 2012 California State Junior College Cross Country champion.


After advancing to 12 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances from 1998-2009, the Sun Devil women’s cross country team had one of the longest active streaks in the nation before missing out in 2010.  Some might have thought it was an end to the dynasty, but the women regrouped last season to advanced to their 13th championship meet in 14 years and will look to restart the streak with another appearance in 2012. 


Nick Happe was a pleasant surprise for the Sun Devils in 2011 and the senior will be looked upon as a leader this season.  Happe was the team’s top runner through most of last season and saw that come to fruition with an All-West Region finish at the NCAA West Region Championships.  That momentum carried to the track for Happe as he set personal records indoors in the mile, 3000m and 5000m and moved up the ASU all-time top-10 list in all three events.  Happe earned the first cross country All-Conference honors at the Pac-12 Championships a couple weeks ago, finishing 11th overall in a season’s best time of 23:45 to pace the Sun Devils and earn Pac-12 All-Second Team Honors.  The best part of the run? A month prior, Happe had run a time of 25:07 on the exact same course.


In addition to his All-Conference accolades, Happe was honored by the Pac-12 as the conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The award, which is presented in each of the 22 sports the Conference sponsors, was established to honor collegiate student-athletes that are standouts both academically and in their sports discipline. A finance major with a 4.09 cumulative grade point average, Happe was a first team Academic All-Pac-12 honoree in cross country in 2010 and 2011, while also earning first team honors on the track and field all-academic squad. He also was voted a third team CoSIDA Academic All-American last year, an award that is voted on by the nation’s College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Happe’s honor marks the third time in the last five years that a Sun Devil has earned the Pac-12 Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor.  Brandon Bethke earned the award in 2009 while Jenna Kingma did so in 2008.


Coming into his ninth 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 seven 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 four individuals that have collected five NCAA titles, including Kyle Alcorn, who won the indoor 3,000-meter run and the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2008 and more recently, Mason McHenry, who was the 2012 NCAA Indoor 800m champion.


Ryan Cole has built up a reputation as one of the most promising and exciting up-and-coming young coaches in the nation and was named as the head coach for the women’s cross country team for the 2011 campaign as a testament to that.  Now in his second year as head women’s cross country coach, Cole 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 led the ASU women back to the NCAA Championships in 2011 for the 13th time in the last 14 years.


The Arizona State cross country rosters feature a total of 33 student-athletes (16 men, 17 women).  Of that total, there will be 12 brand new faces gracing the Sun Devil uniform.  The women’s squad features five true freshmen in Marcelle Cartledge (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Tory Haberman (Gilbert, Ariz.), Kaitlin Kaluzny (Yakima, Wash.), Adiana Olivas (Corona, Calif.) and Alexia Velarde (Rancho Mirage, Calif.).  Dalanne Bartlette will join the Sun Devils with three years of eligibility after transferring from Shata Community College while Christen Collins will come on as a transfer out of the University of San Diego. On the men’s side, CJ Albertson and Connor Vigil represent the line true freshmen while transfers Jeff Bickert (RS-Fr./Pleasant Hill, Calif/Cal Poly SLO), Garrett Seawell (Jr./Sacremento, Calif./American River JC) and Zach Zarda (Sr./Shawnee, Kan./Kansas) will debut for ASU this year.  In addition to the new faces, redshirt freshmen Ryan Herson, Daniel Wong and Heyden Wooff could all contribute for the men this year in their first action with the Sun Devils.


Both the men’s and women’s rosters are loaded with underclassmen but both squads will look to the seniors to help lead the way.  Coming into the year, Darius Terry and Nick Happe are far and away the top returning runners on the roster and among the top returners in the conference with Doug Smith expected to make contributions as well.  For the women, two local products in Hailey Hanna and Natasa Vulic are the lone seniors, both walk-on’s who have been praised by Cole for doing everything necessary to get to this point and providing the model work ethic for the younger women to follow. 


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 teams have taken that task seriously and will field eight Arizona natives on the 2012 roster, several of whom will be expected to play a large role on this year’s team.  Mention as already been made of Hailey Hanna (Mesa, Ariz.) and Natasa Vulic (Phoenix, Ariz.) for the women.  But the team also welcomes freshmen Marcella Cartledge (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Tory Haberman (Gilbert, Ariz.) this season in addition to junior transfer Christen Collins (Phoenix, Ariz.). Redshirt freshman Daniel Wong (Tucson, Ariz.), redshirt sophomore Garrett Baker-Slama (Tempe, Ariz.) and redshirt senior Josh Walker (Chandler, Ariz.) are some others that could play a pivotal part as the season progresses for the men. 


Not only is the ASU cross country team looking to get things accomplished on the athletic side of things in 2012, 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 2012-13 academic calendar.  Barrett, which has been named among the top honors colleges in the nation, enrolls nearly 40 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 (Sr.), Marcella Cartledge (Fr.), Karlee Owens (Jr.) and Kayla Springford (So.) on the women’s team and Garrett Baker-Slama (So.), Daniel Wong (Rs-Fr.) and Nick Happe (Sr.) for the men.


Nick Happe earned USTFCCCA All-West Honors as the ASU men came painstakingly shy of an NCAA Championship qualification last season.  The team took eighth at the NCAA West Regional Championships after a disappointing last-place finish at the Pac-12 Championship just weeks earlier.  The team opened strong on the heels of Darisu Terry’s individual victory at the George Kyte Classic in the season opener.  The team rode that momentum to a fourth-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational. Terry was fifth at that event to lead the team before injuries slowed him down over the rest of the season, eventually knocking him out of competition at the regional meet.  


A young Arizona State women’s squad advanced to the 13th NCAA Championship appearance in 14 years for the program on the heels of freshman phenom Shelby Houlihan. Houlihan was named the Pac-12 Cross Country Newcomer of the year follow All-Conference and All-Region finishes on the year.  The women took sixth at the Pac-12 Conference championships and followed that with a seventh place finish at the NCAA West Regional Championships to earn an at-large bid the the NCAA Championships. 

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