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Cross Country Prepares for Pac-10 Championships
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 06/21/1999
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October 27, 1998

Saturday, Oct. 31-- Pac-10 Championships
Alton Baker Park, Eugene, Ore.
Noon (MST): Women's Championships -- 5K
12:30 pm (MST): Men's Championships -- 8K

This Week: Arizona State brings its most competitive teams since at least the early 1990s, if not ever, to the Pac-10 Championships in Eugene, Ore. Saturday, Oct. 31. The Sun Devils are ranked 15th in the latest women's poll and while the men haven't cracked the top 25 this year, they've been rated as high as 31st in the nation. An unprecedented infusion of talent is largely responsible for the turnaround in Tempe that has been orchestrated by third-year head coach Walt Drenth. Of the 14 runners that will compete for the Sun Devils this weekend, only one is a junior or senior. ASU's men will field five true freshmen and two sophomores. The Sun Devil women will go with three true freshmen, three sophomores and one senior.

Sun Devils Ranked: For the first time in Arizona State history, the women's cross country squad is ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation. ASU bolted into the poll at number 15 after its sixth-place finish at the Bob Timmons Invitational in Lawrence, Kan. ASU has remained in the poll since. The 32-team field in Lawrence included nine ranked squads at the time of the meet, three of whom ASU defeated. ASU's men have received votes for three of the last four polls and its one vote would give ASU a No. 34 ranking.

The Field: For the first time in 25 years, the premier cross country conference in the nation will determine its champions in a location other than Stanford. Oregon hosts the championships this year and they will be rotated among the member schools each year. Three of the top five teams in the nation -- No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 Oregon and No. 5 Arizona -- headline the men's field. Six Pac-10 women's teams are ranked in the FinishLynx Top 25 led by No. 2 Stanford, followed by No. 6 Arizona, No. 12 Washington, No. 15 ASU, No. 16 Oregon and No. 23 UCLA. The Cardinal are the defending champions in both meets.

Next Meet: Saturday, Nov. 15 -- NCAA West Regional Championships; Fresno, Calif.

Last Meet: Arizona State last competed at the ASU Invitational in Gilbert, Ariz., Oct. 16. Both the Sun Devil men and women finished second in their only home meet of the season. Stanford captured the men's title with UCLA bringing home the women's crown. ASU's Priscilla Hein finished second to lead the women while the freshman combination of Juan Chavira, Fasil Bizuneh and Ron Buchanan placed 8-9-10 on the men's side.

Earning Resect: Arizona State earned the respect of the national cross country community with a solid showing Oct. 10 at the Bill Timmons Invitational at Rim Rock Farm, the site of the 1998 NCAA Cross Country Championships. ASU's women finished sixth in a field of 32 teams that included nine ranked squads. The Sun Devil women defeated No. 9 Colorado, No. 15 Oregon, No. 17 Minnesota and No. 21 South Florida. The men finished 16th out of 32, including 14 ranked teams. ASU's men defeated No. 11 Northern Arizona, No. 20 Washington State and No. 23 Illinois State. Stanford won both the men's and women's titles.

Head Coach Walt Drenth: Veteran distance coach Walt Drenth is in his third year as Head Cross Country Coach at Arizona State University, after spending the previous six years (1990-95) at the College of William & Mary. Drenth led the Tribe to five Colonial Athletic Association cross country titles and one District II crown in 1990. He was named the CAA Cross Country Coach of the Year on five occasions and also tabbed as District II Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1995. While at William & Mary, Drenth led his harriers to three top 20 NCAA finishes (15th-1990, 18th-1994, 17th-1995). Prior to his stint at William & Mary, Drenth was the head cross country coach at his alma mater, Central Michigan, from 1985-90. During his stint at Central Michigan, he was named District IV Coach of the Year in 1989 after leading CMU to the District IV title. He led the Chippewas to two Mid-American Conference titles and named MAC Coach of the Year in both of those seasons, 1988 & 1989.

Youthful Exuberance: Arizona State's cross country roster is littered with freshmen and sophomores and it is those freshmen and sophomores who, for the most part, are leading ASU cross country to new heights. Of the 14 Sun Devils who have competed this season for the men's squad, six are freshmen and five are sophomores. The only upperclassmen to compete are senior Vondre Armour and junior Ez Hernandez. On the women's side, five freshmen, six sophomores and one senior have competed for ASU this year.

Priscilla Hein -- The Veteran: Senior Priscilla Hein (Prescott, Ariz.) is the only upperclassmen for ASU's men or women who has run in more than one race this season. More than that, Hein is the undisputed leader of ASU's women's squad, having led the Sun Devil women in all four races she has competed in, including a second-place finish at the ASU Invitational. Hein redshirted last season after leading ASU in 1996, when she finished 25th at the Pac-10 meet and 22nd at Regionals, the highest finish by a Sun Devil at regionals in four years. 1996 was Hein's first year at Arizona State after she was a two-time junior college All-American at Yavapai JC, whom she led to the 1994 NJCAA national title.

Sensational Six: Six freshmen have competed for ASU's men this season and they have led the way for the Sun Devils. In fact, ASU's top five finishers at both the Bob Timmons Invitational and ASU Invitational were all freshmen. Juan Chavira led the Sun Devils in three of five races this season, finishing 7th at the California Irvine Invitational and third at the Sundodger Invitational. Fasil Bizuneh led ASU in Kansas, finishing 39th. At the Bob Timmons Invitational, in a 32-team field that included 14 top-25 squads, ASU fielded five of the top 18 freshmen at the meet and two of the top 3. Of the 51 freshmen who competed in the meet, Bizuneh was 1st, Chavira 3rd, Ron Buchanan 10th, Isaiah Festa 11th and Kris Alexander 18th. Only 13 freshmen finished in the upper-half of the 259-person race and four were from ASU. The only other schools to have multiple freshmen finish in the upper-half of the race were Arizona, Iona and N.C. State, each placing two freshmen in the top 130. Add to the mix Joe Agostinelli, who was in ASU's top 8 at both the Cal Irvine Invitational and Sundodger Invitational, and ASU has six freshmen who are among the top nine runners on the squad.

Pac-10 History: Arizona State has not enjoyed much success at the Pac-10 Championships. Its men's team first competed at the meet in 1984 and its best finish was a 5th-place showing in 1986 when it scored 106 points, also a school-best. ASU has finished 7th or lower in 11 of the 14 Pac-10 meets it has competed in including six straight 8th-place finishes. ASU did put back-to-back sixth-place finishes together in 1990-91. On the women's side, ASU has finished ninth in each of the last three years. The Sun Devils best showing at the Pac-10 meet, which has been held since 1986, was 4th at the 1987 meet. ASU's lowest point total was the 121 it scored in the inaugural meet in 1986 (5th-place finish). ASU has finished 7th or lower in 9 of the 12 meets and its best finish of this decade came in 1991 when ASU finished fifth.

Bites: Arizona State's best women's runner from 1997, Mary Duerbeck, is redshirting this year after surgery on her left foot (navicular) ... Arizona State's best finish at the Pac-10 Championships was a fifth-place showing by the men in 1986 and a fourth-place showing by the women in 1987 ... only 4 of ASU's 14 runners this weekend competed for the Sun Devils at the Pac-10s last year.

Men's Probable Lineups

Name              Yr.   Hometown (Last School)             Notes   
Kris Alexander    Fr.   Franklin, Ind. (Franklin)          Finished 7th in Indiana HS 1600m; ran 25:56 at ASU Invitational
Fasil Bizuneh     Fr.   Indianapolis, Ind. (Ben Davis)     5th at 1997 Foot Locker XC Nationals; 2 top 10 finishes this year
Ron Buchanan      Fr.   Santa Maria, Calif. (Ragetti)      7th at 1997 Foot Locker XC Nationals; 10th at ASU Invite in 25:17
David Burke       So.   San Diego, Calif. (Torrey Pines)   26:09 at Cal Irvine a personal best; 53rd at 1997 Pac-10s
Juan Chavira      Fr.   Hanford, Calif. (Hanford)          ASU's top finisher in three of 5 meets; All-California in XC & T/F
Isaiah Festa      Fr.   Morro Bay, Calif. (Morro Bay)      3rd at 1997 Foot Locker XC Nationals; 2 top 20 finishes this year
Brandon Strong    So.   Phoenix, Ariz. (Paradise Valley)   25:37 at Sundodger a personal best; 54th at 1997 Pac-10s

Women's Probable Lineups

Name              Yr.   Hometown (Last School)             Notes
Lisa Aguilera     Fr.   Peoria, Ariz. (Centennial)         Arizona 1997 state champion in XC, 800, 1600 & 3200
Priscilla Hein    Sr.   Dewey, Ariz. (Yavapai)             Returns from redshirting last year; finished 25th at '96 Pac-10s
Kelly MacDonald   So.   Tualatin, Ore. (Tualitin)          18:12 & 7th place at ASU Invite both career-bests; 39th at 1997 Pac-10s
Amy Maciasek      So.   Arden Hills, Minn. (Mounds View)   18:37 at Sundodger Invitational a career-best; 51st at 1997 Pac-10s
Kristin McFerron  Fr.   St Charles, Mo. (St. Charles)      Ran twice this season; St. Louis Post-Dispatch Female Athlete of the Year
Nicole Simmons    So.   Glendale, Ariz. (Park College)     Season-best 18:30 at Sundodger; All-state at Peoria HS
Cody Sohn         Fr.   Carmel, Ind. (Carmel)              Season-best 18:11 at Sundodger; All-Indiana in XC & T/F

Pac-10 Championships
1997 Review at Stanford Golf Course

Men's Teams

1. Stanford       33
2. Oregon         86
3. WSU            88
4. UCLA          103
5. Arizona       113
6. Washington    116
7. California    146
8. ASU           195

Men's Individuals

 1. Bernard Lagat, WSU          23:59
 2. Meb. Keflezighi, UCLA       24:07
 3. Nathan Nutter, Stanford     24:18
 4. Bradley Hauser, Stanford    24:31
 5. Peter Gilmore, Cal          24:34
28. Matt Repak, ASU             25:50
32. Ari Rodriguez, ASU          26:10
41. Steve Riggs, ASU            26:33
42. Ben Ervington, ASU          26:34
52. Andy Carusetta, ASU         28:02
53. David Burke, ASU            28:22
54. Brandon Strong, ASU         29:11

Women's Teams

1. Stanford       36
2. Oregon         72
2. Washington     72
4. UCLA          127
5. Arizona       148
6. USC           153
7. WSU           163
8. California    183
9. ASU           190

Women's Individuals

 1. Amy Skieresz, Arizona       16:40
 2. Marie Davis, Oregon         17:13
 3. Julia Stamps, Stanford      17:13
 4. Mary Cobb, Stanford         17:21
 5. Sarah Glynn, Stanford       17:25
14. Mary Duerbeck, ASU          17:57
39. Kelly MacDonald, ASU        18:54
40. Allison Had, ASU            19:00
48. Shannon Houseman, ASU       19:23
49. Amanda Markland, ASU        19:24
51. Amy Maciasek, ASU           19:36
54. Kristin Hawking, ASU        19:42

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