April 11, 2013
TEMPE - Dual meets are a rarity these days in the collegiate track and field circles, with the Arizona State University team only typically competing in one per year in the annual Dual In The Desert against Arizona and Northern Arizona prior to the championship season. The Sun Devils will change it up a bit this weekend as the eighth-ranked women and 17th-ranked men head to Baton Rouge, La., to take on perennial powerhouse LSU and several other top-notch programs in a dual format competition on Saturday, April 13 at the Battle on the Bayou. Saturday’s action will begin at 1:45 p.m. CT following a brief opening ceremony, while the morning session is set to begin at 10 a.m. with the first field events of the meet. The competition will mark ASU’s first true “road” competition as a team after spending three of the first four weeks of the outdoor season competing at home.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
• The Sun Devil track team returns four first-team outdoor All-Americans (Christabel Nettey) and two second-team All-Americans (Clarke and Bryan McBride)
• Jordan Clarke remains on the Bowerman Watch List (track and field’s version of the Heisman) and has won four consecutive NCAA Championships in the shot put, including the 2013 indoor title
• The ASU women finished in the top 10 at the indoor championships for the first time since 2009 while the men posted a top-25 finish for the eighth time in the last 10 years
• The Arizona State women currently have four student-athletes ranked No. 1 in the country in their respective events: Christabel Nettey (long jump), Anna Jelmini (discus) and Chelsea Cassulo (hammer)
• Clarke and Nettey swept the MPSF Athlete of the Meet awards on the men’s and women’s sides while Greg Kraft was named the MPSF Men’s Coach of the year for the second consecutive season
• Two of ASU’s longest-standing school records were dropped this past weekend at the Sun Angel Classic, with Christabel Nettey knocking off Jacinta Bartholomew’s 24-year old school record in the long jump and Shelby Houlihan taking the reins in the 1,500-meter run in unseeding Priscilla Hein’s 14-year old record as well.
• Chelsea Cassulo was named the USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Week following her school-record setting performance in the hammer throw at the ASU Invite two weekend’s ago
• Cassulo, Nettey and Ryan Herson (5k) have all been named Pac-12 Athletes of the Week with their performances this season
• The Sun Devil men and women currently have 19 student-athletes and three relays ranked in the top-25 nationally this season
PREVIEWING THE FIELD
The Battle in the Bayou will be comprised of squads for ASU, LSU, Mississippi State, Connecticut and Penn State. Four teams will compete in the women’s competition, led by the No. 5 Lady Tigers and the No. 8 Sun Devils while Penn State and Mississippi State remain unranked. The men’s competition will feature No. 10 LSU, No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 17 Arizona State and No. 19 Penn State. Teams in both genders will be competing with an alternate scoring format of 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 with the top two athletes for each team earning points in each individual event. The scoring format for relays is 9-7-6-5 with just one relay per team allowed to score in both the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays. LSU will provide live stats from the competition, which can be found at the following link: http://www.lsusports.net/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=5200&SPID=2172&SPSID=27862
A LOOK BACK: 34th SUN ANGEL CLASSIC
The eighth-ranked ASU women’s track and field team lit things up at the 34th Annual Sun Angel Classic. Christabel Nettey set a new school record in the long jump (6.75m/22-01.75) while Shelby Houlihan set the new ASU 1,500-meter record (4:13.64). Keia Pinnick set a new career-best in the heptathlon with a score of 5,791 points at the Jim Click Combined Events. All four student-athletes - alongside Devan Spann, Will Henry, Ryan Milus set the nation’s seventh-fastest time in 39.65.
THROWING THEIR WEIGHT
Over the past 11 years, David Dumble has continued to bring in top talent and build the throws program at Arizona State, which has collected 15 total national titles. ASU continues to build on that legacy as Jordan Clarke successfully defending his indoor title in the shot put and has now won four straight NCAA Championships in the event. During the 2013 indoor season, Arizona State was the only program at the Division I level to have four athletes ranked in the top-26 nationally in all four different throwing events. The outdoor season has gotten off to a strong start for ASU as well with Chelsea Cassulo the current NCAA leader in the hammer throw, Clarke ranked seventh in the hammer throw and 18th in the discus while Anna Jelmini sits first in the discus and eighth in the shot put.
THROWING MORE WEIGHT
Ryan Whiting could do. Clarke has a chance to win five consecutive NCAA shot put titles by the conclusion of his senior year. The reigning NCAA Champion indoors and outdoors, Clarke won his fourth-straight NCAA title at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a mark of 20.50m (67-03.25) and now sets his sights on a third-straight outdoor title. Should Clarke win out this year, he would become just the second individual in NCAA history to win five consecutive NCAA titles in the shot put. Only Kansas’ Karl Salb, who won every shot put title from 1969 to 1971, would have a better a record after winning six titles during his tenure as a Jayhawk. Clarke is a man of many talents, however, and currently ranks seventh nationally in the hammer throw and 18th in the discus after setting personal bests in both events at the Sun Angel Classic.
JEL-ING AT THE RIGHT TIME
Junior Anna Jelmini became a three-time All-American in the shot put indoors with her fifth-place finish in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships . With the effort, Jelmini opened the door to match Sarah Stevens as the lone Sun Devil in school history with four straight first-team All-America honors. Heading into the outdoor season, Jelmini is the two-time defending NCAA runner-up and two-time defending Pac-12 Champion in the discus throw. Jelmini set a new career-best in a Sun Devil uniform at the Mesa Classic this past weekend with a mark of 60.61m (198-10) and she also ranks eighth nationally in the shot put competition. The throw was the 10th-best in NCAA history and garnered Jelmini recognition on the most recent Bowerman Watch List for the Bowerman award, given annually to the top male and female track and field athletes at the NCAA level.
Chelsea Cassulo is fast-becoming one of the best transfer pick-ups in recent history for the Sun Devils. The former UNLV standout finished fourth in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a mark of 21.23m (69-08.00) - the third-best mark in ASU history. Oddly enough, that’s not even her best event. Cassulo was named the USTFCCCA Field Athlete of the Week following the ASU Invite after set ting a new school record in the hammer throw with a mark of 69.80m (229-00). The throw was the eighth-best individual throw in NCAA history and the 15th-best throw ever at the NCAA Division I level. Cassulo followed the performance with three throws over 68 meters at the Sun Angel Classic, finishing second only to Olympian Jessica Cosby.
I’VE GOT A HINCH
Before the 2012 season, head coach Greg Kraft believe that one of the team’s dark horses this season could be incoming vaulter Derick Hinch, a transfer from Cuesta College. Hinch went on to take third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, becoming just the second Sun Devil to ever clear 18 feet and doing it twice on the season. He became just the second Sun Devil in indoor history to clear 18 feet indoors behind Olympian Nick Hysong with a season’s best of 5.50m (18-00.50) this year, earning All-America honors with a sixth-place finish indoors.
CHRISTABELS AND WHISTLES
One of the key pieces to the Arizona State women’s effort this season has been senior Christabel Nettey. Nettey was an absolute monster at the MPSF Championships, winning all three events she was entered in and scoring 30 points toward the team cause and earning herself MPSF Athlete of the Meet honors. She set the school indoor long jump record with a mark of 6.55m (21-06.00) and a runner-up effort at the indoor championships. The mark was actually equivalent to the winning jump but Nettey had to settle for second in the tiebreaking process. Nettey came out guns blazing in her 2013 outdoor long jump opener at the Sun Angel Classic, which featured a rematch against Geubelle, as she set the nation’s leading mark in a winning performance with two leaps of 6.75m (22-01.75). The performance knocked off Jacinta Bartholomew’s 24-year-old school record in the event, matched a Sun Angel Stadium venue record and was the third-best jump in the history of the Pac-12 Conference. Nettey was named the Pac-12 Women’s Field Athlete of the Week for the Performance. Oh, and as if that were all enough, she also clocked the school’s eighth-fastest 100-meter hurdle time in history with a time of 13.42 seconds.
SHELBY GT 800...OR 1500?
Shelby Houlihan introduced herself to the world last season as she became the first student-athlete in Pac-12 history to sweep the cross country and track and field Newcomer of the Year awards. Houlihan locked up the school record in the indoor 800-meter run this season, earning second-team All-America honor as well while also taking the MPSF title in the mile (where she also owns the school record). Houlihan opened the outdoor season at the ASU Invite with a winning time of 2:04.38, which ranks eighth nationally this season. Houlihan came out and absolutely obliterated the previous school record in the 1,500-meter run at the Sun Angel Classic, clocking a time of 4:13.64 that was three-and-a-half seconds better than Priscilla Hein’s former 1999 school record of 4:17 and change. Houlihan’s time is also the best in the nation by a long shot, over three seconds better than the next closest individual.
KEIA TO THE CITY
Senior Keia Pinnick nearly gave ASU two NCAA Champions following the NCAA Indoor Championships, staging a huge comeback over the final two events of the pentathlon to challenge for the title. Pinnick came up just shy, but set a new career best of 4,327 points in the process while breaking school pentathlon records in the 60-meter hurdles, long jump and 800 meters - all marks previous held by Olympian and former NCAA record-holder Jacquelyn Johnson. Pinnick opened the outdoor season with the nation’s 15th-fastest time in the 100-meter hurdles (13.41) and the sixth-fastest time in the 400-meter hurdles (57.89). Pinnick, competing in her first heptathlon of the 2013 outdoor season, bested her previous career-best with a score of 5,791 at Drachman Stadium as part of the Jim Click Combined Events. The score was 30 points better than her previous best, set last year at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where she was fifth overall. The tally is currently the ranked second nationally in the event. Additionally, Pinnick clocked the school heptathlon school record at 200-meter with her winning time in the events of 23.90 to wrap up the first day of the competition.
LIFE OF BRYAN
Junior Bryan McBride nearly made his way back to the podium in an absolutely stacked high jump field at the NCAA Indoor Championships that featured two Olympians. McBride would end up taking ninth in the competition, even though he set a season’s best mark of 2.23m (7-03.25). McBride is now a three-time All-American and will be looking for the first First-Team honor of his outdoor career this year after setting the school’s seventh-best outdoor mark of all time last year on his way to Second-Team honors.
RUNNING RELAY FAST
The Sun Devil men’s sprints team will be the defending Pac-12 Champions in both the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays. The team lost the likes of Devan Spann. Last season was the first sweep for the Sun Devil relays since 2005 and they will look to make it two straight this season. The mile relay of Spann, Burrows, Henry and Ryan Milus clocked the nation’s seventh-best time of 39.65 at the Sun Angel Classic.
OH, HAPPE DAY
Nick Happe got the 2012-13 season off to a good start, earning All-Conference and All-Region honors during the cross country season while also being named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Not only is he getting it done in the classroom, but the senior logged his second indoor school record at the Husky Classic with his time of 7:52.18 at 3,000 meters to finish sixth overall in the event and third in his heat behind two 2012 Olympians. Happe clocked a blistering time of 3:42.78 at the Sun Angel Classic for the fourth-fastest time in ASU history and the third-fastest time in the nation this season.
RUNNING FOR MILUS AND MILES
If there was such a thing as a sophomore slump, Ryan Milus showed no symptoms of it in the 2012 outdoor season. The second-year runner broke the meet record at the ASU Invite with a career-best time of 10.21 in the 100-meter dash and followed it up with a then-career-best 20.86 in the 200-meter dash later in the event. Milus had the 17th best time in the nation at 100 meters and was fourth in the event at the Pac-12 Championships. Milus also ran the anchor leg for the Pac-12 Championship 4x100-meter relay team. An untimely injury at the NCAA West Regionals kept Milus out of a bid for the NCAA Championship, but he will be a key force to the Sun Devils cause this year. Milus opened the 2013 season at 100 meters at the Sun Angel Classic with a winning time of 10.29 that currently ranks 11th in the nation this season.
BETTER TATE THAN NEVER
One of the most impressive improvements from a freshman to sophomore this season has been the rise of Brianna Tate. The quarter-miler clocked a new career-best of 53.30 at the Sun Angel Classic that currently ranks 13th in the nation and just missed moving into ASU’s all-time top-10 in the category. Additionally, Tate runs the anchor leg for the women’s mile relay, which currently sits 23rd in the country with a season’s best of 3:37.37.
IN THE TOP 10 ALL-TIME
During the indoor campaign, 20 student-athletes set 26 marks that improved upon or moved into the top-10 in ASU history. ASU is right back on track with that during the 2013 outdoor season as 13 athletes have set 16 marks that moved into or improved upon marks held on ASU’s top-10 list in their respective events. The list includes Christabel Nettey (long jump/100mH), Anna Jelmini (discus), Jordan Clarke (discus/hammer).
ASU returns eight All-Americans from last year’s outdoor season season. Christabel Nettey all took second-team honors last year.
The start of the 2012 represents the beginning of the end for 16 Sun Devils entering the season. On the men’s side Christabel Nettey, Keia Pinnick and Natasa Vulic will compete in their last competitions as Sun Devils this year.
WHO’S THE NEW KID?
An incredible 35 student-athletes, including 15 women and 20 men, will be competing for the Sun Devils in 2013. True freshmen include Ryan Herson, Devan Spann, Zach Zarda, Heather Arsenau, Dalanne Bartlette, Kelli Gibson and Lauren Rose.
BACK ON SCHEDULE
In 1996, Pal Arne Fagernes won the men’s javelin title at the NCAA Championships. It was not until 2004 that Arizona State had another national champion as Ryan Whiting and Jason Lewis in 2010, Whiting and Jessica Pressley and April Kubishta, all who won titles in 2007. The Sun Devils had no returning champions in 2011 but rectified that for the 2012 season with junior Jordan Clarke returning as the 2011 NCAA outdoor shot put champion and that carried over into a sweep of the 2012 titles. With his return again this year, ASU hopes he can pass the torch on and keep the streak going.
SAME TEAMMATE, DIFFERENT TEAM
As the season begins, there are 17 Sun Devils on the roster that were teammates before they came to Arizona State. Prior to their joining the Sun Devils, thrower Heather Arseneau both competed at Desert Vista and are rejoined after Arseneau transferred to the Sun Devils this season from San Diego State. Freshmen brothers Blake and Kyle Elliot both competed at Dobson HS. Freshman vaulter Diana Diep comes out of Sandra Day O’Connor, which was also home to junior high jumper Byran McBride.
KRAFT LEADS THE WAY
Head Coach Greg Kraft is entering his 17th year as the leader of the Sun Devil program, a tenure that has brought Arizona State back to the top of the standings in both the NCAA and Pac-12 events. Since his hiring, the program has continued to evolve into one of the more well-rounded in the nation with strength on the track and in the field as well as in cross country. Kraft and his staff have worked diligently to reach their goals of championships and success in education and that has not been more clearly seen than in the past five years as the hardware has continued to roll in. His program has annually produced some of the top individuals in the nation with 27 of the program’s 59 individual and relay national titles won since 2004 while both his teams and individual student-athletes have garnered national academic acclaim. Prior to his arrival, the program boasted one NCAA Championship (men’s outdoor track & field, 1977) and one Pac-12 Championship (men’s outdoor track & field, 1981). In the last seven years, his Sun Devils have captured four national crowns (2007 women’s indoor and outdoor track & field, 2008 men’s and women’s indoor track & field) and added three Pac-12 Championships (women’s outdoor track & field, 2006-08). Kraft’s teams have finished in the Top 10 of the NCAA Track & Field Championships on 23 occasions in 17 years while the program had done so just 14 times prior to his arrival in Tempe.
LONG TENURE IN TEMPE
As he begins his 17th year at Arizona State, Kraft’s tenure ranks as the second-longest in Sun Devil track & field history and the third-longest active streak among all current ASU head coaches. The only coach that has led the track & field program longer than Kraft is legendary coach Senon ‘Baldy’ Castillo, who led the way for 26 years (1954-79). Among current Sun Devil head coaches, Kraft’s 17th year ranks behind John Spini, who is in his 33rd year with gymnastics and Sheila McInerney, who is in her 29th year with women’s tennis.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Sun Devils will send a contingent to the annual Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., set to take place April 19-20.