Oct. 14, 2011
TEMPE—The Arizona State University cross country team had its first opportunity to earn points towards the NCAA Championships on Friday, competing in the biggest meet of the season thus far at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis.
Junior Nick Happe paced the men’s team to a solid 16th-place showing in a field that featured 20 of the top 30 teams in the nation gathered at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course. Happe came home in 40th place in 24:25, offsetting an off-day by redshirt junior Darius Terry, who had been the team’s top runner in the first couple races of the season.
“Nick stepped up today; he was eighth among the Pac-12 runners,” ASU men’s head coach Louie Quintana said after the race. “It was good for him because he’s always been a guy who has kind of played second fiddle for us and never had a real breakthrough race and today that happened.”
Matt Boughton, who has been consistently solid throughout the season, was the second Sun Devil across the line in 72nd in a time of 24:40. Terry, who developed back spasms about a thousand meters into the 8,000-meter race, fought through the discomfort to finish just behind Boughton in 74th in 24:41.
The No. 23 Sun Devil men finished ahead of five teams that had been ranked ahead of them in this week’s U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches of America Coaches Poll. ASU was fourth among Pac-12 teams but just four points behind Oregon, who finished in 14th, and just 42 points behind 12th-place UCLA, a team Quintana feels is a “top-10” national team – a difference that could very likely have been made up had Terry been in top form on Friday.
“We positioned ourselves well being only four points behind Oregon on a bad day,” Quintana said. “I think now we are looking at the conference meet maybe looking to place second.”
On the women’s side of things, the youth again showed promise as Shelby Houlihan paced the team for her second consecutive race as she, too, finished 40th overall in a time of 20:49 in just her second collegiate race. The time helped the women to a 26th-place overall finish out of 44 teams.
Senior Lindsay Prescott was next across the line, coming in 123rd in 21:26 and followed closely by teammates Kate Lydy (21:29, 130th) and freshman Macy Bricks (21:31, 135th). Natasa Vulic rounded out the point-scoring individuals for the women with a time of 21:40 to finish 165th.
The men’s race was won by the host Wisconsin while Washington topped the standings on the women’s side.
The sights of both Sun Devils squads are now squarely on Oct. 29, as the teams will return to action as they host the 2011 Pac-12 Conference Championships at the Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz.