Aug. 29, 2012
TEMPE -- The Arizona State University cross country programs will open up the 2012 campaign this weekend at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, Ariz. The meet is the first of 11 scheduled competitions on the Sun Devil slate this season. The competition will consist of two races, with the women's 5,000-meter race getting underway at 1:30 p.m. to be followed by the men's 8,000-meter run at Buffalo Park.
MEET HISTORY: George Kyte
Historically, the Sun Devils have had two individual winners and two team victories at the George Kyte Invitational recording at the 2005 and 2011 events. The first individual victory was recorded in the women's 5,000-meter run by Jenna Wrieden as she covered the course in 17:56.8. The team victory was recorded by the men that same year as the Sun Devils scored 35 points for the win. Darius Terry won the men's race last season and led the team to a victoryas they scored an impressive cumulative total of 26 points.
A LOOK BACK: 2012 George Kyte Classic
The Arizona State University men's cross country team took home the team title while the women scored a runner-up finish in the season opener at the Geoge Kyte Classic last season. Darius Terry won the men's individual crown handily over the 8,000-meter course in a time of 25:38.8, about two-and-a-half minutes quicker than his time on the same course the previous season. It was the first time a member of the men's team had ever won the individual title at the event. Terry led a pack of Sun Devils as the team scored their lowest total in race history with 26 points to win the competition for just the second time in the school's history at the meet - with the other victory coming in 2005. The women's side fared nearly as well as the men, coming second to Arizona by a mere three points. Natasha Vulic ran the fastest time of any Sun Devil in the history of the George Kyte Classic, finishing fourth in 17:38.0.
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 was the top freshman finisher at the Pac-12 Championships (8th) and the NCAA West Regional (12th) and led the women to their 13th NCAA Championships appearance in the last 14 years.
OH, HAPPE DAY
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. He was a second-team All-American in the mile and looks primed for a solid senior campain.
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.
THEY NEVER LEFT
After advancing to 12 consecutive NCAA Championship apperances 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.
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.
NO LUMP OF COLE
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, 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 has been an active recruiter during his tenure, bring in a solid class of athletes for the current season, and will be a welcomed addition to the ASU coaching staff.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
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 priased by Cole for doing everything necessary to get to this point and providing the model work ethic for the younger women to follow.
A LOCAL AFFAIR
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.), redhsirt 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 2011, 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 2011-12 academic calendar. Barrett, which has been named among the top honors colleges in the nation, enrolls nearly 30 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 (Jr.), Catherine Loden (Jr.), Karlee Owens (So.) and Kayla Springford (Fr.) on the women's team and Garrett Baker-Slama (Fr.), Andrew Hagler (Fr.) and Nick Happe (Jr.) for the men.
IN THE RANKINGS
Neither the men nor the women's team received votes in the preseason coaches poll released by the USTFCCCA. Both the men and the women are currently ranked seventh in the preseason West Regional rankings also released by the USTFCCCA.
2011: SEASON IN REVIEW - 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.
2011: SEASON IN REVIEW - WOMEN
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.