Oct. 25, 2012
TEMPE -- The Arizona State University cross country teams open the championship season on Saturday as the team heads west to take part in the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Oct. 27 in Santa Clarita, Calif. The women will open the competition with a 6,000-meter run beginning at 9:40 a.m. PT at the Robinson Ranch Golf Course while the men will follow with the 8,000-meter race at 10:40 p.m. This is the second year the championship will be held under the new Pac-12 Conference with the additions of Colorado and Utah, with Colorado sweeping both the men’s and women’s races in the inagural championship in Litchfield Park, Ariz., last year.
The men will be competing in the Pac-12 Championships for the 29th time this year while the women will run for the 27th time since the Sun Devils joined the Conference in 1979. The squads began competing in cross country in 1984 and 1986, respectively. While neither team has won the Conference crown, both have come close as the men have finished as the meet runner-up twice (the last coming in 2004) and the women have done so seven times (the last coming in 2006). Overall, the men have finished the Top 3 four times while the women have done so 10 times. On an individual basis, only one Sun Devil has ever been crowned the Pac-12 Champion and that was Amy Hastings, who won the race at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in 2004.
Last year, Shelby Houlihan solidified her spot as the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year with an eighth-place finish overall to lead the women to a sixth-place finish and help pave the way for an NCAA Championship berth. The men struggled at the Wigwam Golf Course, finishing ninth overall.
As usual, both the men’s and women’s races are stacked at the 2012 Championships. Four men’s teams are ranked in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches poll, with both Colorado and Stanford ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Oregon enters at No. 8 in the country while UCLA is No. 15. On the women’s side, half the Pac-12 teams are ranked in the most recent national ranking, including four teams in the top six. Oregon, Stanford, Arizona and Washington currently sit in positions 3-6, respectively, in the latest poll with Colorado in 21st and UCLA in 24th. Both of last year’s individual champions will be back to defend their conference crowns this year in Washington’s Katie Flood and Arizona’s Lawi Lalang.
IN THE RANKINGS
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.
PAC-12 TELEVISION COVERAGE
For the first time ever, the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will be on television, with tape-delayed coverage of the championships airing on the Pac-12 Networks. Dwight Stones will serve as the analyst, while Jim Watson will provide play-by-play. The broadcast will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks on Nov. 5 (6 p.m.), Nov. 6 (7 p.m.), Nov. 7 (11 p.m.), Nov. 8 (6 a.m.) and Nov. 8 (11 a.m.)
PAC-12 LIVE COVERAGE
Exclusive content on every Pac-12 men’s and women’s cross country team will be available on the Pac-12’s official website at www.pac-12.com. Hover over the ‘Events’ tab on the navigation bar and click on ‘Cross Country’ or click on the link: http://championships.pac-12.com/cross-country/. Previews, as well as real-time coverage on the day of the championships, will be posted, including live stats, Twitter updates and Facebook updates. In addition, fans can download facebook cover photos now. At the conclusion of the race, official results and recaps will be posted on the championships page.
Arizona State will be providing live updates via Twitter and Facebook, which can be viewed by following us at www.facebook.com/sundeviltfxc and @SunDevilTFXC.
LAST TIME OUT
Shelby Houlihan clocked the fastest 6,000-meter cross country race in school history and the Arizona State University men took 21st overall to earn valuable at-large points as the team finished up competition on Friday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis. In her first 6k of the season, Houlihan clocked a time of 19:58 for a 13th-place overall finish in a field of 327 to establish herself as having the fastest time ahead of ASU Olympian Amy Hastings at the top of the school’s all-time performance list. The men took their first step towards earning an NCAA Championship qualification on Friday, finishing 21st of 45 teams despite entering the competition in the somewhere around 30th on paper entering the meet. ASU defeated ranked teams in No. 13 Notre Dame, No. 16 Minnesota, No. 29 Virginia and No. 30 Missouri as well as several other teams that might be on the bubble when the championship field is decided next month.
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. 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.
TRUTH OR DARIUS
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 eventually team champion Lumberjacks. 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. Terry will be pivotal to the team’s success this season and a healthy Terry is a good thing for all parties involved.
A WELCOMED ADDITION
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.
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 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.
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 campaign.
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.
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 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.
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 praised 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.), 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.
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.