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Alcorn, Kingma selected at ASU cross country team's most valuable

November 28, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - One week removed from the completion of another successful season, the Arizona State University cross country program held its annual team banquet Tuesday (November 27) at the Old Main Building on campus with eight individual awards presented to members of the program by Head Coach Louie Quintana. The Sun Devils recently placed fourth in the women's race and 26th in the men's race at the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships on November 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.

The first honors handed out were the Coach's Awards which were given to Ali Kielty and Joey Heller. Kielty turned in a solid season in which she earned her first All-America honor by placing 42nd at the NCAA Championships. She placed seventh in the Pac-10 to earn First Team All-Pac-10 honors before placing 11th at the NCAA West Region Championships to earn all-region accolades for the second year in a row. Kielty also added a pair of Top 15 finishes early in the season, placing third at the Dave Murray Invitational and 15th at the Roy Griak Invitational.

Heller, the only Sun Devil male to make a return appearance at the NCAA Championships, placed 191st in Terre Haute and nearly earned all-region accolades 10 days earlier as he placed 27th to help the Sun Devils finish fifth in the West and earn a berth into the national meet. Placing 25th at the Pac-10 Championships, Heller also took 25th at the Roy Griak Invitational to help the men to a runner-up finish in the team standings.

The Most Improved Awards where handed to Kari Hardt and Jeff Helmer after each sophomore helped their respective teams to strong finishes. Hardt continued to improve not only from last year to this season, but also throughout the year as she capped her sophomore season with a 50th-place showing at the national meet to help ASU to a trophy finish. Hardt finished 25th in the West for the second year in a row to garner all-region accolades after placing 12th at the Pac-10 Championships to earn Second Team All-Pac-10 accolades. She also placed second at the Dave Murray Invitational to open the year as the Sun Devils captured the team title before finishing fourth at the Roy Griak Invitational and 21st at the NCAA Pre-National race.

Helmer was certainly one of the most improved men during the season as he was the top ASU finisher at the national meet (91st) after running second or third on the team the rest of the year. An all-region honoree after placing 14th in the NCAA West Region meet, Helmer was one place shy of earning conference honors with his 15th-place finish.

The Newcomer of the Year Awards went to a pair of freshmen with true freshman Camille Olson and redshirt freshman Ben Engelhardt garnering the honors. Originally slated to redshirt this season, Olson was called upon to compete for the team and made an immediate impact on the women by placing 44th at the pre-national meet. Olson continued to improve with each race and finished her rookie season with a 51st-place showing at the NCAA Championships, running as the fourth ASU finisher as well as the fourth freshman finisher in the entire national race. She placed 18th at the Pac-10 Championships before earning all-region accolades with her 23rd-place showing at the regional meet.

Engelhardt turned in several strong races during his first collegiate season after redshirting last year. The rookie closed his season on a high note as the team's third finisher at the national meet, running in 163rd place. Engelhardt, who also placed third on the team (20th overall) to help ASU to runner-up honors at the Roy Griak Invitational, finished 26th in his first Pac-10 Championships to help his team earn points toward qualifying for its first national appearance since 2005.

The team's Most Valuable Awards were the final honors bestowed on the night with the awards going to Jenna Kingma and Kyle Alcorn. Kingma, like Kielty, earned her first cross country All-America honor by finishing 37th overall at the national meet. Kingma opened the season with her first collegiate win, taking the Dave Murray Invitational, before earning First Team All-Pac-10 honors with a fifth-place showing at the conference meet. An all-region honoree with her eighth-place finish, Kingma was the team's top finisher in five of six races.

Alcorn was the top finisher on the men's team much of the season and provided the needed leadership for the young Sun Devil team to advance to the NCAA Championships where ASU was 26th in the 31-team field. Alcorn placed 10th at the Pac-10 Championships to earn Second Team All-Pac-10 honors before finishing seventh at the NCAA West Region Championships to earn all-region accolades.

The distance runners will join their track and field teammates in January for the start of the indoor season as the women look to defend their 2007 NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor national titles.