Arizona State women set for NCAA XC Championships

<p>The 2008 season comes to an end this weekend as the Arizona State University women's cross country team will compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday, November 24, at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind. The Sun Devils, making their 11th-consecutive appearance in the national meet, will compete in the 6,000m run starting at 12:08 p.m. ET (10:08 a.m. MT).</p><separator></separator><p>THE WARM UP<br />Here are five quick notes on ASU as its heads to the NCAA Cross Country Championships:<br />1k - The women are making their 11th-conecutive appearance at the NCAA meet<br />2k - Their streak is the third-longest among teams in the meet and the eighth-longest in NCAA women's cross country meet history<br />3k - The women placed fourth at the NCAA West meet with three runners earning all-region<br />4k - The men turned in a solid team effort to finish eighth overall in the West<br />5k - ASU will run on the Terre Haute course for the second time this year (Pre-Nats)</p><separator></separator><p>TUNE IN<br />Fans that aren't making the trip to Terre Haute, Ind., can still watch all the action live from the comfort of their own homes and offices as both CBS and the NCAA will broadcast the races. CBS College Sports Network will carry live coverage on television while the NCAA will stream a live web cast on</p><separator></separator><p>THE STAKES<br />Eight team trophies and 82 individual awards will be up for grabs in Terre Haute on Monday, including four national titles. Along with the national team championships in the men's and women's events, the second, third and fourth-place teams in each race also will earn a trophy. Individually, the Top 40 finishers will be designated as All-Americans while the top finisher in each race will be crowned the national champion.</p><separator></separator><p>IN THE RANKINGS<br />The U.S. Track &amp; Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its final national rankings November 18 with the Sun Devil women moving up one spot to No. 15 while the men were not included in the final poll of the season.</p><separator></separator><p>HIGHLY TOUTED<br />With their No. 15 ranking, the women extended their current streak to 82 weeks in a row that they have appeared in the poll, dating back to a No. 15 ranking on Oct. 12, 1998.</p><separator></separator><p>STREAK EXTENDED<br />The Sun Devil women earned their 11th-consecutive appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, marking the third-longest active streak in the nation behind only Providence (20 in a row) and Stanford (16). Of the 31 teams in the women's race this on Monday, 12 are in the meet for the fourth year in a row or longer with the next team in line behind Arizona State is Michigan State (under former ASU XC coach <a href="">Walt Drenth</a>) at eight in a row.</p><separator></separator><p>MORE ON THE STREAK<br />In 1981, the NCAA began sponsoring a national championship cross country meet for women. Since then, only nine schools have put together a streak of double-digit appearances at the NCAA Championships in that time with the Sun Devil women's run of 11 in a row sitting as the eighth-longest in NCAA history. Providence (20, active), BYU (19, ended in 2007) and the trio of Stanford (active), Colorado (ended in 2007) and Georgetown (ended in 2003) each stand third at 16 in a row.</p><separator></separator><p>IN THE FIELD<br />Both races will feature 31 teams with each team allowed to enter no more than seven runners. Add in the 38 individual qualifiers from the regional meets and the field will have up to 255 individual runners competing. The women's teams entered include: Arkansas, Arizona State, Baylor, Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Georgetown, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Northern Arizona, Notre Dame, Oregon, Princeton, Providence, Rice, SMU, Stanford, Stony Brook, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Villanova, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.</p><separator></separator><p>HOW THEY GOT THERE<br />The Top 2 teams in each region automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships with those 18 teams including: Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Princeton, Providence, Rice, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The remaining 13 teams, including Arizona State, were selected to compete as at-large entries.</p><separator></separator><p>ON THE LINE<br />The Sun Devils will run six of the seven runners that competed at the NCAA West Region Championships over the weekend, including (in their order of finish at the regional meet) <a href="">Kari Hardt</a>, <a href="">Jenna Kingma</a>, <a href="">Ali Kielty</a>, <a href="">Haley Paul</a>, <a href="">A… Spadafino</a> and <a href="">L… Prescott</a>. <a href="">Sunni Olding</a> will also compete for the Sun Devils, replacing <a href="">Cami… Olson</a>, who was unable to finish the regional race because of injury.</p><separator></separator><p>RECAP: 2007 NCAA MEET<br />The Sun Devil women scored 251 points and place fourth overall to secure their second trophy finish in three years (fourth in 2005) while a pair of runners earned All-America honors based upon their finishes in the 6,000m race. <a href="">Jenna Kingma</a> led the way with her 37th-place finish (21:01.00) while <a href="">Ali Kielty</a> joined her as an All-American by finishing 42nd in 21:08.00. <a href="">Kari Hardt</a> (50th in 21:12.00) and <a href="">Cami… Olson</a> (51st in 21:12.00) just missed out on earning the national accolade as well.</p><separator></separator><p>RETURNING RUNNERS<br />Of the seven women that compete at the national meet last year, all but one are on the roster this season. The women that competed last year included <a href="">Jenna Kingma</a> (37th), <a href="">Ali Kielty</a> (42nd), <a href="">Kari Hardt</a> (50th), <a href="">Cami… Olson</a> (51st), <a href="">Kryst… Duke</a> (155th) and <a href="">A… Spadafino</a> (180th) with <a href="">Wh… Lemieux</a> (228th) having graduated.</p><separator></separator><p>MORE RETURNING RUNNERS<br />Two more women on the roster also have compete at the national meet, albeit not as members of the Sun Devil program and not at the 2007 meet. Senior transfers <a href="">Sunni Olding</a> and <a href="">Haley Paul</a> have both competed on the national stage and earned All-America honors for their teams at the time. Olding earned a pair of All-America finishes for Notre Dame, placing 32nd in 2004 and 34th in 2005 while Paul, running for Washington State, placed 14th at the 2005 meet.</p><separator></separator><p>FAMILIAR FOOTING<br />The Sun Devils have fared well in races at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute in the five seasons with <a href="">Lou… Quintana</a> at the helm of the program, including a pair of trophies at the national meet. The women posted finishes of ninth, fourth, 13th and fourth in their previous four runs at the NCAA Championships on the course while posting five Top 6 finishes at the NCAA Pre-National meet. In the Pre-National race, the women have recorded placements of second (twice), third (twice) and sixth (this year).</p><separator></separator><p>HOOSIER STATE HAPPENINGS<br />The Sun Devil women have competed in 10 NCAA meets with six of those races being held in the state of Indiana. Of those six runs, the Sun Devils have recorded five of their Top 6 national meet scores, including the Top 2. The 191 points eared in 2005 in Terre Haute is the best performance from the women while last year's 251 points stands second. Terre Haute also was the site of the No. 4 (333 in 2004) and No. 5 (375 in 2006) scores while Bloomington, Ind., was the site of the No. 6 score (385 in 1999). ASU also ran in Terre Haute in 2002, scoring 549 points (No. 9 on the list).</p><separator></separator><p>LAST TIME IN TERRE HAUTE<br />Arizona State competed at the 2008 NCAA Pre-National meet in October with the women placing sixth (202 points) in the 'white' race and the men 17th. The teams that finished ahead of ASU's women all will compete in the NCAA meet this week, including co-winners Florida State and Princeton (89), Michigan (168), Illinois (186) and Georgetown (186). <a href="">Ali Kielty</a> was the top finisher for the women, placing 11th overall (20:39.8), while <a href="">Kari Hardt</a> also posted a Top 20 finish (17th in 20:48.4). The men were led by <a href="">Pat… Milloy</a>, who covered the 8,000m course in 24:24.9 to place 51st overall.</p><separator></separator><p>RECAP: 2008 NCAA WEST REGION<br />The Sun Devils traveled to Stanford, Calif., and the Stanford Golf Course last weekend to compete in the NCAA West Region Championships with the women placing fourth overall and the men eighth. The women scored 128 points to place behind Washington (25), Oregon (62) and host Stanford (91) while the men scored 290 points as Oregon (38) and Stanford (72) earned the automatic berths to the national meet from the West. Individually, <a href="">Kari Hardt</a> was the top finisher for the women, crossing the finish line in 10th place (20:18.96) while the men saw <a href="">Pat… Milloy</a> finish 42nd (30:23.11) to pace the Sun Devils.</p><separator></separator><p>REGIONAL HONORS<br />Based on their finishes in the Top 25 of the race, three Sun Devil women garnered All-Region accolades. Those runners included <a href="">Kari Hardt</a> (10th place), <a href="">Jenna Kingma</a> (18th) and <a href="">Ali Kielty</a> (21st). That trio -- with finishes of 25th, eighth and 11th, respectively in 2007 -- earned the regional honor last year along with <a href="">Cami… Olson</a>, who placed 23rd in the race.</p><separator></separator><p>STRONG FINISH<br />Much like the 2007 NCAA Championships, the Sun Devil men fared better than many expected according to the rankings. Last year at the national meet, the men entered ranked 30th of the 31 teams in the meet before placing 26th. This year, at the regional meet, the men were ranked 13th in the West before running to an eighth-place finish in their final race of the season.</p><separator></separator><p>WINNING WAYS<br />So far this season, a member of the Arizona State program has won six races with four of those being won by a Sun Devil that was competing unattached from the team. On the women's side, true freshman <a href="">Kate Lydy</a> has won the Joe Uff/ASU Invitational and the Mesa Thunderbird Invitational while competing unattached from ASU after finishing 15th at the Dave Murray Invitational, her first race of the year. <a href="">Ali Kielty</a> opened the winning for ASU by taking the Dave Murray meet title in Tucson before <a href="">Kari Hardt</a> captured the Roy Griak Invitational after taking second at the Murray. On the men's side, <a href="">Bra… Bethke</a>, who is running unattached from ASU this season, has won the only two races he has run, the Dave Murray Invitational and the Mesa Thunderbird Invitational.</p><separator></separator><p>FIRST WINS<br />By capturing the 23rd Joe Uff/ASU Invitational (October 3), <a href="">Kate Lydy</a> continued a streak of three weeks in a row with a member of the Sun Devil women's program winning her first collegiate race. Lydy, who won the event in 18:20.3 two weeks before winning the Mesa Thunderbird Invitational in 18:11.0, followed <a href="">Ali Kielty</a> and <a href="">Kari Hardt</a> as first time collegiate winners. Kielty won the Dave Murray Invitational (September 19) before the team traveled to Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational, which Hardt won on September 27.</p><separator></separator><p>RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS<br />While the Sun Devils have four women and two men on the roster this season that have earned collegiate All-America honors, only the women have accumulated the national accolade on the cross country course. Last year, both <a href="">Jenna Kingma</a> and <a href="">Ali Kielty</a> earned All-America honors in cross country -- their first in the sport -- by finishing 37th and 42nd, respectively. The team's leaders from last year will be joined this year by a pair of senior transfers with cross country All-America honors, including <a href="">Sunni Olding</a> (2004 and 2005 at Notre Dame) and <a href="">Haley Paul</a> (2005 at Washington State).</p><separator></separator><p>DISTANCE STARS<br />On the track in 2008, the Sun Devil men's distance corps saw three of its runners earn All-America honors and capture two national titles. <a href="">Kyle Alcorn</a>, who recently graduated, won the 3,000m run at the indoor championships after entering the meet ranked 14th overall before heading outdoors to win the 3,000m steeplechase crown at the NCAA meet. Alcorn joined up with fellow distance runners <a href="">Ne… Barbosa</a> (800m) and <a href="">Joey Heller</a> (1,200m) and sprinter Justin Kremer (400m) to finish second in the nation indoors in the distance medley relay and add another eight team points. In the end, those points in the 3,000m and DMR proved very needed as the Sun Devil men beat out Florida State by three points for the NCAA team championship, joining the women as national team champions at the same meet.</p><separator></separator><p>NEXT TIME OUT<br />The NCAA Cross Country Championships marks the conclusion of the 2008 cross country season for Arizona State. The Sun Devils will be back in action in January when the 2009 indoor track &amp; field season gets underway.</p>