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ASU cross country hits road for Roy Griak Invitational

September 26, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University cross country team will head to Minneapolis, Minn., this weekend as the Sun Devils are set to compete in the 22nd Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday afternoon on the Les Bolstad Golf Course. Twenty-four men's and 26 women's teams comprise the field in the Division I Gold Races that ASU will compete in while five other races for several other divisions will also be run that day.

The USTFCCCA will release both regional and national rankings throughout the season with the latest polls coming out September 24 and 25, respectively. In the national polls, the Sun Devil women moved up one position to No. 6 while the men remained unranked. Regionally, the women retained their hold on the No. 2 position while the men are ranked No. 8.

The Sun Devil women moved up to No. 6 in the national rankings this week, moving them closer to their all-time high in the polls. The record ranking is No. 3 overall and was awarded to ASU on three occasions, most recently during the 2003 campaign. Since then, the Sun Devils have remained ranked in the Top 25 every week. Overall, the ASU women have held a place in the national Top 30 each week since it first cracked the national polls as the No. 15 team on October 12, 1998.

Four women's and five men's teams enter the Roy Griak Invitational holding a place in the national Top 30 rankings this week, including the Sun Devil women, who are No. 6. Joining the Sun Devil women are three more Top 10 teams, including No. 8 Minnesota, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 10 Virginia. On the men's side, the ranked teams include No. 18 Minnesota, No. 19 Northern Arizona, No. 23 Michigan State, No. 28 Virginia and No. 29 Iowa State.

The Sun Devil women have competed in the Roy Griak Invitational every year since 1999 (eight races) and have not placed lower than third overall (2000). Arizona State has won the meet four times (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005) with three runner-up finishes (2002, 2004, 2006). Individually, the women have had some high placements as well with Amy Hastings winning the 2005 meet after taking third in 2003 and 2004 and Lisa Aguilera taking runner-up honors in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

The men are coming off their second-best finish in eight years of competing at the Roy Griak Invitational as the Sun Devils placed fourth last year, surpassed only by the team's third-place showing at the 2004 meet. Last year, Aaron Aguayo finished third overall in the race, marking the second-highest finish for a Sun Devil individual behind the runner-up placement of Juan Reyes in 2001.

Last weekend, the Sun Devils did not compete, but several of its team members had a busy weekend in Washington, D.C., as the 2007 NCAA Indoor and 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship teams were honored by President George W. Bush at the White House. After receiving a tour of the White House, the athletes gathered to meet with the President and pose for a picture.

Former Sun Devil All-American Desiree Davila will once again represent the United States when she competes in the IAAF World Road Racing Championships set for Oct. 14 in Udine, Italy. Davila, who placed 43rd overall and fourth on Team USA in last year's inaugural event in Debrecen, Hungary, will compete in the 20km event that sends five runners on the course for each represented nation with the Top 3 finishers from each team combining their times for an overall score. The U.S. women placed 10th last year.

Last year, the women placed second and the men fourth in the 21st Roy Griak Invitational. On the women's side, Jenna KingmaCassie Bando (13th), Krystal Duke (27th), Ali Kielty (30th) and Brooke Bennett (31) rounding out the Top 5 Sun Devils. For the men, Aguayo was chased across the finish line by Kyle AlcornJoey Heller (46th), Mikias Gelagle (62nd) and Garrett Kelly (71st). paced the team as she finished in 12th place individually with (15th),

In the last competition, the Sun Devils competed at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson and walked away with several strong performances. The women won the team race with 22 points while the men, without two of its top runners (Kyle Alcorn and David Gott) in the line up, scored 42 to finish behind No. 20 BYU (35 points). Jenna Kingma won the first individual title of her career, becoming the 15th to do so while Mikias Gelagle's fifth-place showing paced the men.

At the Dave Murray Invitational, Jenna Kingma covered the 4,000m course in 13:42.52 to win the individual title and becoming the 15th different Sun Devil to win a cross country race in her career. The third Arizona State runner to win the meet behind Brooke Bennett (2005) and back-to-back winner Amy Hastings (2003, 2004), Kingma is now tied for fifth on the all-time victories list at Arizona State.

The 2007 Arizona State coaching staff is comprised of Louie Quintana and Ryan Cole. Quintana is back for his fourth season as the head coach of the harriers and will look to continue his efforts of building one of the top distance programs in the Pac-10 Conference and the NCAA. During his time in Tempe, Quintana has led the women to three NCAA appearances which continued the team's nine-year run, the sixth-longest stretch in the nation. Quintana's women, who have placed second in the Pac-10 each of the past three years, earned their first trophy finish in 2005 as the team took fourth at the NCAA Championships. Cole joins the staff as a graduate assistant coach.

Ryan Cole comes to Tempe after graduating from Wisconsin in 2006 and serving as an assistant coach at NCAA Division II Northwood University in Midland, Mich. Cole competed at Wisconsin for three seasons before using his final year of eligibility at Grand Valley State University, an NCAA Division II school in Allendale, Mich., where he was a cross country All-American for the Lakers. Cole replaces former assistant coach Jeremy Rasmussen, who is now the head women's cross country coach and assistant track & field coach at Illinois, and Director of Operations Rhonda Riley, who is now the assistant women's cross country and track & field coach at Vanderbilt.

Overall, 13 women and 15 men return to the program this season. For the women, the team's Top 4 runners from one year ago -- Jenna Kingma, Cassie Bando, Ali Kielty and Kari Hardt -- return, along with several veterans and redshirt freshmen. On the men's side, three of the Top 4 placers from last year -- Kyle Alcorn, Joey Heller and Mikias Gelagle -- return and will be bolstered by a young group of second-year runners.

Four women and five men join the team as true freshmen this fall while the men also have brought on two junior college transfers in Santos Castro and Alonso Contreras. Joining the transfers for the men are rookies Nectaly Barbosa, Dylan Hatcher, Daniel Lovell, Zach Mason and Thomas Petersen while the women's freshmen class includes Dayna Anderson, Camille Olson, Erica Parker and Maureen Stringham.

With their selection into the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the Sun Devil women have now advanced to nine-consecutive national meets, the sixth-longest streak in the nation currently, tying them with North Carolina. BYU and Providence lead the way having made the field in 18-consecutive years while Colorado is third (15 years), Stanford is fourth (14 years) and North Carolina State is fifth (12 years) on the list.

Last year, four women and two men earned honors from the Pac-10 Conference, including Ali Kielty, who was selected as the 2007 Pac-10 Women's Newcomer of the Year. Cassie Bando and Brooke Bennett each earned First Team All-Pac-10 honors while Kielty joined Jenna Kingma as second team selections. On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo was a first team selection while Kyle Alcorn was a second team honoree.

One man and five women each garnered NCAA All-West Region honors last year as all six individuals placed among the Top 25 at the regional race in Portland, Ore. Aaron Aguayo, despite a fall in the mud with under 600 meters remaining in the race, charged hard at the finish line to place second overall in the men's race while Cassie Bando, Brooke Bennett, Kari Hardt, Ali Kielty and Jenna Kingma all finished in the Top 25 for the women.

During the 2007 track and field season, the distance corps played a role in helping the Sun Devil women capture all five team titles they competed for. During the indoor season, Amy Hastings won the 3,000m run to help the team to the MPSF Indoor Championship title, the program's first indoor team crown. Three weeks later, Hastings earned All-America honors in both the 3,000m run and 5,000m run at the NCAA Indoor Championships to help the team secure its first national title. Outdoors, the women won the Pac-10 for the second year in a row before claiming titles in the NCAA West Region and the NCAA Championships. Hastings earned All-America honors in the 10,000m run at the outdoor national meet.

The 2007 Sun Devil rosters are comprised of 39 student-athletes with 12 different states represented. Arizona is home to 19 of the runners while California (seven) and Washington (four) each are the only states with multiple residents. The remaining states, with an eastern flavor, include student-athletes from Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The Sun Devils return to action on Oct. 5 as they are set to host the 22nd ASU Invitational at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. The women's 5,000m run leads things off at 5 p.m. with the men's 8,000m run starting at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.