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ASU Harriers set to compete in two events this week

October 10, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - A pair of races await members of the Arizona State University cross country team this weekend including the prestigious NCAA Pre-National Meet that will feature many of the top collegiate teams in the nation. The Sun Devils will send runners to the Pre-National Meet on Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., the site of the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships (Nov. 19), with the women competing in a 6,000m race and the men in an 8,000m run. The remaining members of the team will remain in the Valley of the Sun and return to Kiwanis Park in Tempe on Saturday morning as they take part in the Canyon West Classic. The women's 5,000m run leads off the day while the men's 8,000m run closes out the competition.

In the latest national rankings released this week (Oct. 8 for regional and Oct. 9 for national polls), the Sun Devil men and women find themselves ranked in both polls. The women remained No. 6 nationally for the third week in a row and remained No. 3 in the West Region while the men held on to their national No. 20 ranking, while also maintaining their No. 7 ranking in the West Region.

Arizona State's women's team is No. 6 this week in the national rankings, marking the 41st week the Sun Devils have held a place among the Top 10. Dating back to October 12, 1998, the ASU women have been ranked in the national Top 30 for 68-consecutive weeks while ranking in the Top 20 in 64 of those weeks, including the past 22 rankings. The Sun Devils have been ranked in the Top 5 on 14 occasions with No. 3 rankings on September 27, 1999, October 7, 2003, and October 13, 2003, standing as the highest the team has been ranked.

The Arizona State men returned to the national rankings on October 2 for the first time since also being ranked No. 20 on October 10 last year. Ranked tied for 20th with UTEP this week, the ranking marks the 50th time the Sun Devils have been ranked in the Top 30 and their 34th Top 20 ranking.

The final entries for the NCAA Pre-National Meet have been entered with 79 men's and 76 women's teams set to compete in Terre Haute, Ind. Overall, 23 women's teams and 26 men's teams that are ranked among the Top 30 (October 9 release) are set to compete in the meet. The Sun Devil women, ranked No. 6, are the fourth-highest ranked team in the meet behind No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Colorado and No. 4 Minnesota. The ASU men, ranked No. 20 (tie), have 15 teams ranked ahead of them entered into the meet, including No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 3 Colorado, No. 4 Iona and No. 5 Stanford.

The Pre-National Meet is broken into two races per gender, white and blue, and fielded with teams equally separated based on national and regional rankings. This season, the Sun Devil men and women will run in the white race with the men's 8,000m run at 11:40 a.m. while the women's 6,000m run will start at 12:55 p.m.

No. 6 Arizona State is one of 38 teams in the women's race and one of 14 nationally ranked squads, including 11 in the national Top 30 (three are receiving votes). No. 2 Colorado is the highest ranked team in the white race and is followed by ASU, No. 8 Princeton and No. 10 Illinois, which is coached by former Sun Devil Jeremy Rasmussen.

The No. 20 Sun Devil men are one of 16 ranked teams, including 13 in the national Top 30 (three are receiving votes this week) and are the eighth-highest ranked team in the race. No. 2 Colorado leads the way and is joined in the race by No. 5 Stanford, No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 10 NC State, among others.

Last year, the women, ranked No. 16 heading into the meet, placed third overall and finished ahead of six teams ranked higher than them, including No. 6 BYU, No. 7 Princeton, No. 10 Providence, No. 11 Iowa, No. 12 Florida State and No. 13 Wake Forest. Jenna Kingma was the top finisher for the women, placing 11th overall in the meet. On the men's side, the No. 20 Sun Devils placed 16th overall and were led by Aaron Aguayo, who placed 16th individually.

Last year, the women won the open division in the team race with 15 points as Sereena Harmon placed second overall behind only former ASU All-American Amy Hastings. On the men's side, only Shane Snyder competed for ASU, placing 10th overall individually.

The Sun Devil men, after a recalculation of the team scores, won the 22nd Arizona State Invitational last Friday afternoon at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, scoring 37 points with Arizona taking second with 88 points. Originally, Arizona won the race, but one of its runners was unattached and should not have figured into the scoring. Following the adjustment, the Sun Devils claimed their first team title since winning a trio of meets in 2005: the George Kyte Invitational, the ASU Invitational and Canyon West Classic (this week's meet).

Heading into the weekend, the Sun Devils are two weeks away from the start of the championship season that kicks off October 27 in Corvallis, Ore., with the 2007 Pac-10 Cross Country Championships. Based on the current USTFCCCA West Region rankings, the Arizona State women are third in the Pac-10 with Stanford ranked No. 1 and Oregon ranked No. 2. On the men's side, Oregon is No. 1, Stanford is No. 2, UCLA is No. 4, Washington is No. 5 and ASU is No. 7.

Three former Sun Devil women recently competed in the TUFTS Health Place 10k for Women on October 8 in Boston, Mass., which also served as the U.S. Women's 10k National Championship. In the race, Desiree Davila placed sixth overall in 33:22 and was followed by Amy Hastings in 11th (33:54) and Alvina Begay in 34th (35:23).

At the Dave Murray Invitational (September 14), 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.

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 October 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.

While Davila will compete for Team USA this month, another former Sun Devil distance runner is preparing to compete for one of the first Olympic berths as Fasil Bizuneh will run in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon on November 3 in New York City. Held around and near Central Park, the marathon will feature over 150 athletes competing for one of three spots on the Team USA roster. Bizuneh was a four-time All-American for the Sun Devils, including the first male to earn two national honors in cross country. Bizuneh also added a pair of All-America honors in the outdoor 10,000m run.

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.

Following a week off from competition next weekend, the Sun Devils will head to Corvallis, Ore., and Oregon State University to compete in the 2007 Pac-10 Championships on October 27. The meet will be held at the Trysting Tree Golf Club with the men's 8,000m race leading off at 9:30 a.m. and the women's 6,000m run at 10:30 a.m. closing out the competition.