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ASU track & field heads to CSUN for NCAA West Region

May 28, 2008

The 2008 outdoor track and field season is nearing an end for the Arizona State University Sun Devils as the program is set to head to Northridge, Calif., this weekend (May 30-31) for the 2008 NCAA West Region Championships hosted by CS Northridge. The meet, which serves as the qualifier for the NCAA Outdoor Championships (June 11-14 in Des Moines, Iowa), will be contested at the Matador Track Complex.

The region meet is one of four being contested throughout the nation this weekend with the same stakes applied: the Top 5 finishers in individual events and the Top 3 relays will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Outdoor Championships. If an athlete or relay team is not in the Top 5 (or Top 3 for relays), there is still a chance for an at-large selection into the Championships as the NCAA will fill each event field from those individuals and relays that place in the Top 12 regionally. Those athletes competing in the 10,000m run and the heptathlon/decathlon do not compete at the regional event and will be selected for the NCAA Championships based upon their ranking in the national standings.

This academic year, the Pac-10 Conference began honoring one student-athlete from each sport to be recognized as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year, presented by Toyo Tires. This spring, April Kubishta was announced as the winner of the women's track and field honor after posting a 4.00 GPA in her post-graduate work while holding a 3.90 GPA throughout her undergraduate studies while obtaining her degree in Mathematics. To be eligible for the award, which donates $1,000 to the school's general scholarship fund, a student-athlete must be in his/her final year of eligibility, carry a 3.00 GPA or higher and compete in at least 50% of the team's scheduled competitions.

When the Sun Devils head to the NCAA West Region Championships, they will bring one of the largest groups in the nation. The 53 Sun Devils entered into the meet (28 women and 25 men) ranks as the third-largest combined team in the nation behind only the 65 Texas A&M (36 women/29 men) and 57 LSU (31 women/26 men) will take to the Mid-West and Mid-East Regions, respectively. Arizona State, which is tied with UCLA at 53 entries, ranks tied for fifth in the number of men's entries for the regional meet while the women are third nationally.

While the size of the team is large, the throwing events account for not only the most entries on the team, but also in the nation as the women's throwers have 11 entries (second is Minnesota at seven) while the men are tied for first with eight (with UCLA and Oregon).

Arizona State won four individual regional crowns in 2007 with three of those Sun Devils returning to the meet this weekend looking to defend their titles. Last year, April Kubishta won the pole vault, Jessica Pressley took the shot put and Sarah Stevens won the discus for the women with all three returning this weekend. The four victor last year came from Aaron Aguayo in the men's 3,000m steeplechase. Aguayo graduated last year.

This year's regional meet at CSUN marks the second time the Matadors have played host to the event with the first coming in 2004. At that meet, ASU swept all four relays while adding one individual crown as Aaron Aguayo won the men's 3,000m steeplechase. The other titles came from the women's 4x100m relay of Porchea Carroll, Cassandra Reed, Marcia Smith and Kandace Tucker, the women's 4x400m of Christina Hardeman, Reed, Smith and Tucker, the men's 4x100m relay of Seth Amoo, Lewis Banda, Steven Koehnemann and Domenik Peterson and the men's 4x400m relay of Amoo, Jason Barton, Steve Fitch and Peterson.

Arizona State holds five regional records with two earned last year while the other three came at the 2004 meet in Northridge. Individually, Aaron Aguayo set the standard in the 3,000m steeplechase at 8:33.67 last year while Jessica Pressley hit a toss of 17.84m last year in the shot put. The men's 4x100m relay (38.92m) and 4x400m relay (3:01.77) and the women's 4x400m relay (3:31.44) each established the meet record in 2004.

Arizona State's women became only the second team in Pac-10 history to win the conference crown three times in a row as the Sun Devils scored 186.5 points, the second-highest total in conference history (189.5 is the record). UCLA, which leads the league with 15 overall titles, had win streak of eight, four and three with the only other program to win multiple titles being Oregon, which won twice in a row. The Sun Devils' three titles also stands as the second-most in Pac-10 history.

For the second year in a row, the Sun Devil men came up short in the team standings as Oregon walked away with the title. The Ducks scored 144.5 points to defend their crown while the Sun Devils took second at 134, just 9.5 points off the leaders one year removed from finishing three points shy of the gold.

While the Sun Devils fell three points shy of UCLA's all-time point total of 189.5 (set in 1997), Arizona State did set a record as it recorded the largest margin of victory in Pac-10 Championships history. The Sun Devils' 69.5 margin over Stanford (186.5-117) is 8.5 points higher than UCLA's 1989 victory over Oregon (161-100) of 61 points. ASU nearly holds the record for lowest margin of victory as its 2.5 point win over Stanford in 2006 (154-151.5) is the second-smallest behind only UCLA's 2001 victory over USC, 155-153 (2.0 points).

The Sun Devils won a total of 12 events at the main portion of the Pac-10 Championships (not including the heptathlon/decathlon from the previous week), six by each gender, with two women and two men each winning two events. For the women, Charonda Williams swept the short sprints by capturing the 100m and 200m dash events while thrower Jessica Pressley doubled in the shot put and discus. On the men's side, Matt Turner won the long jump and the triple jump with Kyle Alcorn won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m run.

Darryl Elston had a hand in a pair of victories as he captured the 200m dash and ran one of the legs on the victorious 4x400m relay with Justin Kremer, Marquis Profit and Joel Phillip to round out the men's winners while the women saw Sarah Stevens win the hammer throw before the team of Jeavon Benjamin, Jordan Durham, Shauntel Elcock and Dominique' Maloy combined to take the 4x400m relay.

The Sun Devil men and women set victory records for the program at the Pac-10 Championships as both genders won the most titles in a single season in Arizona State history. The women collected seven total crowns (including Jacquelyn Johnson's heptathlon crown the week prior) while the men totaled six. The previous best for the women was five, which was recorded each of the past two meets while the men's previous best also was five, which was recorded in 2005.

With her sweep of the 100m and 200m dashes (11.45 and 23.09, respectively), Charonda Williams became the ninth woman in Pac-10 history to capture both events in the same meet. She also is the first Sun Devil to accomplish the feat.

Also for the ninth time in Pac-10 history, the shot put and discus champion for the women was the same as Jessica Pressley threw 18.79m and 55.93m, respectively, to win the double. It is the second time a Sun Devil has pulled of the feat as Sarah Stevens won both events last year at Stanford.

For only the ninth time since 1976 (when the 5,000m run replaced the 2-mile run), the same man won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m run in the same meet as Kyle Alcorn captured both for ASU. Alcorn won the steeplechase in 8:43.81 to give ASU the crown in that event for the fifth year in a row before coming back to take the 5,000m run in 14:12.76.

While the previous three doubles are quite remarkable, the final double carries a little more history as Matt Turner's wins in the long jump (7.84m) and triple jump (15.63m) made him only the fifth athlete to win both events in the same year since 1960 (48 years). He is the second Sun Devil to win both in the same year as Dwight Phillips did so as well in 1999.

In the women's shot put, Jessica Pressley not only won the event, she also placed herself among the elite throwers in the history of the collegiate ranks as her winning mark of 18.79m (61-07.75) stands as the second-best toss in Pac-10 history behind Valeyta Althouse of UCLA, who threw 18.85m in 1995. Pressley's mark, which meets the Olympic Games 'A' standard, also stands as the fifth-best toss in the history of the NCAA.

The Sun Devil women's program has some solid performances this year with many coming from the field events, especially the throws. That was evident at the Pac-10 Championships as five throwers combined to win three of the four throwing events and score a total of 74 points, a total that would have placed those five women in sixth place as a team in the overall standings. The discus saw ASU score 24 points as Jessica Pressley was first, Sarah Stevens second and Tai Battle third. The shot put produced 22 points with Pressley winning, Stevens taking second and Battle finishing fifth. The hammer throw earned 21 points with Stevens winning, Battle taking third and Pressley fourth. The javelin produced seven points with Jacquelyn Johnson taking third and Addison McGrath finishing eighth.

The women recorded eight marks that ranked among the Top 10 all-time in ASU history at the Pac-10 Championships while the men recorded seven with two of the women's marks standing as school records. Jessica Pressley's toss of 18.79m in the shot put and Jacquelyn Johnson's throw of 48.58m in the javelin are both school records.

The remaining marks that earned a place on the all-time Top 10 include three women's and one men's mark in the Top 3 all-time, including No. 2 all-time Addison McGrath in the javelin (46.77m) in just her second career meet in the event; third-ranked Tai Battle in the hammer (63.18m) and third-ranked Charonda Williams in the 200m dash (23.09) for the women and Tomas Navarro in the hammer (62.55m) for the men. Also ranking highly were Dominique' Maloy in the women's 200m dash (sixth at 23.28), Battle in the shot put (10th at 15.22m) and discus (seventh at 54.93m), Joel Phillip in the men's 400m dash (ninth at 45.29), Marquis Profit in the 400m hurdles (seventh at 51.12), Nectaly Barbosa in the 800m run (ninth at 1:48.83), Jeff Helmer in the 10,000m run (seventh at 30:36.58), Patrick Milloy in the 10,000m run (10th at 31:25.42) and Jeff Helwig in the hammer (seventh at 59.45m).

New to the Championships this year was the addition of the Pac-10 Athlete of the Meet Award, which will be given to the one man and one woman that score the most points overall. The Sun Devils swept the honors as Jacquelyn Johnson scored 33.5 points towards the women's team score while Matt Turner took the men's honor with 21 points, just one ahead of Kyle Alcorn. Johnson scored her points in the heptathlon (10 points for first), 100m hurdles (8 for second), long jump (8 for second), javelin (6 for third) and high jump (1.5 for seventh-place tie) while Turner scored 10 each in winning the long jump and triple jump with his one point for an eighth-place finish in the high jump giving him the one-point edge.

Arizona State's women have been dominant in championship events as they have won eight titles in a row dating back to the 2007 MPSF Indoor Championships. Since that meet, the Sun Devils have taken team titles at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, the 2007 Pac-10 Championships, the 2007 NCAA West Region Championships, the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the 2008 MPSF Indoor Championships, the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships and the 2008 Pac-10 Championships.

The latest rankings were released by the USTFCCCA on May 27 with the Sun Devil women and men holding steady at third and sixth, respectively, this week. LSU moved past Texas A&M for the top ranking on the women's side while the same order of LSU and Texas A&M remained on the men's side.

Three current and three former Sun Devils are among the Top 20 in the world standings this week, including Jacquelyn Johnson, who leads the world in the heptathlon with 6,307 points. Jessica Pressley's toss of 18.79m in the shot put at the Pac-10 Championships stands as the 12th best throw in the world while former Sun Devil Lisa Galaviz ranks 13th in the 3,000m steeplechase (9:43.18). On the men's side, current Devil Joel Phillip is 16th in the 400m dash (45.29) while former Sun Devils Dwight Phillips (8.25m/5th) and Trevell Quinley (8.00m/20th) rank in the men's long jump.

Based upon the entries into the regional meets, the national descending order list has changed with eight women's marks and seven men's ranking among the national Top 8 right now (not including the 10,000m run and the heptathlon/decathlon). For the women, Jessica Pressley is first in the shot put, third in the hammer and seventh in the discus while Sarah Stevens is fourth in the hammer, seventh in the shot put and eighth in the discus. April Kubishta is second in the pole vault and the 4x400m relay ranks seventh. On the men's side, Ryan Whiting is ranked fourth in the shot put and sixth in the discus while Kyle Alcorn is fourth in the steeplechase. Joel Phillip is fifth in the 400m dash, Matt Turner is fifth in the long jump, Brad Roth is eighth in the javelin and the 4x400m relay is fifth.

The Pac-10 meet opened last weekend with the women's heptathlon and men's decathlon competitions that saw Sun Devil senior Jacquelyn Johnson capture her third Pac-10 heptathlon crown with a score of 6,307 points. The senior won four of the seven heptathlon events to capture the crown, which was the fourth of her career (also won HJ in 2004).

Since the heptathlon was first contested at the Pac-10 Championships in 1987 (the same year the first women's championship was held for the Conference), only two women had won the event three times in a career until Jacquelyn Johnson added her name to the list. Tracye Lawyer (Stanford) was the first to accomplish the feat in 1997-1998-1999 before Ellannee Richardson (Washington State) pulled off the triple in 2001-2002-2003.

Johnson's winning score of 6,307 points last weekend not only gave her a third Pac-10 title in the heptathlon, it also broke several records. Her total bettered her school record score of 6,143 points set earlier in the season, bettered the Pac-10 record of 6,205 points scored by Diana Pickler (Washington State) last year, bettered the Pac-10 meet record of 6,018 points scored by Pickler last year and broke Gea Johnson's (ASU) Sun Angel Stadium record of 6,129 points scored in 1990. The 6,307 points scored also ranks as the third-highest total in NCAA history and the best score by a collegiate competitor since 1995.

With her heptathlon crown, Jacquelyn Johnson tied Tonya Sedwick (UCLA) for the most titles won by a mutli-event athlete in Pac-10 history at four. Johnson won the heptathlon in 2004, 2006 and 2008 while also adding the high jump crown in 2004. Sedwick won the heptathlon in 1989 and 1991 while adding long jump titles both years.

With her record score and victory at the Pac-10 Multi-Event Championships over the weekend, Jacquelyn Johnson was named the Pac-10 Women's Field Athlete of the Week. It is the second time this year that Johnson has been honored with the field honor and the fifth overall for the Sun Devil program.

The Sun Devils swept the Double Dual in Tucson over the weekend as Arizona State defeated intrastate rivals Arizona and Northern Arizona. The Sun Devils won 26 events (13 by each gender) while recording 43 regional qualifying marks (23 for the women and 20 for the men). Jacquelyn Johnson and Jessica Pressley each won three events for the women while Calvin Abram, Marquis Profit, Matt Turner and Ryan Whiting each won a pair.

Eight field events were contested at the Double Dual, including the long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, hammer, shot put, discus and javelin. Of the 16 possible titles, the Sun Devils combined to win 13 crowns, including sweeps of the long jump (Jacquelyn Johnson & Matt Turner), pole vault (April Kubishta & Corey Phallen), shot put (Jessica Pressley & Ryan Whiting), discus (Pressley & Whiting) and javelin (Lissa Regets & Brad Roth). The other wins came from Johnson in the women's high jump, Turner in the men's triple jump and Pressley in the women's hammer.

Jessica Pressley won the hammer, discus and shot put in Tucson with two of her marks making a big splash. In the hammer, she launched the ball 68.31m to break the school record and move up to No. 2 in the history of the Pac-10. She followed that up with a win in the discus with a toss of 54.24m before closing out the day with a victory in the shot put with a nation-leading mark of 17.62m.

While Pressley moved up to No. 2 in the hammer on the all-time Pac-10 list, April Kubishta did some moving of her own in the pole vault as the senior cleared a height of 14-02.00 (4.32m) to not only shatter her own school record, but also move into a tie for the sixth-highest clearance in conference history. Kubishta, the national leader and among the Top 15 in the world currently, is the only Sun Devil to clear 14-feet both indoors and out.

Jacquelyn Johnson joined Jessica Pressley as winners of three events at the Double Dual when she captured the 100m hurdles (13.27), the high jump (1.80m) and the long jump 6.26m). Johnson also took second in the javelin (44.11m).

Of the 13 wins recorded by the women, six came in the sprints (one event, the 4x100m relay, was not contested). Charonda Williams won the 100m (11.41) with the third-fastest time in school history before taking the 200m dash (23.38); Jeavon Benjamin won the 400m dash in 53.48; Jacquelyn Johnson won the 100m hurdles (13.27); Roshawnda Brown won the 400m hurdles (1:03.76) and the 4x400m relay won in 3:50.57 running by themselves.

The MPSF announced its annual indoor academic honors this week with nine Sun Devil men and seven women earning placement on the list. The men's honorees included Kyle Alcorn, Ben Engelhardt, Andy Haas, Joey Heller, Jeff Helmer, Jeff Helwig, Justin Kremer, Jason Lewis and Ryan Whiting while the women's honorees included Jacquelyn Johnson, Ali Kielty, Jenna Kingma, April Kubishta, D'Metra Macedon, Sarah Stevens and Alana Waterford.

On March 14-15, the Sun Devils traveled 21 student-athletes to the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships and returned with both the men's and women's national team titles, accomplishing the feat for just the second time in NCAA history (LSU did so in 2004). The women scored 51 points with LSU finishing second with 43 points in the women's race while the men edged out favorite Florida State, 44-41, for their first indoor team crown.

The titles earned by the Sun Devil men and women are the 134th and 135th national titles captured by Arizona State in school history. The wins are the 39th and 66th national titles for the men and women, respectively, while 30 other titles were won in coed events (20 in mixed archery and 10 in mixed badminton).

With the team victory, the Sun Devil women successfully defended their first national tittle won last year when the team captured the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The Sun Devils, ranked No. 1 last year, edged No. 2 LSU, 38-33, to win their first indoor crown. This year, the rankings were reversed, but the Sun Devils still won.

With 44 points, the Sun Devil men won their first indoor championship and became the 14th different men's program to capture the indoor crown since the NCAA began sponsoring an indoor meet in 1965. The title is the second in program history for the men as the 1977 team captured the outdoor championship, the first team title in ASU track & field history.

The men's team victory at the NCAA Indoor Championships marked the first men's team title earned for the Sun Devil athletic department since 1996 when the men's golf team captured their second championship (also won in 1990). Prior to the women winning last year and this year, the previous Sun Devil national champions were the 1998 women's golf team.

The women's team, which is one of only seven programs to win an NCAA indoor title since the association began sponsoring the event in 1983, repeated as national champions, marking just the fifth time in NCAA history that a team has won back-to-back titles. The last to do so was LSU (2002-2003-2004). The other schools to do so were UCLA (2000-2001), LSU (1993-1994-1995-1996-1997) and Nebraska (1983-1984).

The women's team was not the only repeat winners on the weekend for the Sun Devils as Jacquelyn Johnson secured her third indoor pentathlon crown in a row, scoring a collegiate and meet record 4,496 points. In her career, Johnson has three titles and one runner-up finish (second as a true freshman in 2004).

When Jacquelyn Johnson successfully defended her indoor pentathlon crowns she won at the 2006 and 2007 NCAA meets, she became just the ninth woman to win the same event three times in a career at the indoor championships and the second Sun Devil, joining Maicel Malone, who won the 400m dash in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Other three-time champions include Regina Cavanaugh of Rice (shot put, 1984-85-86), Suzy Favor of Wisconsin (mile, 1987-89-90), Vicki Huber of Villanova (3,000m, 1987-88-89), Carlette Guidry of Texas (55m, 1988-90-91), Amy Wickus of Wisconsin (800m, 1993-94-95), Amy Acuff of UCLA (high jump, 1994-95-96) and Trecia Smith of Pittsburgh (long jump, 1997-98-99).

The teams and Johnson were not the only champions over the weekend as two men captured individual titles in remarkable fashion. Ryan Whiting led off by winning the shot put with a huge toss of 71-03.50 (21.73m) to set the collegiate record in the event. In the second-to-last event of the meet, Kyle Alcorn stormed to the front of the pack late in the 3,000m race to capture the national crown and put the Sun Devils in a position to win the team title.

Jacquelyn Johnson and Ryan Whiting both set collegiate records in winning their national crowns over the weekend. Johnson, who entered the meet with a best of 4,312 points in the pentathlon, ended the meet with 4,496 points, breaking the collegiate record of 4,439 points set in 2002 by Austra Skuyte (Kansas State) and bettering the meet mark of 4,412 points scored by Hyleas Fountain (Georgia) in 2004 when she defeated Johnson for the first NCAA pentathlon crown.

While Johnson broke a record that was set a few years ago, Whiting broke the 31 year-old mark of Terry Albritton (Stanford), who threw 70-06.50 (21.50m) in 1977. Whiting, who recorded a toss of 71-03.50 (21.73m) on his final throw of the competition, is now the collegiate, meet and Pac-10 indoor record holder while ranking third all-time on the Pac-10 lists as two marks recorded outdoors are ahead of Whiting.

Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium went under the knife recently as the home of Arizona State University track and field was resurfaced with the latest product from Mondo, Mondotrack FTX. ASU's home venue is the first in the world to be surfaced with the product, which also will be installed at Beijing's Olympic Stadium in time for the 2008 Summer Games. Along with the new surface came an expanded shot put area and the addition of a second 'D' zone (at the north end of the infield). The majority of the surface will be maroon/red in color with the only exceptions being the three exchange zones on the track and the non-runway areas of both 'D' zones, which will be gold. The project was complete Jan. 29.

Those that qualify, both automatically and as at-large selections (announced June 4), will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, and Drake University for the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, June 11-14.