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Cross country opens 2010 at Kyte Invite

September 01, 2010

Sun Devil Meet Notes (pdf)

The Arizona State University cross country team (No. 19 men/No. 30 women) will open its 2010 season this weekend as the Sun Devils are set to travel north to Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Saturday afternoon to compete in the George Kyte Invitational. The meet, hosted by Northern Arizona, will consist of two races with the women’s 5,000m run opening the event at 1:30 p.m. and the men’s 8,000m run closing the event at 2:15 p.m.

In the Rankings
The U.S. Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced the first rankings of the 2010 season this week, starting with the regional rankings on Monday and the national list on Tuesday. Nationally, the men will enter the season ranked No. 19 while the women will start off at No. 30 in the Top 30 poll. In the West Region, both Sun Devil teams are among the Top 5. The men are fourth behind Stanford, Oregon and Portland while the women are fifth behind Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona.

In the Field
Thirteen teams will line up for the George Kyte Invitational on Saturday, including NCAA Division I teams Arizona State, Arizona, UNLV (women only) and Northern Arizona; NCAA Division II teams Grand Canyon, Western New Mexico and West Florida; and NJCAA schools Central Arizona, Glendale CC, Mesa CC, Pima CC, Scottsdale CC and Estrella Mountain CC (a new program starting this season).

Meet History: George Kyte
Historically, the Sun Devils have had one individual winner and one team victory at the George Kyte Invitational with both coming at the 2005 event. The individual victory was recorded in the women’s 5,000m run by Jenna Wrieden as she covered the course in 17:56.8. The team victory was recorded by the men that same year as the Sun Devils scored 35 points for the win.

Meet Recap: 2009 George Kyte
Last year, the younger members on the roster made the trip north and competed as a ‘B’ team at the George Kyte Invitational with the men placing third and the women fourth while host Northern Arizona swept both team titles. Individually, Natasa Vulic was the top finisher for the ASU women as she covered the course in 18:11.8 while Collin Eckelman was the top male finisher for the Sun Devils as he took 11th in 26:18.7.

Alumni Report: Bizuneh, Aguilera Shining
Last week, a pair of former Sun Devil cross country All-Americans had highly successful races with Fasil Bizuneh winning a national title and Lisa Aguilera moving up the American women’s all-time Top 10 steeplechase list. First up was Aguilera, who competed in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Diamond League Meet in Brussels on Friday, where she ran 9:24.84 to improve upon her previous personal best of 9:28.75. The former American record holder in the event, who placed fifth in the race, also took over fifth on the all-time Top 10 list in American history with her performance. Back in the States, Bizuneh took to the streets of Flint, Mich., for the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship and finished fourth overall in 47:29. As the top American in the race, Bizuneh was crowned as the U.S. champion, giving him his first national title.

Hello My Name Is...
Heading into the 2010 season, there are 44 student-athletes on the Sun Devil rosters, including 22 women and 22 men. Of those 44 runners, 17 are new to the team this season, including seven women and 10 men. The women’s newcomers include transfers Alyssa Allison (Arkansas), Eliza Gawryluk (Northern Arizona) and Hailey Hanna (Mesa CC) and freshmen Nathalie Anaya (Windermere, Fla.), Christina Price (Tucson, Ariz.), Jade Riley (Glendale, Ariz.) and Kailey Rumbo (Phoenix, Ariz.). On the men’s side, the 10 newcomers are comprised of three transfers in Michael Rodriguez (ASU’s club team), Darius Terry (Northern Arizona) and Brian Yates (Queens Univ. of Charlotte) and freshmen Garrett Baker-Slama (Tempe), Andy Cannata (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Jared Gonzales (Chandler, Ariz.), Andrew Hagler (Chandler, Ariz.), Jesus Molina (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), Sean Newport (Tempe, Ariz.) and Jesus Rivera (Sedona, Ariz.).

The additions of Jade Riley and Kailey Rumbo to the Sun Devil roster this season not only gives Arizona State a pair of successful runners, but also reunites them with a pair of teammates from their days at Sandra Day O’Connor High School in Camille Olson and Lindsay Prescott. The last time the four women competed on the same cross country team came in 2006 when they captured the Arizona 5A-II state title with 28 points, nearly 60 points clear of runner-up Marana Mountain View (87 points). In that state championship race, Prescott won the individual crown with Olson taking second, Riley finishing fourth and Rumbo taking 15th.

Reunited, Too
Like the women, the men’s roster has some similar schools appearing, including a pair of high school teammates and a pair of teammates from another university. Last year, Cameron Liston joined the Sun Devils after running for Northern Arizona University and, this year, he is joined on the roster by Darius Terry, who also competed NAU. A pair of freshmen also are continuing their competitive careers together as both Jared Gonzales and Andrew Hagler both join the squad after running together at Chandler High School.

With Hard Work...
One of the new additions to the program this fall is Michael Rodriguez, who debuts for the Sun Devils as a fifth-year senior. In the past four years, Rodriguez continued to train toward his goal of making the Sun Devil squad by running with the Arizona State club team and even competed in several cross country and track & field events that the Sun Devils hosted during that time.

Welcome Back
Twenty-seven student-athletes return to the roster this year, including five seniors: Cherise McNair, Brianna Smith and Anna Sperry for the women and men’s runners Ben Engelhardt and Zeke Van Patten. Six returners are juniors with three women in Camille Olson, Lindsay Prescott and Kauren Tarver and men Dylan Hatcher, Cameron Liston and Daniel Lovell. The returning sophomores include women Courtney Golden, Catherine Loden, Kate Lydy, Stephanie Mundt, Natasa Vulic and Ashley Wimmer and men Matt Boughton, Nick Happe, Ben Jankunas, Mason McHenry and Doug Smith. The Sun Devils that were with the program last year and redshirted include women Karlee Owens, Natalie Todd and Liz Zuniga and men Matt Estlund and Steven Schnieders.

Youthful Roster
Of those 44 student-athletes on the roster this fall, only six are listed as senior (three men and three women) with only eight more runners (five women, three men) listed as juniors, giving Arizona State 30 freshmen and sophomores. The freshmen include nine true-freshmen and seven redshirt freshmen.

Take Me to Your Leader
Louie Quintana returns for his seventh year as the head coach of the Sun Devil cross country program, a program in which he took over on August 18, 2004. During his six years leading the distance group, Quintana has worked with seven individuals that earned 10 total All-America honors in cross country, including the program’s only three-time honoree Amy Hastings and, most recently, Brandon Bethke, who placed seventh nationally at the 2009 NCAA Championships. On the track, his athletes have been instrumental in helping the Sun Devils capture four national titles and three Pac-10 crowns. He has worked with three individuals that have collected four NCAA titles, including Kyle Alcorn, who won the indoor 3,000m run and the outdoor 3,000m steeplechase in 2008.

Lucky 13?
Heading into the season, the women’s program will look to continue it’s recent streak of success as the Sun Devils have advanced to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in each of the past 12 season, the third-longest active streak in the nation and the eighth-best all-time. Prior to making the field of 31 in 1998, the Sun Devil women had never competed as a team in the national event.

Turn Two
While the women have built an impressive streak of advancement to the NCAA meet, the men have competed in the event just six times overall, including last season, in which it placed 19th. By making the field of 31 this year, the men would advance to the national championships for the second year in a row, a feat that has happened only one other time when ASU was eighth in 2004 and 17th in 2005. The other national appearances the men made came in 1999, 2001 and 2007.

Review: 2009 Season - Women
The women advanced to their 12th-consecutive NCAA appearance and placed 24th overall as Allie Kieffer led the way by finishing 49th overall in the national race, missing All-America honors by just nine places. The team finished third in the Pac-10 and defeated Stanford for the first time at the Pac-10 meet, doing so by one point. They followed that up with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA West Region meet before earning an at-large selection to the NCAA meet. Individually, Kari Hardt, Anna Sperry, Lindsay Prescott and Kieffer all earned all-region honors while Hardt was the lone All-Pac-10 recipient. The team won the ASU Invitational and had one individual winner on the year as Sperry captured the Dave Murray Invitational in her first race with ASU after transferring in from BYU in the off-season.

Review: 2009 Season - Men
Brandon Bethke led the way for the Sun Devils as he took seventh overall at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors with the best finish by an ASU male in the meet’s history. Bethke, who placed second in the Pac-10 and seventh in the NCAA West Region, guided ASU to a third-place finish in the Pac-10 and tied for fifth in the region before taking 19th at the national meet. Ben Engelhardt, along with Bethke, were selected to the All-Pac-10 team while Bethke was the lone recipient of all-region accolades. The ‘B’ team won the ASU Invitational for the team’s lone victory of the season while Bethke’s runner-up showings at the Notre Dame and conference meets were the best finishes on the year for the men.

Academically Sound
Seven men and 12 women earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors following the 2009 cross country season with Ben Engelhardt, Ben Jankunas and Cameron Liston earning first-team honors for the men and Chelsea Caloia earning first-team accolades for the women. The USTFCCCA honored both squads as National All-Academic teams while Brandon Bethke, the 2009 Pac-10 Scholar of the Year, earned USTFCCCA All-Academic recognition.

Next Time Out
The Sun Devils will take one week off from competition before returning to the line on Friday, September 17, at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson. The meet is hosted by Arizona.