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Harriers set to run in local competition, Pre-National Meet

October 15, 2008

A pair of meets await the Arizona State University cross country teams this weekend, including a trip to the site of the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships that will be held later in the season. First up, several Sun Devils and numerous unattached individuals will return to Kiwanis Park on Friday morning for the Mesa Thunderbird Invitational starting at 7 a.m. The remainder of the team will venture east to Terre Haute, Ind., to take part in the 2008 NCAA Pre-National Meet on Saturday morning starting at 11:35 a.m. EST (8:35 a.m. Arizona).

The U.S. Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released the national rankings for week three on October 14 with the Sun Devil women remaining eighth in the Top 30 while the men were again unranked. The women also remained fourth in the West region poll while the men held their No. 9 position.

The gain acceptance in the NCAA Championships (November 24), teams will need to either finish among the Top 2 in their respective regions (automatic berth) or be selected as one of 13 at-large teams. With many of the top teams in the nation set to compete at the Pre-National meet, the Sun Devils can look to not only face some the best, but also try to finish ahead of many of them to earn points toward a possible at-large selection should the fail to finish in the Top 2 at the NCAA West Region Championships on November 15.

The NCAA Pre-National Meet will feature 83 women's and 81 men's teams competing with each gender running two races with roughly 40 teams running. The Sun Devil men and women have both been placed in the 'white' race, the second of the races that will follow the 'blue' race (races are named for the host school's colors). The women will run in the 6,000m race starting at 11:35 a.m. EST (8:35 a.m. Arizona) while the men are slated to run the 8,000m course at 12:50 p.m. EST (9:50 a.m. Arizona). While only seven athletes can run for the team in each race, several Sun Devils will run in the open races with the women's open race set for 1:30 p.m. and the men's at 2:05 p.m. (visit for more info)

In the women's division, 23 of the teams in the October 14 Top 30 will be on hand to compete, as will nine other teams that have received votes in the national poll (just outside of the Top 30). The men's division will be equally as difficult with 24 of the Top 30 slated to run, including eight teams receiving votes this week.

The Sun Devil women are the third-highest ranked team in the 'white' race at No. 8 with only No. 3 Florida State and No. 5 Princeton ahead of the Sun Devils. Other ranked teams in the race include Michigan (11), Stony Brook (12), Baylor (14), Illinois (17), Georgetown (19). Northern Arizona (22) and Syracuse (30) in the Top 30 and four teams that are receiving votes this week: Colorado, Colorado State, Notre Dame and UC Riverside. Pac-10 foes Cal and UCLA also are in the 'white' race.

The unranked Sun Devil men will be in a race with 11 teams ranked in the Top 30 and four others that received votes this week, led by Top 10 teams No. 3 Colorado, No. 7 Iona and No. 10 Stanford. Other ranked teams in the 'white' race include Iowa State (11), Virginia (12), Auburn (16), BYU (18), Tulsa (19), Texas (21), UCLA (23) and Michigan State (30) along with the following teams receiving votes: Florida, Indiana, UTEP and Washington. Regional foes UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara are also in the 'white' race with host Indiana State.

The Sun Devil women finished second (among 35 teams) to Princeton (149-171) and the men scored 305 points and finished ninth overall (out of 40 teams) at the 2007 NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind. Jenna Kingma was the top finisher for the women as she placed ninth overall in 20:27 while the men were led by Kyle Alcorn, who placed 19th overall in 23:45. One month later on the same course at the NCAA Championships, the women earned a trophy with their fourth-place finish while the men placed 26th.

In the four previous trips to the NCAA Pre-National Meet under Head Coach Louie Quintana (2004-07), the Sun Devil women have finished no lower than third, taking runner-up honors twice and the bronze twice while the ASU men have finished in the Top 20 all four times, including fourth in 2004 and ninth last year. The men placed 17th in 2005 and 16th in 2006. Since the 2000 meet, the women have finished in the Top 10 in all seven races run (ASU did not compete in the 2003 meet) with placements of third in 2001, fourth in 2000 and eighth in 2002. The men added two Top 10 finishes with an eighth place showing in 2002 and ninth in 2001 after taking 28th in 2000.

Since Quintana took the reigns of the program, Arizona State's women have run eight races on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., including four NCAA Championship meets and four NCAA Pre-National meets. In that time, the women have placed outside of the Top 4 only two times: ninth at the 2004 NCAA Championships and 13th at the 2006 NCAA Championships. The team placed fourth and earned a national trophy in both 2007 and 2005 to accompany their two second-place and two third-place finishes in the Pre-National meet.

For those fans that plan to come out and watch the Sun Devils on Friday morning at the Mesa Thunderbird Invitational at Kiwanis Park, this year's race may be something you are not accustomed to seeing: the men and women will be running in the same race at the same time. That's right, both genders will toe the line at the same time and compete in a 5,000m race around Kiwanis Park. The single race will start at 7 a.m.

Here are seven notes that came out of the running of the 23rd Joe Uff/ASU Invitational on October 3 at Tempe Kiwanis Park:
1k - Freshman Kate Lydy (running unattached from ASU) won the women's 5,000m run in only her second collegiate race (18:20.3)
2k - Four of ASU's true freshmen women (all running unattached to the team) placed among the Top 10, including three runners in the Top 6
3k - Lydy's win is the third for a member of the ASU program this year (Ali Kielty, Dave Murray Invitational & Kari Hardt, Roy Griak Invitational)
4k - Alonso Contreras (running unattached) placed second in the men's race and became one of just 25 men to ever run the race in under 25 minutes (24:58.3)
5k - Rookie Matt Boughton (unattached) placed sixth in his second college race, running under 26 minutes in his first 8,000m race
6k - New Mexico State swept both titles, marking only the ninth time in 23 years that the same school won both races
7k - Nicholas Kipruto (Dine College) set a meet record by winning the men's 8,000m run in 23:51.3, bettering the previous mark by eight seconds

For the third meet in a row, a member of the Sun Devils' women's team won her first collegiate cross country race with this week's newcomer to the winner's circle being true freshman Kate Lydy who won the 23rd Joe Uff/ASU Invitational at Kiwanis Park on October 3 in a winning time of 18:20.3. Lydy, running unattached to ASU, joins new winners Kari Hardt and Ali Kielty, who won the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota (September 27) and the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson (September 19), respectively.

With their No. 8 national ranking, the women extended their current streak to 77 weeks in a row that they have appeared in the poll, dating back to a No. 15 ranking on October 12, 1998. Since that ranking, the Sun Devils have spent 77 weeks in the Top 30 and their 13th week in a row in the Top 10. The Sun Devils' ranking this week also marks the 50th time they have been ranked among the Top 10 nationally.

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 Jenna Kingma and Ali Kielty 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 Sunni Olding (2004 and 2005 at Notre Dame) and Haley Paul (2005 at Washington State).

By earning a berth into the NCAA Championships as an at-large selection in 2007, the Sun Devil women extended their current streak to 10 years in a row at the national meet, keeping them tied with North Carolina for the sixth-longest active streak in the nation. BYU and Providence lead the way with 19 years in a row and are followed by Colorado (16), Stanford (15) and NC State (13).

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. Kyle Alcorn, 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 Nectaly Barbosa (800m) and Joey Heller (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.

The Sun Devils will take a weekend off from competition to prepare for the championship portion of the season that begins on October 31 with the Pac-10 Conference Championships. The meet will be held at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ore., and will be hosted by Oregon. Originally slated for November 1 but changed due to the Oregon high school championships being the same day, this year's Pac-10 meet will start with the women's 6,000m run at 2:15 p.m. while the men's 10,000m run will conclude the meet with a 3:15 p.m. start time.