Harriers travel south for Dave Murray Invite
The Arizona State University cross country teams will travel south this week for competition as the Sun Devils will once again take part in the Dave Murray Invitational that will be hosted by rival Arizona in Tucson. The meet, which will be held at Dell Urich Golf Course Friday, September 17, will feature two races with the men running 4.25 miles at 5 p.m. followed by the women competing in a 3-mile race at 5:45 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 moved up two positions from their initial preseason ranking to ranked No. 17 this week while the women, who started off at No. 30, slipped just outside the Top 30 poll, but are still receiving votes. In the West Region, both Sun Devil teams are among the Top 5 with both remaining where they were in the preseason release. The men are fourth behind Stanford, Oregon and Portland while the women are fifth behind Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona.
In the Field
The Dave Murray Invitational will feature a handful of teams from within the state, including the Sun Devils and Wildcats. The other teams entered into the meet include Pima CC, Grand Canyon, Mesa CC, Glendale CC, Paradise Valley CC and several smaller club teams.
Meet History: Dave Murray
Historically, the Sun Devils have won the Dave Murray Invitational team title on three occasions with the women winning twice and the men once. Both team swept the top position in 2008 while the women also won in 2007.
In the history of the women’s program, Sun Devil runners have collected 30 individual cross country victories dating back to 1980 with six of those wins coming at the Dave Murray Invitational, including the last three. Last year, Anna Sperry won the race in her first competition in an ASU uniform with Ali Kielty (2008) and Jenna Kingma (2007) winning the two previous races. Brooke Bennett won in 2005 while Amy Hastings was a two-time victor, taking the titles in both 2003 and 2004. The men have not won the individual title at the Murray meet, although Brent Steiner won the Arizona Invitational in 1980, a meet that was held in Tucson.
Meet Recap: 2009 Dave Murray
Last year, Anna Sperry won the women’s race in her first run as a Sun Devil while three women and three men placed among the races’ Top 10 in Tucson. The women’s team placed second overall while the men were third. Individually, Sperry, who won in 17:03, was followed by Top 10 finishers Lindsay Prescott (17:20) and Angela Spadafino (17:27), who placed seventh and 10th, respectively. Spadafino’s finish led a close bunching of teammates at the tape as ASU runners also placed 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 17th. In the men’s race, Ben Engelhardt was the top Sun Devil finisher as he placed fifth overall in 21:14 with Jeff Helmer (21:33) and Patrick Milloy (21:40) also finishing in the Top 10, taking sixth and ninth, respectively. The men also had a trio of runners that competed unattached who also placed in the Top 15, including Doug Smith (10th), Nick Happe (12th) and Zeke Van Patten (15th).
Looking to Break Through
When Sperry won the Dave Murray Invitational last year, she captured the 30th individual title in women’s program history and gave the women at least one race victory in each of the last three seasons six in the last seven. While the women have had individual success, the men are looking to break a drought that has lasted since the 2001 season when Juan Reyes won the UC Irvine-Asics Invitational. In the time between now and Reyes’ victory, the women have captured 13 race titles.
Two weeks ago, the Sun Devils opened their season by running in the George Kyte Invitational in Flagstaff, Ariz. (September 4) with both squads using the event as a training run through the high-altitude course. Although the Sun Devils were only getting in a work out, they still fared well in the overall results as the women were second overall and the men fourth. Individually, the men stayed together throughout the run and finished within one second of one another, led by Daniel Lovell, who took 19th overall in 28:12.4. He was followed consecutively in the standings by Doug Smith (28:12.7), Darius Terry (28:12.9), Cameron Liston (28:13.1) and Ben Engelhardt (28:13.3). On the women’s side, the group came across the line in two bunches, first with Linsday Prescott (sixth) leading the way in 18:49.1 and followed by Anna Sperry (18:49.5) and Alyssa Allison (18:50.1) to go 6-7-8, respectively. The second group included Kauren Tarver (19:06.1), Karlee Owens (19:06.8) and Kate Lydy (19:38.1).
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.
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. The State Press recently wrote a feature on Rodriguez (statepress.com), which ran on September 15.
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.
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 meet. 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.
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.
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.
Next Time Out
The Sun Devil women will be back in action in Minnesota next weekend as they travel to the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, September 25, a meet they have won five times previously. The men are off until October 1.