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National champs open outdoor track & field season

March 20, 2008

Following a historical end to the indoor season, the Arizona State University track and field program will open its outdoor season this weekend as the Sun Devils are set to play host to the 2008 Baldy Castillo Invitational Friday and Saturday on Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe. The hammer will be conducted Friday night (5 p.m.) while all other events will be contested Saturday (field events at noon and running events at 5:30 p.m.).

Last weekend, 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.

Arizona State's women have been dominant over the course of the past year as the Sun Devils have won seven championship meets in a row. Those meets include the 2007 MPSF Indoor Championships, 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 and the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships.

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 (took 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.

Needing some big points in the 3,000m run at the end of the meet, Kyle Alcorn stepped onto the track as the 14th-ranked runner in the race. Alcorn surged ahead mid-way through the race and took the lead before relinquishing it. Sitting in fifth place with two laps to go, Alcorn again surged ahead and captured the lead that he held onto for the remainder of the race, crossing the line in 8:00.82 to not only win his first national title, but giving ASU 10 team points and tying it with Florida State at 38 points heading into the 4x400m relay.

With the team race down to ASU and FSU and only the 4x400m relay remaining, all the Sun Devils had to do was finish ahead of the Seminoles in the standings of the race to secure a team crown. In the three-heat race, FSU ran first and clocked a time of 3:07.47, meaning ASU had to finish faster, which it did as Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Joel Phillip clocked in at 3:06.34 to win the third heat and place third overall, pushing FSU to sixth in the race and giving ASU the team title.

The United States Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced its national award winners following the NCAA Indoor Championships with four Sun Devils garnering five of the eight national accolades available. Greg Kraft was selected as the Women's National and Men's National Coach of the Year; David Dumble was voted the Women's National Assistant Coach of the Year; Jacquelyn Johnson was named the Women's National Field Athlete of the Year; and Ryan Whiting was selected as the Men's National Field Athlete of the Year.

The women had three runner-up finishes and the men added a pair to help both teams to victory in Fayetteville. On the men's side, second-place finishes were recorded by April Kubishta (pole vault), Sarah Stevens (shot put) and Jessica Pressley (weight throw) while the men's second-place finishers included Joel Phillip (400m dash) and the distance medley relay of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly BarbosaKyle Alcorn. and

From the results recorded at the NCAA Indoor Championships, five women's marks and three men's rank among the Top 5 all-time in ASU history, including three women's and two men's school records. On the women's side, school-records went to April Kubishta in the pole vault (4.30m), Jessica Pressley in the weight throw (22.04m) and Jacquelyn Johnson in the pentathlon (4,496 points) while the men's records included Ryan Whiting in the shot put (21.73m) and the distance medley relay of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly Barbosa and Kyle Alcorn. Both 4x400m relays rank among the Top 3, including the second-best time of 3:33.53 by the women (Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock, Jordan Durham, Jeavon Benjamin) and the third-best time of 3:06.34 by the men (Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Kremer, Joel Phillip). The final Top 3 mark came from Johnson in the 60m hurdles (8.23).

Overall, nine women and nine men each earned All-America honors from the USTFCCCA, including two women and four men that earned two honors each. Multiple honors were earned by Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon & long jump) and Jessica Pressley (shot put & weight throw) for the women and men's competitors Kyle Alcorn (3,000m & DMR), Jimmie Gordon (400m & 4x400m), Justin Kremer (4x400m & DMR) and Joel Phillip (400m & 4x400m). Other women's All-Americans included Jeavon Benjamin (4x400m), Jordan Durham (4x400m), Shauntel ElcockStephanie Garnett (long jump), April Kubishta (pole vault), Dominique' Maloy (4x400m) and Sarah Stevens (shot put) while the men included Nectaly Barbosa (DMR), Darryl Elston (4x400m), Joey Heller (DMR), Matt Turner (long jump) and Ryan Whiting (shot put). (4x400m),

The 2008 NCAA Championships will be broadcast next Thursday (March 20) from 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. PST on ESPN2 (check local listings).

On March 30, former Sun Devil Amy Hastings will represent the United States as a member of the 2008 Team USA World Cross Country squad that will head to Edinburgh, Great Britain, for the 36th IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Hastings, a 10-time All-American at Arizona State, will be running for Team USA for the first time in her career.

Following the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend, two men and three women ended the indoor season with marks ranking in the Top 20 on the world lists. For the men, Ryan Whiting ranks third in the shot put with a toss of 21.73m while Joel Phillip stands 10th in the 400m dash at 46.27. On the women's side, Jessica Pressley and Sarah Stevens both are Top 15 in the weight throw with Pressley ranking fourth at 22.04m and Stevens in 13th at 20.94m. Jacquelyn Johnson is 16th in the pentathlon with 4,496 points.

Heading into the national meet, a trio of Sun Devils were honored with awards for their performances so far this indoor season. The United States Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) selected Jacquelyn Johnson as the Women's West Region Field Athlete of the Year, picked head coach Greg Kraft as the Women's West Region Coach of the Year and chose throws coach David Dumble as the Women's West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. All three are now eligible for the national honor that will be announced following the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend.

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) announced its annual awards Tuesday with the Sun Devils taking three of the four honors. Greg Kraft was selected as the MPSF Women's Coach of the Year while Jacquelyn Johnson was named the MPSF Women's Athlete of the Year and Ryan Whiting was named the MPSF Men's Athlete of the Year. The honor is the first for Whiting and Johnson and the second in a row for Kraft. Sarah Stevens won the women's athlete honor last year.

The shot put event has been good to the Sun Devils in recent years and this year looks to be no different this year under coach David Dumble. Last season, six All-America honors were earned with Sarah Stevens, Jessica Pressley and Ryan Whiting each earning the accolade at both the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor meets. During the indoor season, Ryan Whiting led the nation and set a collegiate record with the third-best throw in the world so far this year at 21.73m while Sarah Stevens (second) and Jessica Pressley (fifth) also finished well at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

With 154.5 points and seven individual champions, the Sun Devil women won their second MPSF Championships in a row, beating out runner Stanford, who scored 141 points. The win also was the sixth team title in a row for ASU, building off the five they won in 2007.

While the women's team captured its second MPSF Championships title in a row, Sarah Stevens did a repeat performance of her own as she won the shot put and the weight throw for the second year in a row.

Stevens was joined by Jacquelyn Johnson as the only multiple victors for the Sun Devils. Johnson won the 60m hurdles and the long jump individually before joining Jeavon Benjamin, Shauntel Elcock and Dominique' Maloy in taking the 4x400m. Other champions for the team included April Kubishta (pole vault) and Charonda Williams (200m).

Three men's titles were won as well, including Ryan Whiting (shot put), Jeff Helmer (5,000m) and the 4x400m of Jimmie Gordon, Joel Phillip, Darryl Elston and Justin Kremer.

Jeff Helmer made his first collegiate race a memorable one as he clocked a time of 14:01.83 to win the MPSF Championship in the 5,000m run and provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships. Currently, he ranks 18th in the nation.

The shot put is not the only field event that has been producing lately. Under coach Greg Kraft, the long jump has been a strong event for ASU and that trend looks to continue this year. Currently, Matt Turner is ranked fourth in the NCAA (7.85m) while Jacquelyn Johnson (6.50m) and Stephanie Garnett (6.42m) are fifth and ninth, respectively. Outside the NCAA, Kraft has worked with 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Dwight Phillips and, most recently, former Sun Devil Trevell Quinley won the 2008 USATF Indoor Championships before placing 13th at the IAAF World Championships in Valencia.

Justin Kremer came to Tempe from a small school in Grand Canyon, Ariz., and has blossomed into one of the top quarter-milers in the nation this year. Kremer played a role in helping the 4x400m relay qualify for the NCAA Championships, and when he arrived at the meet, helped both the 4x400m and distance medley relays place among the Top 3 nationally, earning his first two All-America honors. On the first day, Kremer ran the sprint leg of the DMR, helping the Sun Devils to a school-record time of 9:32.49 and a national runner-up placement before running the third leg of the third-place 4x400m relay that secured the team title for the Sun Devils.

The United States Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced their cross country academic honorees this week with the Sun Devil women garnering accolades. Individually, Ali Kielty and Jenna Kingma were two of the 91 women to earn USTFCCCA All-Academic honors and joined their teammates as one of 35 teams nationally to earn team distinctions with a 3.50 grade point average or higher.

At the Washington Invite (Feb. 2), Sun Devil senior Kyle Alcorn clocked a time of 3:59.82 in the mile to become only the third Sun Devil runner to break the four-minute mark in the event and just the second indoors. Alcorn is second on the ASU indoor lists behind Brandon Strong, who ran 3:59.59 in 2002, and is third overall in ASU history behind the 3:56.4 turned in by Chuck LaBenz in 1970.

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.

Along with the numerous team titles and All-America honors attained in 2007, several individuals were honored with awards at the conference, region and national levels. During the 2007 indoor season, Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon) and former NCAA Champion Maicel Malone (400m dash) were selected to the NCAA Division I Silver Anniversary Team, which recognized one outstanding athlete per indoor event from the first 25 years the national organization had conducted championship events. The United States Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) honored a trio of Sun Devils last year as head coach Greg Kraft was named the USTFCCCA Women's National and West Region Coach of the Year while West Region Athlete of the Year honors went to Sarah Stevens (field events) and Amy Hastings (track events). Kraft and Stevens also were honored by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the indoor conference ASU participates in, by selecting the duo as the MPSF Women's Coach and MPSF Female Athlete of the Year, respectively.

The outdoor season saw plenty of other awards garnered by the Sun Devil women, including USTFCCCA Women's National, West Region and West District Coach of the Year honors for Greg Kraft; Women's National and West Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors for David Dumble; USTFCCCA Women's West Region and West District Field Athlete of Year honors for Sarah Stevens; the Pac-10 Medal of Honor for Amy Hastings; Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year for Kraft; and Pac-10 Women's Field Athlete of the Year for Stevens. Stevens also was selected as one of three finalists for the Honda Sports Award, given annually to the top athlete in each sport in the NCAA.

Athletic honors were not the only awards attained during the year as the Sun Devils placed 20 women and 10 men on the Pac-10 All-Academic lists while seven women and two men earned MPSF All-Academic recognition for the indoor season. A total of 13 student-athletes (10 women and three men) were selected for USTFCCCA National All-Academic honors while three women -- Brooke Bennett, April Kubishta and Sarah Stevens -- earned ESPN The Magazine All-District VIII honors. The USTFCCCA also bestowed three more prestigious academic honors on the Sun Devils following the 2007 season as the women's team earned USTFCCCA Women's Division I All-Academic Team honors before being selected as the 2007 USTFCCCA Women' Indoor and Outdoor All-Academic Team of the Year. Individually, Stevens was selected as the USTFCCCA Women's Indoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

A total of 29 (13 women and 16 men) student-athletes are members of the program for the first time this year, including 15 true freshmen (seven women and eight men). Also in the group of newcomers are five women and eight men that transferred into the program with two of those women and six of the men coming from junior and/or community colleges. The final new addition to the program comes via the Sun Devil water polo program as Addison McGrath will participate for both teams this spring.

While the student-athlete roster welcomed 29 newcomers this year, the coaching staff also added a few new additions with a trio of new coaches now on staff. Kenny McDaniel was hired on from Cal State Fullerton and will work with the women's sprints, hurdles and relays following the departure of Dion Miller (Texas Tech). A pair of new graduate assistant coaches are now on staff as Ryan Cole and former Sun Devil NCAA Champion and All-American Victoria Jackson joined the program, replacing the departed Jeremy Rasmussen (Illinois) and Rhonda Riley (Vanderbilt), both of whom attained coaching positions at their respective schools. Both Cole and Jackson will work with the distance, mid-distance and cross country runners throughout the year while also maintaining the day-to-day operations of the program.

Several of the team's newcomers have already made an impact this year as members of a cross country program that qualified both a women's and men's team to the 2007 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. At the meet, the women finished fourth overall to earn their second trophy (Top 4 finishers) in three years while the men, who entered the meet ranked 30th, finished 26th overall. Dating back to the 2005 cross country national meet (three cross country seasons, two indoor track & field seasons and two outdoor track & field seasons), the Sun Devil women have accumulated six trophies, including two national titles (2007 indoor and 2007 outdoor), one third-place finish (2006 indoor) and three fourth-place showings (2005 and 2007 cross country and 2006 outdoor).

A pair of former Sun Devils turned in record performances last year on the track with Amy Hastings setting the American collegiate record in the indoor 5,000m run while the outdoor season saw Lisa Galaviz (formerly Aguilera) set the America record in the 3,000m steeplechase. Hastings, a 10-time All-American including three in 2007, ran 15:30.17 at the Husky Classic in Seattle during the indoor season which was the fastest time run by an American collegiate women in NCAA history as Kim Smith of Providence (foreign athlete) holds the NCAA record at 15:14.18. Outdoors, Galaviz traveled to a meet in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, and clocked in at 9:28.75 to set the new standard among American women.

At the end of August, Osaka, Japan, played host to the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics with five athletes with ties to the Arizona State program competing. Current Sun Devil Sarah Stevens placed third at the USA Championships in the shot put to earn a World berth, where she placed 22nd overall. Her teammate, Jessica Pressley, placed fourth in the U.S. meet, missing the World team by one place. On the men's side, Dwight Phillips earned a bronze medal in the long jump after winning the U.S. meet while Trevell Quinley (third at the U.S. meet) was 12th in Osaka. Aaron Aguayo, who placed second at the U.S. meet, finished 20th in the 3,000m steeplechase, while Seth Amoo, who was representing Ghana, advanced to the qualifying rounds of the 200m dash.

2008 PAC-10 HOSTS
The 2008 Pac-10 Championships will be held at Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium this year with events being contested on two separate weekends. The women's heptathlon and men's decathlon will take place on May 9-10 with the remainder of the events being held one week later, May 16-17.

The Sun Devils will play host to its second outdoor meet next weekend when they welcome teams to the Arizona State Invitational on March 29-30 at Sun Angel Stadium.