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NCAA Championships await Sun Devil cross country

November 18, 2009

The Arizona State University men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., this weekend and compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday, November 23, after both squads earned at-large selections into the national meet following their Top 5 placements at the NCAA West Region Championships last weekend in Springfield, Ore. The men will open the meet with their 10,000m race at 12:08 p.m. ET before the women's 6,000m race on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at 12:58 p.m.

For those fans that can't make the trip to Terre Haute, there will be two ways to see the race from the comfort of your own computers. The cable station Versus will broadcast both races live from Terre Haute while the NCAA will stream coverage of the races on their web site, Results for the meet will be posted on the NCAA site after the races.

With their at-large selection into the meet, the Sun Devils continued their streak of national appearances by being selected for their 12th-consecutive NCAA Championships. With their inclusion this year, the Sun Devils' streak stands as the third-longest active streak in the nation behind only Providence (21) and Stanford (17). The streak also is the eighth-longest in the history of the women's championship event.

The Sun Devil men are returning the NCAA Championships as a team for the sixth time in the program's history and the first time since the 2007 season. With the exception of the 2004 meet, the Sun Devil men have competed at the NCAA event in odd years, including 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2007.

Speaking of competing in odd years, the women's team has found success in the odd years in Terre Haute as the only two times the program has earned a trophy (Top 4) finish came first in 2005 and most recently in 2007. In 2005, the women scored a program-record 191 points to place fourth overall before tallying 251 points in 2007 for another fourth-place showing.

As with every national championship event, the stakes are the highest of the season as the event is used to determine individual national champions, All-America honorees, team national champions and Top 4 trophy winners. To earn All-America accolades, a runner must finish in the Top 40 of their respective race.

If Kari Hardt or Ali Kielty place among the Top 40 this weekend, they would join two former Sun Devil women as the only multiple cross country All-Americans in program history. Lisa Aguilera was the first multiple honoree after earning accolades in both 2000 and 2001 while Amy HastingsAaron Aguayo placed ninth overall in the 10,000m run and earned his second award. Fasil Bizuneh (1999, 2001), Larry Larson (1974) and Todd Lewis (1991) are the only other Sun Devil men to attain All-America status in cross country. earned a trio of awards, claiming accolades in 2003, 2004 and 2005. If any of the other women in the race earn All-America status, they would join the eight other women that have combined to collect 11 total honors. On the men's side, ASU does not have a returning All-America in cross country and any Top 40 finisher for the Sun Devils would add them to the list that includes four men that have earned six total honors. The last time a Sun Devil man earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships was in 2006 when

The Sun Devils will send eight women and eight men to the national meet with seven on each side competing in the race. For the women, the Sun Devils will be represented by: Kari Hardt, Allie Kieffer, Ali Kielty, Kate Lydy, Lindsay Prescott, Angela Spadafino, Anna Sperry and Kauren Tarver. The men's runners include: Brandon Bethke, Ben Engelhardt, Nick Happe, Dylan Hatcher, Jeff Helmer, Daniel Lovell, Patrick Milloy and Zeke Van Patten.

Heading into the NCAA Championships, the Sun Devil women will bring a strong amount of experience, including two All-Americans and three runners that helped Arizona State to its fourth-place finish in 2007. Kari Hardt (2008) and Ali Kielty (2007) both return as runners that have earned All-America honors in cross country and are joined by Angela Spadafino as the trio that helped the Sun Devils to their second trophy finish.

The final U.S. Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national Top 30 rankings were released on Tuesday with the women entering the NCAA Championships ranked No. 17 and the men No. 22.

Here is the list of teams that will compete this weekend in the men's 10,000m championship race: automatic qualifiers Alabama, Arkansas, BYU, Colorado, Florida State, Georgetown, Iona, Michigan State, NC State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Portland, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, Villanova, William & Mary and Wisconsin and at-large selections Arizona State, Auburn, Duke, Iowa State, Louisville, Minnesota, New Mexico, Northern Arizona, Ohio State, Oregon, Providence, Virginia and Washington.

Here is the list of teams that will compete this weekend in the women's 6,000m championship race: automatic qualifiers Baylor, Colorado, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Princeton, Providence, SMU, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Villanova, Virginia and Washington and at-large selections Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Georgetown, Indiana, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, New Mexico, Penn State, Stanford, UTEP and West Virginia.

The NCAA Cross Country Championships will be comprised of 31 teams in the men's 10,000m run and 31 teams in the women's 6,000m run. Along with 38 at-large individual selections in each race, both competitions will feature about 255 athletes. The LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., is a rolling, all-grass terrain with fenced-off pathways for the runners to travel through, giving them a distinct path to follow and providing spectators various locations to view the competitions.

Kari Hardt earned All-America honors by placing 39th overall and the women's team scored 381 points to place 14th as a team as the Sun Devils concluded their 2008 season at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. The seven runners for the women included Hardt (20:42.1), Ali Kielty (47th, 20:46.1), Jenna Kingma (95th, 21:10.4), Haley Paul (143rd, 21:32.6), Sunni Olding (159th, 21:40.1), Angela Spadafino (168th, 21:43.8) and Lindsay Prescott (219th, 22:13.6).

Brandon Bethke placed seventh overall and Kari Hardt took 16th-place as each Sun Devil led their respective Arizona State University cross country team to Top 5 team placements at the NCAA West Region Championships on Saturday as both teams stated their cases to earn berths into the national meet next weekend. The regional races, held at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ore., saw the Sun Devil women take fourth place and the men tied for fifth overall. The men’s 10,000m race was the first on the course on Saturday and saw the No. 13 men score 155 points (the ninth-best point total in program history at the regional meet) to tie with Cal Poly for fifth overall while No. 1 Stanford (27) and No. 7 Portland (84) earned the region’s automatic berths into the national meet by finishing in the Top 2. No. 3 Oregon (109) and No. 17 Washington (120) placed ahead of ASU to round out the Top 5. In the women’s 6,000m race, the Sun Devils tallied 119 points to take fourth place with the Top 2 positions going to No. 1 Washington (25) and No. 5 Oregon (66). No. 14 Stanford (94) finished ahead of the Sun Devils while rival No. 24 Arizona (202) was fifth. While his team scored the ninth-best point total in the program’s history, Bethke placed his name on the individual list as his seventh-place showing tied him with Kyle Alcorn (2007) and Ryan Warrenburg (2005) for the ninth-best finish all-time. With his finish in the race, which clocked him in at 30:50.49, Bethke earned all-region accolades and nearly had a teammate on the all-region team with him as Ben Engelhardt finished one place from earning the distinction as he was 26th-overall in 31:24.00. Jeff Helmer (31:25.49), Patrick MilloyZeke Van Patten (32:17.28) rounded out the Top 5 runners for the Sun Devils as the trio finished 29th, 36th and 61st, respectively. Dylan Hatcher (62nd, 32:17.37) and Nick Happe (70th, 32:27.85) also ran in the race. On the women’s side, four Sun Devils finished in the Top 25 to earn all-region honors with all four crossing the finish line in a close pack with Hardt leading the way as she finished 16th overall in 21:22.55. Anna Sperry (21:26.31) and Lindsay Prescott (21:28.76) both placed in the Top 20 as they placed 18th and 20th, respectively, while Allie KiefferAngela Spadafino (22:04.25) finished 45th overall to round out the Top 5 positions on the team while Kate LydyCherise McNair (22:35.05) rounded out the Sun Devils in the race with placements of 62nd and 71st, respectively. (31:38.53) and (21:30.58) finished 21st overall. (22:24.53) and

Five total Sun Devils (four women and one man) earned All-Region honors from the USTFCCCA by finishing in the Top 25 at the West Region meet, including Brandon Bethke for the men and women's runners Kari Hardt, Anna Sperry, Lindsay Prescott and Allie Kieffer.

With his runner-up showing at the Pac-10 Championships, Brandon Bethke tied a program record for the best finish in a Pac-10 meet. Former All-American Fasil Bizuneh was the first Sun Devil man to place that high in the Pac-10 meet as he was second in 2001.

Of those returning Sun Devils, five enter the season with at least one individual All-America honor earned while representing Arizona State either in cross country or on the track. For the women, both Kari Hardt and Ali Kielty have earned the national honor in cross country as Hardt finished 39th overall last year and Kielty took 42nd in the 2007 meet. On the men's side, Brandon Bethke earned his first All-America honor as a Sun Devil by finishing fourth at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 5,000m run; Mason McHenry was an indoor All-American in 2009 while competing in the 800m run; and Nectaly Barbosa collected a pair of honors during the 2008 track seasons, first as a member of the national runner-up indoor distance medley relay before earning All-America accolades outdoors in the 800m run.

Six women and five men make up the newest members of the Sun Devil roster with two of those women and one man joining the program after transferring to Arizona State this summer. The two women that transferred in include senior Allie Kieffer (West Islip, N.Y.), who comes to ASU from Wake Forest, and junior Anna Sperry, (Simi Valley, Calif.) who comes to the Valley from BYU, while the men's lone transfer is Zeke Van PattenKevyn Murphy (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Karlee Owens (Arroyo Grande, Calif.), Natalie Todd (St. Louis, Mo.) and Liz Zuniga (West Covina, Calif.) for the women and Matt Estlund (St. Charles, Mo.), Nick Happe (St. Charles, Mo.), Steven Schnieders (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Doug Smith (Corvallis, Ore.), who formerly ran at Western Oregon University. The remaining four women and four men are all true freshmen this fall and include (Roxbury, N.J.).

The 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships marks the conclusion of the collegiate cross country season. The Sun Devil harriers will join their track and field teammates in January for the start of the 2010 track and field indoor season.