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Pac-10 meet awaits ASU harriers

October 28, 2009

The championship portion of the 2009 season gets underway on Friday afternoon as the Arizona State University cross country program will compete in the 2009 Pac-10 Cross Country Championships at Sky Links Golf Course in Long Beach, Calif. The 41st annual men's championship 8,000m race leads off the day with a 3 p.m. start and will be followed by the 24th annual women's 6,000m run starting at 4 p.m.

The Pac-10 Championships return to Long Beach for the first time since 1999 and will feature all 10 schools running in the women's 6,000m race after eight of the schools compete in the men's 8,000m race (Oregon State and USC do not have teams). The Sky Links Golf Course will provide a flat, grassy terrain for the competition that will feature a 2,000m loop that the men will navigate four times and the women three. A delayed video stream will be available to view online at while full results will be posted following the races on both the Pac-10 web site and the USC web site (

The U.S. Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its national rankings on Tuesday, October 26, with the poll remaining identical to the October 20 release. The Sun Devil men remained No. 16 in the nation following a solid performance in the NCAA Pre-National competition while the women were receiving votes to fall just outside of the national Top 30.

The two races this weekend will be used to determine the conference's team and individual champions, as well as those athletes that will comprise the All-Pac-10 First and Second Team honorees (Top 14 placers). Both races could also go a long way in helping teams earn points toward an at-large qualification to the NCAA Championships that will take place on November 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Pac-10 Conference is home to some of the top programs in the nation and this season is no different as both races will have five teams that are currently receiving votes in the USTFCCCA National Top 30 rankings, including both of the nation's top-ranked squads. The men's race should be quite a showdown as not only No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon are in the mix, but five of the eight teams set to run are ranked in the Top 30, including No. 13 Washington, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 26 Washington State. The women's race also will have some highly regarded squads, including No. 8 Oregon, No. 12 Stanford, No. 17 Arizona and the Sun Devils, who are just outside of the Top 30.

Last year in Springfield, Ore., the Sun Devil women placed fourth overall and the men were eighth as Washington and Oregon, respectively, won the team titles. The women scored 105 points and placed two runners in the Top 10, including Kari Hardt (ninth place) and Ali Kielty (10th). The men tallied 198 points with Patrick Milloy finishing as the top runner of the team as he placed 28th overall.

The last time Long Beach was the site of the Pac-10 Championships was in 1999 with the women taking second place and the men fourth. At that time, those team finishes ranked as the best all-time for the Sun Devils based upon point totals with the women's 62 points that day now ranking fifth-best in program history and the men's 84 points now standing third. The meet, which was held on the same day as it is this year (October 30), saw Lisa Aguilera for the women and Fasil Bizuneh for the men place the highest of the teams' runners to lead the way. Aguilera's finish, the fourth-best (tie) finish all-time in ASU history, equalled Terese Barrios' finish from 1988 as the best all-time in program history. For the men, Bizuneh's placement was the third-best all-time for an ASU male at the Pac-10 meet.

Brandon Bethke finished sixth overall and Kari Hardt was 11th to lead the Arizona State University men’s and women’s teams, respectively, at the NCAA Pre-National Meet on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind., Saturday, the final race for the top runners on the team before the championship season gets underway. Bethke, who placed sixth overall in the men’s 8,000m race in 23:49.4, paced the 19th-ranked Sun Devils to a sixth-place team showing as ASU scored 232 points. No. 1 Stanford (47), No. 5 Colorado (130), No. 6 BYU (163), No. 8 Portland (211) and No. 12 Iona (218) placed ahead of the Sun Devils while ASU did place better than one team ranked ahead of it as No. 18 Iowa State finished 10th overall in the men’s white race. On the women’s side, Hart covered the 6,000m course in 20:58.8 to help the 17th-ranked Sun Devils to 10th place overall (325). No. 1 Washington (59), No. 9 Florida (89), No. 5 Princeton (126), No. 15 Syracuse (191) and No. 18 Illinois (206) rounded out the Top 5 teams in the women’s white race.Bethke, who’s only other race this year (Notre Dame) produced a runner-up finish, led a team that placed three runners in the Top 50, including Ben Engelhardt (26th, 24:12.0) and Jeff Helmer (45th, 24:28.4). Patrick Milloy (62nd, 24:40.0) and true freshman Nick Happe (93rd, 25:01.4) rounded out the five scoring positions for the team while Dylan Hatcher (127th, 25:25.3) and Doug Smith (171st, 25:58.1) also ran for ASU. While Hardt was the lone ASU woman to place among the Top 50 on the day, three others came across the line within 18 seconds of each other, including Lindsay Prescott (56th, 21:41.4), Angela Spadafino (67th, 21:47.4) and Anna Sperry (86th, 21:59.5). Kauren Tarver (105th, 22:12.0) was the fifth scorer for the team while Cherise McNair (120th, 22:22.7) and Kate Lydy (160th, 22:46.4) also competed in the event.

Last Thursday, several Sun Devils competed in the Mesa Thunderbird Classic at Riverview Park in Mesa with the women's 'B' team placing third overall and the men not scoring as a team. For the women, Brianna Smith was the top ASU finisher as she crossed the line in sixth place overall with Maureen Stringham right behind her in seventh. Karlee Owens, who was running unattached from the program in the race, finished third overall. On the men's side, Collin Eckelman was the top Sun Devil as he placed 12th overall while Steven Schnieders, who also ran unattached, was just ahead of him in 11th.

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.).

Advanced to their 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Cross Country Championships and placed 14th overall (381 points)... appearance streak at the national meet currently stands as the third-longest in the nation while their streak also ranks as the eighth-longest in NCAA history... earned a berth into the national meet by finishing fourth overall at the NCAA West Region Championships (128 points) after taking fourth in the Pac-10 Championships (105 points)... individually, Kari Hardt led the team much of the year as she was the top finisher in each of the three championship races... she earned her first All-America honor by placing 39th overall at the NCAA Championships (20:42.10), was an All-West Region selection by placing 10th (20:18.96) at the regional meet and was a second-team All-Pac-10 honoree for finishing ninth in the league meet (20:26.57)... Hardt also was one of two women to win an individual race on the season as she captured the title at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota (21:18.40) two weeks after Ali Kielty won the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson (13:39.62) to lead the women to the team title as well... Kielty also was an award winner as she was a second-team All-Pac-10 honoree while joining Jenna Kingma as a member of the All-West Region team... academically, Kielty earned recognition, along with the team, from the USTFCCCA while Kielty, Kingma, Angela Spadafino and Maureen Stringham were Academic All-Pac-10 honorees... Kingma was inaugural recipient of the Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Women's Cross Country, presented by Toyo Tires.

Posted a pair of eighth-place finishes in their two championship appearances, scoring 198 points at the Pac-10 Championships before scoring 290 points in the NCAA West Region Championships... Patrick Milloy was the top runner of the men during the season as he was the first across the line in four races, including the championship events where he placed 28th in the Pac-10 (24:32.61) and 42nd in the region (30:23.11)... similar to the women, the men also won the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson after taking second at the season-opening George Kyte Invitational in Flagstaff... academically, the men's team earned recognition from the USTFCCCA... seven Sun Devils also earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors, including a first-team selection for Thomas Petersen and second-team picks for Ben Engelhardt and Daniel Lovell.

The Sun Devils will travel to Springfield, Ore., on November 14, to compete in the NCAA West Region Championships with berths into the NCAA Championships (Nov. 23) on the line. The Top 2 teams automatically advance with the NCAA later selecting 13 at-large teams to also compete in Terre Haute, Ind.