Ready, set, go: Devils open track and field season
The 2010 track and field season will get under way Jan. 22 in Flagstaff, Ariz., as the Sun Devils are scheduled to compete in the Friday Night Challenge that will be hosted by Northern Arizona. The one-day meet opens with field events starting at 4:30 p.m. and running at 6:30 p.m. will all events held inside the Walkup Skydome on the NAU campus.
The Friday Night Challenge is a team scored event (double dual format) and will feature athletes from Arizona State, Northern Arizona, CS Bakersfield and Southern Utah. (NAUAthletics.com for more information, including heat sheets and results)
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Thursday the 10 male collegiate track & field athletes named to the official preseason watch list for the 2010 awarding of The Bowerman as selected by The Bowerman Men’s Watch Committee with returning NCAA champion Ryan Whiting earning a spot on that list. The defending champion in both the indoor and outdoor shot put, Whiting is entering his senior year and is on the watch list for an award that will be given to the top male and top female collegiate track & field athlete at the end of the season. (TheBowerman.org)
With two national champions returning and the addition of several key individuals, the Arizona State men enter the indoor season ranked No. 7 in the USTFCCCA preseason poll while the women are not among the Top 25. Florida State, Florida and Oregon are the Top 3 on the men's side while Texas A&M, Oregon and LSU lead the way in the women's rankings.
Last Friday at the NCAA convention in Atlanta, former Sun Devil standout Sarah Stevens was presented with the NCAA Top VIII Award, which is one of the highest honors handed out each year by the Association. Awarded for excellence in the classroom, in competition and in the community, the Top VIII recognized eight individual student-athletes from all divisions of NCAA governance. Just the second Sun Devil to earn the distinction, Stevens was a two-time NCAA champion and earned the most All-America honors in program history with 15 total, including five during her senior season.
A pair of Sun Devil men are back for their seniors seasons with both carrying the distinction of defending national champion after winning a throwing event last year. Ryan Whiting returns and will look to become a three-time champion in the indoor shot put after winning the past two titles while also adding the 2009 outdoor crown to give him a sweep of the event last year. Also returning is Jason Lewis, who hit a personal-best and school-record mark of 75-00.75 last year to win the weight throw for his first title and All-America honor.
More on Whiting
With a victory in the shot put at the 2010 NCAA Championships, Whiting would become just the third man to win the shot put three years in a row and the first since Hans Hogland (UTEP) did so in 1973-1974-1975. He also would become only the fourth to win the event three or more times in a career and first to do so since Michael Carter (SMU) won crowns in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984.
More on Lewis
Lewis not only will look to defend his national title this year, but also continue a recent streak of success in the event that was started in 2005. That year, Spyridon Jullien (Virginia Tech) won the title and then again in 2006. Following that, Egor Agafonov (Kansas) won the next two titles in a row (2007, 2008) before Lewis won last year.
Returning All-American men
Last year, three men earned All-America honors from the USTFCCCA, including both returning national champions and one true freshman. Jason Lewis collected the first honors of his career by winning the weight throw and taking fourth in the shot put while Whiting added another All-America honor by winning the shot put. Lewis (discus & hammer) and Whiting (shot put & discus) also earned a pair of accolades during the outdoor season. Rookie Mason McHenry ran in the 800m event and earned All-America honors as well.
More All-American men
Four other men also return that have earned All-America honors in recent years, including Brandon Bethke, who earned national honors at the 2009 NCAA outdoor meet in the 5,000m run before taking seventh overall this past fall at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The three other returning All-Americans earned their honors during the 2008 season: Nectaly Barbosa was an All-American outdoors in the 800m and on the indoor distance medley relay team; Justin Kremer was a member of two indoor All-American relays, including the 4x400m and the DMR; and Joel Phillip earned honors in the indoor and outdoor 400m dash along with the indoor 4x400m relay.
Returning All-American women
Five women earned All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships one year ago with just one athlete, Dominique' Maloy, returning this season. Maloy was a member of the 4x400m relay team that finished second in the nation. She also was a member of the All-American 4x100m and 4x400m relays outdoors while adding an individual honor in the outdoor 200m dash.
More All-American women
Three women return this year that earned All-America honors during the 2009 outdoor season, including two that were freshmen. Jasmine Chaney is back after helping the 4x100m and 4x400m relays to All-America status last year while Kayla Sanchez, a member of that same 4x100m relay, also is back. In the field Cj Navarro is back after placing eighth in the discus in her first national meet appearance last spring. Two distance runners also return this winter after earning All-America honors in cross country during their careers, including 2007 honoree Ali Kielty and 2008 honoree Kari Hardt.
Back for more
Speaking of returning, head coach Greg Kraft is back to lead the way for the 14th year in a row and will look to guide the Sun Devils back to the top of the podium at the NCAA Championships as his squads did in 2007 (women's indoor and women's outdoor) and 2008 (men's and women's indoor). Since taking over the program in 1996, Kraft has built Arizona State into one of the top all-around programs in the nation. Among the coaches that have led the program, his tenure with the Sun Devil men is surpassed only by the 17 years of service legendary coach Senon 'Baldy' Castillo put in (1954-79 and 1985) while his 14 years leading the women's program is the longest in ASU history (Anne Pittman, 1958-67).
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This year's roster features over 90 student-athletes with several newcomers joining the program. The Sun Devils have added 29 newcomers this season, including 16 women and 13 men while 24 women return and 41 men return from last year.
New to the staff
The coaching staff also has two newcomers this year with the additions of Ronnie Williams and Isley Gonzalez. Williams was brought in to work with the men's sprinters while Gonzalez helped with the cross country team and will continue on during the track and field season with the mid-distance/distance runners as the program's graduate assistant.
Cross country recap 2009
The cross country team wrapped-up its 2009 season in November as the Sun Devils competed in the NCAA Championships, placing 19th in the men's standings and 24th in the women's. The women advanced to their 12th-consecutive national meet (the third-longest active streak) and were led by Allie Kieffer, who was 49th overall and just nine places from All-America honors. On the men's side, the program's fifth national appearance was led by Brandon Bethke, who finished seventh in the men's 10,000m race, earning All-America honors while finishing the highest of any ASU man in program history. Both teams opened the championship season by finishing third at the Pac-10 Championships before the women took fourth and the men tied for fifth at the NCAA West Region Championships.
Next time out
The Sun Devils will send athletes to a pair of meets next weekend with competitions scheduled at the Mountain 'T' Invitational in Flagstaff and the Washington Invitational in Seattle. Both meets are slated to be contested Friday and Saturday.