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Regional meet awaits Sun Devil track & field

May 26, 2009

Arizona State University's track and field team will be making a return trip to Eugene, Ore., this weekend, two weeks removed from the Pac-10 Championships meet that was held there, as the Sun Devils will compete in the NCAA West Region Championships on Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field on the Oregon campus. The meet, one of four being held this weekend, marks the opening of the push for national championships as the athletes will have to qualify through regional competition to advance to the NCAA Championships that will be held on June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.

At each of the regional meets, the Top 5 finishers in each individual event and the Top 3 relays will earn automatic berths into the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville (June 10-13). The NCAA will then select addition entrants into the Championships next week to fill out each event. While regional crowns will be awarded, the name of game this weekend is advancement to the national championships where All-America honors and national crowns will be the top prize.

According to the May 13 release of the USTFCCCA National Top 25 rankings, eight men's and seven women's teams from the West region currently find their names on the list. For the men, three Top 10 teams are represented, including No. 1 Oregon, No. 6 Arizona State and No. 10 Stanford. The remaining ranked teams include No. 14 Washington, No. 16 USC, No. 17 California, No. 19 BYU and No. 21 Washington State. On the women's side, four of the seven teams are ranked in the Top 10, including No. 2 Oregon, No. 5 USC, No. 7 Arizona State and No. 10 BYU while UCLA (No. 13), Stanford (No. 15) and Washington (No. 17) are also ranked in the Top 25.

The goal of the regional meet is to finish in the Top 5 individually and Top 3 relays to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. According to the declared lists, the Sun Devils enter the weekend ranked in the Top 5 in nine men's events (with one relay) and nine women's events (both relays). For the men, Marcus Duncan (100m, 200m), Ryan Whiting (shot put, discus) and Jason Lewis (shot put, discus, hammer) all rank in the Top 5 in multiple events while Mason McHenry (800m) and Brandon Bethke (5,000m) are also in the Top 5 while the men's 4x100m relay ranks third. For the women, Charonda Williams (100m, 200m), Dominique' Maloy (100m, 200m) and Sarah Stevens (shot put, discus, hammer) each rank in the Top 5 in multiple events while Jasmine Chaney (400mH) and Cj Navarro (discus) are also in the Top 5. The women's 4x100m relay (first) and 4x400m relay (tie-third) also stand among the Top 3 heading into the meet.

Of all the regional qualifiers, the Sun Devils enter the meet with five women's marks and three men's marks ranking as the top entries in the meet. For the women, Sarah Stevens hold the top mark in the shot put (18.00m) and discus (57.21m) while Charonda Williams leads the way in the 100m dash (11.14) and 200m dash (22.82). Williams also is a member of the region-leading 4x100m relay (43.92) with Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock and Jasmine Chaney. On the men's side, Marcus Duncan has the top mark in the 200m dash (20.80) while Brandon Bethke lead the 5,000m run (13:27.79) and Ryan Whiting in the shot put (20.41m).

Heading into the regional meets, both Sarah Stevens and Jason Lewis are both entered into three events, including the shot put, hammer and discus with both ranked among the Top 4 in the region in all three events. For Lewis, he is one of only three men nationally that have declared to competed in all three throws and is the only one of those three men that ranks in the Top 5 in any event (all three). Stevens, on the other hand, is one of eight women nationally that will throw in all three events and is one of two that rank among the Top 4 regionally in all three. Among all the throwers in both genders, the Sun Devils have the top marks in each event compared to the other triple-entries.

Speaking of the regional leaders, Charonda Williams has had an outstanding season in the 100m dash that started on April 11 at the Sun Angel Track Classic. Entering the season with a personal-best time of 11.41 in the short sprint, Williams opened with a time of 11.44 before setting her sights on taking down the school record of 11.33 (Sharon Ware, 1983) over 26 years earlier. One week after the SATC, Williams competed at the Mt. SAC Relays and set the school mark with her time of 11.29. Then, one month later at the Pac-10 Championships, she again lowered the school record on two occasions, first running 11.26 in the preliminary round before going lower to 11.14 to win the title. Her time currently ranks as the fifth-best in the NCAA and is the ninth (tie) best in the world.

With the strength of her record run of 11.14, Charonda Williams not only reset the school record in the 100m dash twice, she also made Pac-10 history by doubling as a double winner. Williams entered the meet as the defending 100m and 200m champion after claiming the titles at the 2008 meet in Tempe. At the 2009 meet, Williams easily won both sprints to become the first woman in conference history to repeat the short-sprint sweep and joining USC's Torri Edwards (1996, 1999) as the only women to win both events in two meets in a career. Williams won the 200m in 23.05.

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Williams was not the only Sun Devil woman that had an impressive meet at the Pac-10 Championships as Sarah Stevens concluded her career with over 100 points scored in the event while adding titles No. 5 and No. 6 to her career haul. Stevens, the top-ranked entrant in the shot put and discus, lived up to her ranking as she easily won both events, throwing 17.32m to take the shot put before coming back to win the discus with a toss of 57.21m. With those wins, Stevens won the shot put for the third time in her career (2006, 2007, 2009) and the discus for the second time (2007, 2009) to go along with her 2008 hammer title. After taking second in the hammer this year, Stevens scored 28 points to give her 101 for her career and was named the Pac-10 Female Athlete of the Meet.

Stevens and Williams were not the only Pac-10 champions crowned in Eugene two weeks ago. On the men's side, Ryan Whiting won his first conference crown in the shot put with a winning toss of 20.37m that came on his final throw of the competition. Brandon Bethke won his first Pac-10 title as he was crowned the winner in the 5,000m run after holding a late charge to cross the finish line just 0.06 ahead of second place (13:52.73). The final championship crown came from the women's 4x100m relay as Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock, Jasmine Chaney and Williams ran 44.10 for the victory.

In his first Pac-10 Championships, Brandon Bethke scored 12 points for the team as he won the 5,000m run and took seventh in the 1,500m run on the same day. Bethke, who competed at Wisconsin as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to ASU, won the 5,000m event for the second time at the conference level, adding the 2009 Pac-10 outdoor to his 2008 Big Ten indoor crown. Bethke, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 5,000m run this year (13:27.79), also won the 2007 Big Ten 3,000m steeplechase and the 2008 Big Ten indoor 3,000m run titles.

At the Pac-10 Championships, 11 Sun Devil freshmen made their debuts with two women and three men scoring points toward the team totals. For the women, redshirt freshman Cj Navarro took third in the discus with a personal-best toss of 169-03 while Kayla Sanchez was seventh in the 400m hurdles at 1:00.55. On the men's side, Allante Battle took third in the 100m (10.49), fourth in the 200m (21.32) and helped both relays to Top 4 finishes, including the 4x100m in third (40.32) and the 4x400m in fourth (3:09.96). John Kline also was a part of the 4x400m relay while Marc Peck was seventh in the javelin (208-07). Cara Carpenter was close to scoring for the women as she tied for ninth (Top 8 positions score at the Conference meet).

The Sun Devil women took third place overall and the men were sixth as the 2009 Pac-10 Championships came to a close on Sunday, May 17, in Eugene. Host Oregon swept the team titles with the women winning with 165.5 points and the men with 158. In the women's standings, Stanford took second (138) while the Sun Devils were third (112), USC (108) was fourth and UCLA (79.5) was fifth. On the men's side, USC was second (117) with Stanford (93), Washington State (91), UCLA (90) and ASU (87) rounding a closely-bunched race for the Top 5.

The 2009 meet marks the seventh year that the NCAA has conducted regional meets for the outdoor season with the first meet being held in 2003. The Sun Devils, as a team, enter the weekend as the defending men's and women's champions after scoring 74.0 and 114.0 points last year, respectively. The women are the two-time defending champions after winning the West in 2007 with 94.0 points. Last year, the women won four events at the 2008 meet while the men won three events.

Of the four events won last year at the West region meet, only one individual winner and two members of the relay return this season. Charonda Williams is the lone returning champion after she captured the 200m dash one year ago. She joins Dominique' Maloy as the two returning 4x100m relay runners that claimed gold with Jordan Durham (graduated) and Stephanie Garnett, who is in the meet in the long jump only this weekend. ASU will use Shauntel Elcock and Jasmine Chaney on the relay this year as those four women ran 43.92 earlier this season, the second-best time in school history.

The men's team has only one of its three 2008 champions returning this weekend as Ryan Whiting will attempt to defend his shot put crown that he won last year. The two non-returning West region champions were both lost to graduation: Kyle Alcorn (3,000m steeplechase) and Matt Turner (long jump).

While the team was off from competition over the weekend between the Pac-10 and the West Region meets, several of the throwers found competitions to enter into with one recording a school record. Although none of the marks recorded could be used for regional qualification or an improved placement in the regional and national competitions, five Sun Devils took part in two meets. First up, Ryan Whiting competed in the Gary Shaw Big Throws meet in Salinas, Calif., and set a school record in the discus with a toss of 62.08m (203-08), just 6cm better than Gary Williky's previous record of 62.02m (203-06) that was recorded in 1982. Then, in Tucson at the Tucson Elite Throws Classic, four Sun Devils competed with Sarah Stevens finishing fourth in the shot put (17.04m), Cj Navarro taking sixth in the discus (48.81m), Jason Lewis taking eighth in the discus (55.33m) and sixth in the hammer (65.40m) and Jeff Helwig finishing 10th in the hammer (57.82m). All throws in Tucson met the regional qualifying standards, but were not improvements over what each has thrown this season.

On the latest release of the NCAA descending order lists, two Sun Devil men hold the top marks in the nation so far this year with Brandon Bethke's time of 13:27.79 setting the standard in the 5,000m run while Ryan Whiting's toss of 20.41m leads the shot put.

Six marks recorded by the women currently rank among the Top 8 nationally with three of those marks being held by Sarah Stevens, who ranks second in the shot put (18.00m), third in the discus (57.21m) and fifth in the hammer (64.87m). Charonda Williams ranks second in the 200m (22.82), fifth in the 100m (11.14) and is a member of the sixth-ranked 4x100m relay (43.92).

After qualifying in three events last year at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships and earning All-America honors in all three, including the national title in the discus, Sarah Stevens is once again in position to add to her career haul of 12 All-America honors. As it stands now, Stevens is the only woman in the NCAA that is ranked in the Top 10 in all three throws so far this season and is one of only three women to hold a qualifying mark in all three of those events that also rank among the Top 25 nationally.

Along with Bethke and Whiting's marks, four other marks rank among the Top 8 nationally. Whiting also stands third in the discus (60.73m) while fellow thrower Jason Lewis is eighth in the discus (58.62m) and seventh in the hammer (68.15m). Mason McHenry is the final Top 8 ranked competitor as he stands eighth in the 800m run (1:48.25).

Jason Lewis has continued to build upon his impressive indoor season when the former walk-on captured the NCAA Indoor Weight Throw title and earned All-America honors by placing fourth in the shot put at the same meet. As it stands now, Lewis is the only man in the nation that ranks among the Top 25 nationally in all three events outdoors as he ranks in the Top 10 in the discus (eighth), hammer (seventh) and shot put (14th).

On the latest world lists, two current Sun Devils (one man and one female) are currently among the Top 20 internationally in their respective events. For the women, Charonda Williams is ranked in the Top 10 in both the 100m (11.14) and 200m (22.82) as she stands ninth (tie) and 10th, respectively. Ryan Whiting currently stands 11th in the shot put at 20.41m.

While the current Sun Devils have two names on the world list, seven former Devils also have their names in the Top 20. Dwight Phillips is ranked in a pair of events, including the world lead in the long jump (8.51m) and 10th in the 100m dash (10.06) while Matt Turner and Trevell QuinleyMarcus Brunson is 17th in the 100m (10.12) while Fasil Bizuneh is 18th in the 10,000m (28:00.22). For the women, Jacquelyn Johnson is currently third in the heptathlon (6,020) while Desiree Davila is eighth in the 10,000m (32:25.78). are 15th (8.04m) and 17th (8.02m), respectively, in the long jump.

It was announce last week by USA Track & Field that former Sun Devil Desiree Davila will represent the U.S. at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics as a member of the women's marathon team. Davila, who was selected after competing in the Chicago Marathon and was the top American finisher by crossing the line fifth overall in 2:31:33, will travel with the U.S. squad to Berlin, Germany, and run the race on August 23.

On April 20, former Sun Devil and Los Angeles Times reporter Julie Cart was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting as she and fellow writer Bettina Boxall reported in a series about how brush fires in the Los Angeles area are fought. A graduate from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Cart competed in the discus for the Sun Devils and still holds the ninth-best mark in program history at 52.04m (170-09) which she recorded during the 1980 season.

Dan O'Brien, a volunteer assistant coach with the Sun Devils, is used to holding a world record as he once did in the decathlon. Now, the American record-holder in the decathlon has another world record to brag about as he rewrote the Guinness Book of World Records in the hopscotch. You did not read that wrong... the hopscotch. On May 14, O'Brien was in New York City where the 1996 Olympic champion flew through a game of hopscotch in 1:23, breaking the previous mark by two seconds. O'Brien was on hand to also encourage children to remain active.

Over the weekend (May 2), the Sun Devils played host to the annual Double Dual with Arizona and Northern Arizona and walked away with a sweep over both of their intrastate rivals. In the women's team scoring, the Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats, 107-93, while downing the Lumberjacks, 116-68. On the men's duals, the Devils knocked off the 'Cats, 109-89, while defeating the 'Jacks, 134-51.

In the Double Dual, the Sun Devils won 23 different events while also collecting 22 second and third-place finishes overall. Along with the women winning 14 events and the men taking nine, the Sun Devils combined to record 27 regional qualifying marks on the day, including 14 by the men and 13 by the women.

Of those 23 victories, the Sun Devils swept the titles in eight different events, including four on the track and four in the field. On the track, Arizona State dominated in the sprints as both genders won the 100m and 200m events while also collecting wins in both relays (4x100m and 4x400m). In the field, the Sun Devils were victorious in all four throws, including the shot put, discus, hammer and javelin.

Four Sun Devil women had very successful Double Duals as each had a hand in at least three event wins with one of the women in on four victories. Jasmine Chaney led the charge as she swept the hurdles with wins in the 100m hurdles (13.77) and the 400m hurdles (59.10) while also running on the victorious 4x100m (44.02) and 4x400m (3:43.30) relays. Triple winners included Dominique' Maloy (100m, 4x100m and 4x400m), Charonda Williams (200m, 4x100m and long jump) and Sarah Stevens (shot put, discus and hammer).

While there were only two men that won more than one event on the day, one of those men made quite a statement as true freshman Allante Battle had a hand in four victories. The rookie opened the day by helping the 4x100m relay to a win in 40.31 before taking the 100m dash in 10.58, just 0.01 off his seasonal-best. Then, he won the 200m dash with a personal-best and regional qualifying time of 21.21 before capping the day as a late addition to the 4x400m relay that won in 3:10.25.

On April 28, Sarah Stevens was named as one of 29 women selected for the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, a one-time, non-renewing $7,500 scholarship that is given annually to scholar-athletes that have excelled academically and athletically and are completing their senior seasons. Stevens, the lone woman from the Pac-10 to be honored with the scholarship among winter sports, is a two-time NCAA champion and 12-time All-American while also having earned numerous academic honors, including twice being named the USTFCCCA Women's Division I Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year (indoor 2007, outdoor 2008).

Along with her two records set outdoors, Williams also is the indoor record holder in the 60m (7.30) and 200m (22.89). She also has helped several relays move up the rankings this year, including the 4x100m that ran 43.92 to move into second all-time at ASU and become only the second team to run a sub-44 in the event. Indoors, she helped the 4x400m relay clock the fourth-best time of 3:34.30 at the NCAA Championships where the team placed second overall in the meet.

Jasmine Chaney also had a fine weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays (April 16-18) as she a part of four regional qualifying marks, including both relays and both hurdles. In the hurdles, however, Chaney improved her personal best times while also winning both events. First up, Chaney ran in the 400m hurdles and won with a time of 58.57 to move into the No. 6 position on the all-time ASU list while also becoming only the seventh woman to run a sub-59 in the event. One day later, she competed in the 100m hurdles and won with a time of 13.61, improving on the No. 9 time in program history. She also helped the 4x100m (44.17) and the 4x400m (3:37.10) to regional qualifying marks.

On March 13-14, the 2009 indoor season came to a close for the Sun Devils as eight members of the team traveled to College Station, Texas, for the NCAA Indoor Championships and returned to Tempe with a pair of fifth-place team finishes and 12 total All-America honors. Jason LewisRyan Whiting (shot put) each won national titles to pace the three men while Charonda Williams earned All-America honors in three events to lead the five women at the meet. (weight throw) and

All three men and all five women that competed in the NCAA Indoor Championships over the weekend earned All-America honors with three athletes earning multiple awards. Jason Lewis was the lone man to earn multiple honors as he finished first in the weight throw and fourth in the shot put while Sarah Stevens earned honors in the same women's events with finishes of fourth and second, respectively. Charonda Williams led the way, though, as she was an individual All-American in the 60m dash (sixth) and 200m dash (third) before joining Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock and Jeavon Benjamin to place second in the 4x400m relay. The final All-American was true freshman Mason McHenry in the men's 800m run, where he placed ninth overall and was the eighth American to finish.

Ryan Whiting broke his own facility record to win the shot put and successfully defend the crown he won last year as he recorded a winning mark of 20.16m (66-10.75) to take the shot put by almost three feet. With his back-to-back crowns in the event, Whiting became the ninth man in NCAA indoor history to win the shot put twice in a career and became the first back-to-back winner since Carl Myerscough of Nebraska in 2002-03.

The Arizona State throws program made a big name for itself once again at the national meet as Assistant Coach David Dumble's three throwers combined for two national titles, one national runner-up and five All-America honors in the only two throwing events available. Along with the three Top 3 placements, the other two finishes remained among the Top 4 as well. On the men's side, the 25 points earned tied the team for fifth-place, just four points shy of finishing tied for fourth and earning a trophy.

Charonda Williams had an outstanding meet for the Sun Devil women at the NCAA Indoor Championships as the sprint standout earned three All-America honors while recording two school records as well. Last year, Williams qualified only in the 200m dash and did not advance out of the preliminary round. This year, she was the eighth qualifier for the national meet and advanced to the final with the sixth-best time in the field at a then-school record 23.23. In the finals later that night, she crushed that time down to 22.89, the fourth-best in the world this year, to take third overall. Then, in the finals of the 60m dash, she advanced to the finals with the sixth-best time of 7.30 (school record) after entering the meet ranked 12th. In the finals, she finished sixth to earn her second All-America honor. In the final event of the meet, she ran the second leg of the 4x400m relay, helping the team to a time of 3:34.30 to finish as the national runners-up.

In her previous six trips to the NCAA Championships (three indoor and three outdoor), Sarah Stevens had collected one indoor shot put crown, one outdoor discus crown and a school record-tying 10 career All-America honors. Over the weekend, Stevens competed in both throws and took national runner-up honors in the shot put for the second year in a row one day after taking fourth in the weight throw to give her a school record 11th and 12th All-America honor. And, to top all of that, she accepted a marriage proposal at the end of the meet from her boyfriend, Ross.

Those Sun Devils that qualify will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships that will be hosted by Arkansas on June 10-13. The NCAA will announce the full field of both automatic and at-large selections to the meet after this weekend's competitions.