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Small group set to compete at NAU Tune-up

February 19, 2009

The championship season is nearing for the Arizona State University track and field program with the MPSF Championships just over one week away. This weekend, several Sun Devils will head to Flagstaff, Ariz., to prepare for the conference meet as they take part in the NAU Tune-up on Saturday.

The Sun Devil Track & Field program will be holding a preseason reception on Monday, February 23, at the Old Main Building on the Tempe campus, starting at 7 p.m. Fans, family and friends are all invited to attend the gathering as the newest members of the team are introduced while also celebrating the teams' national championship runs over the past two years. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Ryan Cole in the ASU Track & Field office at 480.965.0016 or via email at

While only 10 or so athletes will compete in Flagstaff this weekend, the team is gearing up for the next four weeks as the whirlwind track season continues. Next weekend, the team will travel to Seattle for the MPSF Championships before sending athletes to both Seattle and Ames, Iowa for the last chance meets (March 7). After that, those that are selected will compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas (March 13-14). About one month from this weekend, the Sun Devils will open their outdoor slate by playing host to the Baldy Castillo Invitational (March 20-21) at Sun Angel Stadium.

For the second time this season, Charonda Williams has broken a school record in the short sprints indoors, this time taking down the 200m mark that had stood for over 17 years. At the Texas A&M Invitational, Williams ran 23.49 to finish fourth overall in the meet and break the previous school record of 23.50 set in 1991 by Maicel Malone. Two weeks earlier, at the Mountain 'T' Invitational in Flagstaff, Williams broke the 60m dash record by running a converted 7.33, bettering the previous mark of 7.39.

Sarah Stevens added the top mark in the shot put to her already top-ranked weight throw mark over the weekend as she won the Texas A&M Invitational with a heave of 17.57m (57-07.75). Her mark, which is the 13th-best in the world this year, puts her on top of the NCAA order lists along with her weight throw mark of 21.59m (70-10.00) recorded at the NAU Team Challenge on February 7.

With one week remaining before the MPSF meet, two women and one man hold the top marks in the league so far this season. On the women's side, Sun Devil Charonda Williams leads the MPSF in both the 60m (7.33) and 200m (23.49) events while Sarah Stevens leads the way in the shot put (17.57m) and the weight throw (21.59m). Jason Lewis is the lone leader for the Sun Devil men as he holds the best toss in the weight throw (22.04m).

Five Sun Devils opened their indoor seasons last weekend with times/marks that were good enough to qualify them for the NCAA meet. In Seattle at the Husky Classic, four runners earned provisional qualifying status, including two men in the 800m run and two women in the 5,000m run. The men included true freshman Mason McHenry (1:49.71) and sophomore Nectaly Barbosa (1:49.74) while the women included cross country All-Americans Jenna Kingma (16:19.69) and Ali Kielty (16:33.72). In College Station, Ryan Whiting opened his NCAA title defense in the shot put with an NCAA automatic mark of 19.71m (64-08.00).

Along with Whiting's mark in the shot put over the weekend, the Sun Devils have automatically qualified one woman and two men to the NCAA Championships will all three coming in the throws. All three have qualified in the shot put, including Sarah Stevens for the women and men's throwers Whiting and Jason Lewis while Stevens and Lewis have also qualified in the weight throw.

... that Sarah Stevens and Jason Lewis hold an impressive distinction this year as they are the only two throwers that have automatically qualified to compete in the NCAA Championships in both the shot put and the weight throw? In fact, only one other woman this year has automatically qualified in one event and provisionally qualified in another and that is Lauren Groves of Kansas State (auto in weight).

True freshman Mason McHenry made an impressive debut in a Sun Devil uniform last weekend in Seattle as he clocked a time of 1:49.71 in the 800m run to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships in his first collegiate race. His time ranks him 20th in the nation currently and also stands as the second-fastest time run in Sun Devil history.

Right behind McHenry in the 800m run in Seattle was Nectaly Barbosa, who ran 1:49.74, the 21st-best mark in the nation this year. The outdoor All-American in the event entered the season ranked No. 2 in ASU indoor history and even lowered that time, but will have to settle for No. 3 on the list for now with McHenry just 0.03 ahead of him.

The distance duo of Jenna Kingma and Ali Kielty, both of whom were All-Americans in cross country in 2007, placed their names on the national provisional qualifying list in the 5,000m run at the Husky Classic over the weekend, ranking 10th and 16th, respectively in the NCAA currently. Kingma ran 16:19.69 and Kielty clocked in at 16:33.72.

For the third time this indoor season, freshman Cara Carpenter has improved on her top clearance with all three standing as the fifth-best ASU indoor pole vault history. After opening at 3.80m and then 3.81m, she moved up to 3.82m at the Texas A&M Invitational.

Nine Sun Devils have earned qualifying marks so far this season with eight of the 13 marks recorded ranking among the Top 10 nationally. Along with Sarah Stevens' nation-leading marks in the shot put and weight throw, the women have three other marks that rank in the Top 10, including Charonda Williams in the 60m (tied for sixth) and the 200m (fifth) and Jenna Kingma in the 5,000m run (10th). On the men's side, Ryan WhitingJason Lewis are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively in the shot put while Lewis is fourth in the weight throw. and

The USTFCCCA released the latest set of national rankings (Feb. 18) with the Sun Devil women moving up three positions to No. 7 while the men slipped 10 places to No. 12. In the women's rankings, the Top 5 is Texas A&M, Oregon, Tennessee, Michigan and Penn State while the men's Top 5 is Oregon, Arkansas, Florida State, Texas A&M and Nebraska.

In the latest release of the World Indoor Top 20, six with ties to the Sun Devil program currently find their names on the lists, including Sarah Stevens, who is ranked in both throws. Stevens is currently fourth in the world in the weight throw (21.59m) and is 13th in the shot put (17.57m) while Charonda Williams is also 13th in the 200m dash (23.49). On the men's side, Jason Lewis is 11th in the weight throw (22.04m) while Ryan Whiting is tied for 17th in the shot put (19.71m). Former Sun Devils Jessica Pressley (shot put) and Matt Turner (long jump) are currently ranked tied for 17th (17.34m) and seventh (8.03m), respectively.

In 2008, both track & field and cross country, has seen its student-athletes earn academic honors, both in the conference and nationally. Following the most recent cross country season, Jenna Kingma was selected as the Toyo Tires Pac-10 Student-Athlete of the Year for Women's Cross Country to become the latest highly regarded honoree. Last year, April Kubishta was named the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year for women's track & field after Ryan Whiting (indoor) and Sarah Stevens (outdoor) were selected as the 2008 USTFCCCA Men's Field Scholar-Athlete and Women's Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Arizona State enters the indoor season as the defending national champions as both the men and the women captured titles at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. (March 14-15). The women scored 51 points to win their second crown in a row as LSU took second with 43 points. The men, who won their first indoor crown in program history, edged top-ranked Florida State, 44-41, for the title.

The Sun Devil sweep in Arkansas last March was just the second time in NCAA indoor championship history that the same school won both crowns. The only other school to do so was LSU in 2004. If ASU can win at least one title this indoor season, it will fare better than LSU as the 2005 titles went to Arkansas (men) and Tennessee (women).

Arizona State's women are the two-time defending champions after claiming crowns in the 2007 and 2008 meets. One of only five schools to win back-to-back indoor titles, the Sun Devil women are position to become only the second school to win three in a row or more following LSU's five in a row streak (1993-97) and another three in a row (2002-04) by the Tigers. The only other schools to have won back-to-back crowns were Nebraska (1983-84), Texas (1998-99) and UCLA (2000-01).

Heading into the indoor season, the men will look to defend their crown and, if successful, would become just the fourth school to win back-to-back titles, joining Kansas, UTEP (twice) and Arkansas (three times). The last time the men's champion won in back-to-back years was in 2005 and 2006 when host Arkansas won.

During the 2008 seasons, the Sun Devils combined to win six team championships with four from the women and two from the men. The women won a pair of conference championships, claiming the MPSF (indoor) and Pac-10 (outdoor) while also winning the NCAA Indoor Championships and NCAA Outdoor West Region. The men also won NCAA Indoor Championships and the NCAA Outdoor West Region, their first in both meets.

Last year, Arizona State athletes won seven individual national titles, including three indoors and four outdoors. Of those titles, only two return this year, including Ryan Whiting, the defending indoor shot put champion, and Sarah Stevens, the defending outdoor discus champion. Whiting won his first national title with a heave of 21.53m (71-03.50) to set the NCAA meet and Pac-10 indoor records. Stevens, who won the indoor shot put in 2007, captured her first outdoor title in the discus on her second-to-last throw (184-02) to edge teammate Tai Battle for the crown.

Three Sun Devils that won a combined five national titles last year are not back after graduating from ASU and exhausting their eligibility. Those athletes include 2008 U.S. Olympian Jacquelyn Johnson, Jessica Pressley and Kyle Alcorn. Johnson won her third indoor pentathlon crown with an NCAA indoor and NCAA meet record score of 4,496 points before winning her fourth outdoor heptathlon title. Pressley successfully defended her outdoor shot put crown while also earning All-America honors in the hammer and discus in the same meet. Alcorn was a vital player in the Sun Devil men's success as he won the indoor 3,000m run as the 14th-seeded runner and then captured the outdoor steeplechase.

Prior to finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field and earning a berth in the Beijing Olympics, Jacquelyn Johnson made history in the heptathlon at the NCAA meet as she became the first four-time champion in the event and only the fourth woman in NCAA history to capture the same event four times in a career. The Pac-10 and Arizona State record holder, the senior from Yuma, Ariz., joined the company of four-time champions Suzy Favor of Wisconsin in the 1,5000m run (1987-88-89-90), Seilala Sua of UCLA in the discus (1997-98-99-00) and Angela Williams of USC in the 100m dash (99-00-01-02).

In her specialty event (multi-events), Jacquelyn Johnson was a seven-time national champion, winning three indoor pentathlons and four outdoor heptathlons. The only non-first-place finish in the pentathlon came in 2004 when Johnson, a true freshman, finished second overall at the national meet to senior Hyleas Fountain.

Three marks recorded at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships by the Sun Devils found a place on the all-time world rankings. Ryan Whiting's toss of 21.53m (71-03.50) in the shot put ranks as the 33rd-best throw in the history of the indoor event. Those 33 marks were recorded by 13 different men with Whiting ranking 13th overall in the world and eighth among men from the United States.

Jacquelyn Johnson also appears on the all-time world rankings list with her 4,496 point-performance in the pentathlon at the NCAA Championships in 2008. Although that score ranks as the 96th-best (tie) all-time in the world, it ranks as the third-best among American women. The scores ahead of Johnson came from DeDee Nathan (4,753 in 1999) and Kym Carter (4,696 in 1995).

The distance medley relay team of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly Barbosa and Kyle Alcorn ran a school-record 9:32.49 and finished as the national runners-up. That time, which ranks 29th all-time on the world lists, sparked the Sun Devil men to the national title.

There are 15 athletes returning for the Sun Devils this year that have earned All-America honors in their ASU careers, including nine women and six men. Those women include Jeavon Benjamin, Shauntel Elcock, Stephanie Garnett, Kari Hardt, Ali Kielty, Jenna Kingma, Dominique' Maloy, Sarah Stevens and Charonda Williams with the men's group comprised of Nectaly Barbosa, Darryl Elston, Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Joel PhillipRyan Whiting. and

The 2009 Sun Devil rosters are made up of 96 student-athletes. There are 52 men and 44 women that will compete for the Sun Devils, including 25 men and 23 women that are returning from last year.

Of those 96 athletes on the roster this spring, 48 are new to the program, including 27 men and 21 women. Thirty of the 48 newcomers are freshmen, including 14 women and 16 men that are entering their first collegiate seasons after high school graduation.

Last year, six members of the program were honored with academic accolades from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) as three men and three women were named to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII teams. For the men, Justin Kremer and Ryan Whiting both earned first team honors while Jason Lewis was a second team selection. The women saw April Kubishta and Sarah StevensAli Kielty was a second-team honoree. each earned first team honors while

Arizona State's women became only the second team in Pac-10 history to win the conference crown three times in a row as the Sun Devils scored 186.5 points, the second-highest total in conference history (189.5 is the record). UCLA, which leads the league with 15 overall titles, had win streak of eight, four and three with the only other program to win multiple titles being Oregon, which won twice in a row. The Sun Devils' three titles also stands as the second-most in Pac-10 history.

For the second year in a row, the Sun Devil men came up short in the team standings as Oregon walked away with the title. The Ducks scored 144.5 points to defend their crown while the Sun Devils took second at 134, just 9.5 points off the leaders one year removed from finishing three points shy of the gold.

While the Sun Devils fell three points shy of UCLA's all-time point total of 189.5 (set in 1997), Arizona State did set a record as it recorded the largest margin of victory in Pac-10 Championships history. The Sun Devils' 69.5 margin over Stanford (186.5-117) is 8.5 points higher than UCLA's 1989 victory over Oregon (161-100) of 61 points. ASU nearly holds the record for lowest margin of victory as its 2.5 point win over Stanford in 2006 (154-151.5) is the second-smallest behind only UCLA's 2001 victory over USC, 155-153 (2.0 points).

The Sun Devils won a total of 12 events at the main portion of the Pac-10 Championships (not including the heptathlon/decathlon from the previous week), six by each gender, with two women and two men each winning two events. For the women, Charonda Williams swept the short sprints by capturing the 100m and 200m dash events while thrower Jessica Pressley doubled in the shot put and discus. On the men's side, Matt Turner won the long jump and the triple jump with Kyle Alcorn won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m.

Darryl Elston had a hand in a pair of victories as he captured the 200m dash and ran one of the legs on the victorious 4x400m relay with Justin Kremer, Marquis Profit and Joel Phillip to round out the men's winners while the women saw Sarah Stevens win the hammer throw before the team of Jeavon Benjamin, Jordan Durham, Shauntel Elcock and Dominique' Maloy combined to take the 4x400m relay.

The Sun Devil men and women set victory records for the program at the Pac-10 Championships as both genders won the most titles in a single season in Arizona State history. The women collected seven total crowns (including Jacquelyn Johnson's heptathlon crown the week prior) while the men totaled six. The previous best for the women was five, which was recorded each of the past two meets while the men's previous best also was five, which was recorded in 2005.

With her sweep of the 100m and 200m dashes (11.45 and 23.09, respectively), Charonda Williams became the ninth woman in Pac-10 history to capture both events in the same meet. She also is the first Sun Devil to accomplish the feat.

Also for the ninth time in Pac-10 history, the shot put and discus champion for the women was the same as Jessica Pressley threw 18.79m and 55.93m, respectively, to win the double. It is the second time a Sun Devil has pulled of the feat as Sarah Stevens won both events last year at Stanford.

For only the ninth time since 1976 (when the 5,000m run replaced the 2-mile run), the same man won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m run in the same meet as Kyle Alcorn captured both for ASU. Alcorn won the steeplechase in 8:43.81 to give ASU the crown in that event for the fifth year in a row before coming back to take the 5,000m in 14:12.76.

While the previous three doubles are quite remarkable, the final double carries a little more history as Matt Turner's wins in the long jump (7.84m) and triple jump (15.63m) made him only the fifth athlete to win both events in the same year since 1960 (48 years). He is the second Sun Devil to win both in the same year as Dwight Phillips did so in 1999.

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 teams and Johnson were not the only champions 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.

The Sun Devils will travel to Seattle next weekend to take part in the MPSF Indoor Championships, hosted by Washington. The meet will take place February 27-28 at the Dempsey Indoor Facility on the UW campus.