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Sun Devil harriers head to Terre Haute for NCAA meet

November 13, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University men's and women's cross country teams will close out their 2007 season on Monday, November 19, as both teams will head to the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The men's 10,000m race leads the day off at 12:08 p.m. EST (10:08 a.m. Arizona) and will be followed by the women's 6,000m race at 12:58 p.m. EST (10:58 a.m. Arizona).

CSTV will broadcast the NCAA Cross Country Championships live from Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday, November 19. Live coverage will begin at noon EST with a rebroadcasting of the event scheduled for 11 p.m. EST as well.

The 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships will consist of 31 teams in the women's 6,000m run and the men's 10,000m run with a total of 255 runners (217 runners attached to teams and 38 individual competitors selected as at-large entries). The Top 4 in the team standings will earn trophies while the Top 25 individuals will be named All-Americans.

The women scored 106 points to finish third and men posted 141 points to finish sixth at the NCAA West Region Championships held at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ore., Saturday. Jenna Kingma led the way for the women with her eighth-place finish while the men were paced by Kyle Alcorn, who finished seventh overall in the men's 10,000 run. Both teams were later selected to compete in the NCAA Championships as at-large selections.

Four women and two men placed among the Top 25 at the regional meet to earn all-region accolades. Jenna Kingma (eighth), Ali Kielty (11th), Camille Olson (23rd) and Kari Hardt (25th) each earned the regional honor for the women while Kyle Alcorn (7th) and Jeff Helmer (14th) secured the accolade for the men.

Individually, the Sun Devils will be looking to place among the Top 25 in their respective races to earn All-America honors. To date, four men (six awards) and five women (eight awards) have earned the national honor in the history of the program. The last man to do so was Aaron Aguayo, who earned his second All-America honor in cross country, last year when he placed ninth, the highest finish for an ASU male in the national meet. The last woman to earn the honor was Amy Hastings, who claimed her third cross country honor in 2005 by placing 13th overall.

By earning a berth into the NCAA Championships as an at-large selection, the Sun Devil women extended their current streak to 10 years in a row at the national meet, keeping them tied with North Carolina for the sixth-longest active streak in the nation. BYU and Providence lead the way with 19 years in a row and are followed by Colorado (16), Stanford (15) and NC State (13), all of which will run in Terre Haute on Monday.

The national race will not only be the final event of the collegiate season, it also marks the final cross country race for a pair of senior men; Kyle Alcorn and Joey Heller. Alcorn will be running in his first NCAA cross country race while Heller is making his second appearance in the meet after placing 133rd in the 2005 event, also in Terre Haute.

The Sun Devils enter the NCAA Championships with both teams ranked among the Top 30 nationally with the women sliding one position to No. 6 and the men falling three spots to No. 30 in the final USTFCCCA Top 30 of the cross country season. The ranking for the women means they have been in the Top 7 all season with four weeks at No. 5, four at No. 6 and once at No. 7. After not being ranked during the first two weeks of the season, the men have ended the year with a Top 30 ranking in each of the past seven weeks.

Arizona State's women's team is No. 6 this week in the national rankings, marking the 46th week the Sun Devils have held a place among the Top 10 and their ninth week in a row in the Top 10. Dating back to October 12, 1998, the ASU women have been ranked in the national Top 30 for 73-consecutive weeks while ranking in the Top 20 in 69 of those weeks, including the past 27 rankings. The Sun Devils have been ranked in the Top 5 on 18 occasions with No. 3 rankings on September 27, 1999, October 7, 2003, and October 13, 2003, standing as the highest the team has been ranked.

The Arizona State men returned to the national rankings on October 2 for the first time since also being ranked No. 20 on October 10 last year. Ranked 30th this week, the ranking marks the 55th time the Sun Devils have been ranked in the Top 30.

The women are making their 10th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships and will be looking for their second trophy finish (Top 4) in three years after taking fourth in 2005. During the past nine seasons, the women have posted nine Top 25 finishes as a team with three Top 10 placements as well. The men have raced at the national meet four times previously with their best showing coming in 2004 when they took eighth. Overall, the Sun Devil men have placed in the Top 20 all four times and in their last appearance (2005), placed 17th overall.

Both Sun Devil teams competed in the NCAA Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute earlier this season with the women placing second (of 35 teams) in the blue race while the men took ninth (of 40 teams) in the blue race. Jenna Kingma led the women with her ninth-place finish while Kyle Alcorn paced the men with a 19th-place showing.

Aaron Aguayo turned in one of the top performances in program history and the women placed 13th as a team at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last year in Terre Haute. Aguayo, running as an individual qualifier, finished the 10,000m course in 31:06.60 to place ninth overall and earning the highest individual finish in men's program history, surpassing Todd Lewis' 11th-place showing in 1991. On the women's side, Jenna Kingma was the team's top finisher as she finished in 60th place with Ali Kielty (68th) and freshman Kari Hardt (88th) right behind her.

Camille Olson, a true freshman, has turned in a pair of strong performances in the championship events this season, only her second and third collegiate races with the Sun Devils. After finishing 44th at the NCAA Pre-National Meet in October, her ASU debut, Olson placed 18th at the Pac-10 Championships before finishing 23rd at the NCAA West Region Championships last weekend. Her finish at the Region meet earned her all-region honors.

In late October, renovations began on Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium with the construction of the northern 'D' zone and an expanded shot put area on the south end of the infield. This week and last, demolition crews were on hand to begin removing the old running surface at the home of the Sun Devils to make way for a new Mondotrack FTX surface, the first of its kind in the world. Upon its completion, the surface will once again host some of the premier talent in the nation, including the 2008 Pac-10 Track & Field Championships. Later next year, the same surface will be installed in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Sun Devil men, after a recalculation of the team scores, won the 22nd Arizona State Invitational last Friday afternoon at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, scoring 37 points with Arizona taking second with 88 points. Originally, Arizona won the race, but one of its runners was unattached and should not have figured into the scoring. Following the adjustment, the Sun Devils claimed their first team title since winning a trio of meets in 2005: the George Kyte Invitational, the ASU Invitational and Canyon West Classic (this week's meet).

Three former Sun Devil women recently competed in the TUFTS Health Place 10k for Women on October 8 in Boston, Mass., which also served as the U.S. Women's 10k National Championship. In the race, Desiree Davila placed sixth overall in 33:22 and was followed by Amy Hastings in 11th (33:54) and Alvina Begay in 34th (35:23).

At the Dave Murray Invitational (September 14), Jenna Kingma covered the 4,000m course in 13:42.52 to win the individual title and becoming the 15th different Sun Devil to win a cross country race in her career. The third Arizona State runner to win the meet behind Brooke Bennett (2005) and back-to-back winner Amy Hastings (2003, 2004), Kingma is now tied for fifth on the all-time victories list at Arizona State.

Former Sun Devil All-American Desiree Davila will once again represent the United States when she competes in the IAAF World Road Racing Championships set for October 14 in Udine, Italy. Davila, who placed 43rd overall and fourth on Team USA in last year's inaugural event in Debrecen, Hungary, will compete in the 20km event that sends five runners on the course for each represented nation with the Top 3 finishers from each team combining their times for an overall score. The U.S. women placed 10th last year.

Former Sun Devil Fasil Bizuneh competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon over the weekend with the former All-American placing 13th overall in 2:16:47.

The 2007 collegiate cross country season concludes with the NCAA meet. Next up for the Sun Devil distance runners will be the start of the 2008 indoor track and field season that will open in mid January with meets in Flagstaff and Seattle.