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Sun Devil track & field hits the road for three meets

April 02, 2008

With two home meets completed and nearly 30 regional qualifiers attained, the Arizona State University track and field team will head out on the road this week to two destinations as the outdoor season continues. Many of the team's members will travel south to Tucson for the Jim Click Multis (Thursday-Friday) and the Jim Click Invitational (Saturday) while a few Sun Devils will travel to the Stanford Invitational (Friday-Saturday) in Palo Alto, Calif.

The preseason team rankings were released by the USTFCCCA on March 26 with the rankings based upon points earned for an athlete's position on the NCAA descending order list (the final list of 2007 was used for the first ranking of the year). The men open the season ranked No. 8 with 172.36 points with Florida State leading the way with 259.63 points. LSU (247.33), Tennessee (209.00), Florida (195.32) and USC (188.89) round out the Top 5 men's teams. The women, winners of the last three NCAA championships, enters the year ranked No. 2 with 312.98 points while LSU leads with 324.05 points. Virginia Tech (238.37), Texas A&M (237.34) and USC (210.94) round out the Top 5 in the women's rankings.

Two weeks removed from claiming her sixth NCAA title, Jacquelyn Johnson was back in action at the ASU Invitational where she competed in several events. Johnson ran 13.19 in the 100m hurdles, the third fastest time in school history as well as the sixth-best in the nation right now and ninth in the world. She then hit a mark of 46.22m in the javelin to set the school record. This week, Johnson will begin her quest for her seventh national crown in the multi-events as she participates in the heptathlon at the Jim Click Multis in Tucson.

The ASU Invitational also was the first meet of the outdoor season for Ryan Whiting, the collegiate record holder in the indoor shot put (71-3.50). Whiting competed in the discus and launched the implement 61.11m or 200-06, the second-best mark in school history and the current national leader. With his discus mark and his outdoor shot put best of 20.35m (66-09.25), Whiting joins Gary Williky (20.78m shot & 62.02m discus) as the only two Sun Devils to record throws of 20-meters or better in the shot put and have a discus mark of over 200 feet. Williky holds the outdoor record in both events at ASU.

Whiting was not the only Sun Devil to break past the milestone marker of 200-feet as two more ASU throwers added that distinction to their resume with their marks in the hammer. For the women, Tai Battle went 61.33m or 201-02 to move into third on the ASU list and 10th in the nation currently. The men saw Tomas Navarro connect on a toss of 61.01m or 200-02, making him the fourth Sun Devil man to break 200 feet in the event. Teammate Jason Lewis was very close to joining him as he went 60.34m or 197-11.

And speaking of the success of the throwers early on this year, Jessica Pressley made her outdoor debut over the weekend and quickly placed her name toward the top of the national lists. Pressley currently stands second nationally in the discus with her mark of 54.24m while her hammer throw mark of 64.92m is the third best in the NCAA.

The field events at the ASU Invitational produced another fantastic finish as Sun Devil Matt Turner captured the audience's attention in the high jump. The senior went out and won the event as he cleared 2.20m (7-02.50) on his first attempt before nearly clearing 2.25m (7-04.50) on his third attempt. Turner, who has a personal best of 2.21m (7-03.00), the fourth-best mark in school history, is currently tied for the second-best mark in the nation and also is tied for the fifth-best clearance in the world so far this season.

Over the weekend, the Sun Devil men recorded 12 regional qualifiers with one-quarter of those marks being earned in the 400m hurdles. Newcomer Joel Phillip led the way as he took second in 51.78 and was followed by senior Marquis Profit, who was third in 51.92. Another newcomer, Darryl Elston, clocked in at 52.27 to finish fourth.

A pair of newcomers on the women's sprints side of things had strong showings as well in their first outdoor races of the year as Charonda Williams qualified regionally in the 200m dash and Dominique' Maloy qualified in the 400m dash. Williams, who also competed in the same event indoors this year at the NCAA Championships, clocked in at 23.94 to earn a regional berth. Maloy, a member of the third-place 4x400m relay at the indoor championships, won the 400m dash in 53.98. Both women ran the opening two legs of both the 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay, helping the shorter relay to a regional qualifier of 45.18 with Stephanie Garnett and Shauntel Elcock.

In the men's 1,500m run, a pair of Sun Devils battled one another to produce fast times in the event. Kyle Alcorn was in front much of the race before freshman Nectaly Barbosa made his move as the two came toward the finish. In the end, the rookie nipped the senior, placing second in 3:45.49 while Alcorn was third in 3:45.62, just 0.13 behind.

The Sun Devils won seven events last weekend at the ASU Invitational, including four women's events and three men's. For the women, Jacquelyn Johnson took the 100m hurdles in 13.19, Charonda Williams won the 200m in 23.94 and Dominique' Maloy took the 400m dash in 53.98. Maloy and Williams combined with Stephanie Garnett and Shauntel Elcock to win the 4x100m relay in 45.18 as well. In the men's events, two victories were attained on the track with Jimmie Gordon taking the 400m dash in 47.24 before joining with Darryl Elston, Marquis Profit and Joel Phillip to win the 4x400m relay in 3:08.56. The final victory came in the high jump where Matt Turner cleared 2.20m (7-02.50).

Through the opening few weekends of the outdoor season, the Sun Devils have produced several of the top marks in the nation. According to the April 1 NCAA descending order list, six men's marks and five women's rank in the Top 8 (scoring positions at the national meet). For the men, Ryan Whiting leads the nation in the discus (61.11m) while Matt Turner is tied for second in the high jump (2.20m). Nectaly BarbosaKyle Alcorn (3:45.62) are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 1,500m run while Brad Roth (69.52m) is fifth in the javelin and the 4x400m relay of Darryl Elston, Jimmie Gordon, Marquis Profit and Joel Phillip rank eighth (3:08.56). On the women's side, Jessica Pressley is ranked in the Top 3 in two events, coming in at No. 2 in the discus (54.14m) and No. 3 in the hammer (64.92m). April Kubishta is second in the pole vault (4.15m), just one centimeter off the lead while Tai Battle is third in the discus (53.97m). The final Top 8 placement right now is Jacquelyn Johnson in the 100m hurdles with her time of 13.19m. (3:45.49) and

In the women's javelin at the Baldy Castillo Invite, Addison McGrath qualified for the regional meet and finished fifth in the meet with her toss of 44.34m (145-06), the fourth-best throw in school history. The mark, which came on her second attempt, also came on her second attempt ever as she joined the team this season to give the event a try. McGrath was already a student-athlete at Arizona State before joining the team as she is a member of the No. 7-ranked water polo team, leading the team in scoring with 64 goals (fourth in the nation).

On March 14-15, the Sun Devils traveled 21 student-athletes to the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships and returned with both the men's and women's national team titles, accomplishing the feat for just the second time in NCAA history (LSU did so in 2004). The women scored 51 points with LSU finishing second with 43 points in the women's race while the men edged out favorite Florida State, 44-41, for their first indoor team crown.

The titles earned by the Sun Devil men and women are the 134th and 135th national titles captured by Arizona State in school history. The wins are the 39th and 66th national titles for the men and women, respectively, while 30 other titles were won in coed events (20 in mixed archery and 10 in mixed badminton).

With the team victory, the Sun Devil women successfully defended their first national tittle won last year when the team captured the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The Sun Devils, ranked No. 1 last year, edged No. 2 LSU, 38-33, to win their first indoor crown. This year, the rankings were reversed, but the Sun Devils still won.

Arizona State's women have been dominant over the course of the past year as the Sun Devils have won seven championship meets in a row. Those meets include the 2007 MPSF Indoor Championships, the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, the 2007 Pac-10 Championships, the 2007 NCAA West Region Championships, the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the 2008 MPSF Indoor Championships and the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships.

With 44 points, the Sun Devil men won their first indoor championship and became the 14th different men's program to capture the indoor crown since the NCAA began sponsoring an indoor meet in 1965. The title is the second in program history for the men as the 1977 team captured the outdoor championship, the first team title in ASU track & field history.

The men's team victory at the NCAA Indoor Championships marked the first men's team title earned for the Sun Devil athletic department since 1996 when the men's golf team captured their second championship (also won in 1990). Prior to the women winning last year and this year, the previous Sun Devil national champions were the 1998 women's golf team.

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 women's team was not the only repeat winners on the weekend for the Sun Devils as Jacquelyn Johnson secured her third indoor pentathlon crown in a row, scoring a collegiate and meet record 4,496 points. In her career, Johnson has three titles and one runner-up finish (second as a true freshman in 2004).

When Jacquelyn Johnson successfully defended her indoor pentathlon crowns she won at the 2006 and 2007 NCAA meets, she became just the ninth woman to win the same event three times in a career at the indoor championships and the second Sun Devil, joining Maicel Malone, who won the 400m dash in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Other three-time champions include Regina Cavanaugh of Rice (shot put, 1984-85-86), Suzy Favor of Wisconsin (mile, 1987-89-90), Vicki Huber of Villanova (3,000m, 1987-88-89), Carlette Guidry of Texas (55m, 1988-90-91), Amy Wickus of Wisconsin (800m, 1993-94-95), Amy Acuff of UCLA (high jump, 1994-95-96) and Trecia Smith of Pittsburgh (long jump, 1997-98-99).

The teams and Johnson were not the only champions over the weekend 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.

Needing some big points in the 3,000m run at the end of the meet, Kyle Alcorn stepped onto the track as the 14th-ranked runner in the race. Alcorn surged ahead mid-way through the race and took the lead before relinquishing it. Sitting in fifth place with two laps to go, Alcorn again surged ahead and captured the lead that he held onto for the remainder of the race, crossing the line in 8:00.82 to not only win his first national title, but giving ASU 10 team points and tying it with Florida State at 38 points heading into the 4x400m relay.

With the team race down to ASU and FSU and only the 4x400m relay remaining, all the Sun Devils had to do was finish ahead of the Seminoles in the standings of the race to secure a team crown. In the three-heat race, FSU ran first and clocked a time of 3:07.47, meaning ASU had to finish faster, which it did as Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Joel Phillip clocked in at 3:06.34 to win the third heat and place third overall, pushing FSU to sixth in the race and giving ASU the team title.

The United States Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced its national award winners following the NCAA Indoor Championships with four Sun Devils garnering five of the eight national accolades available. Greg Kraft was selected as the Women's National and Men's National Coach of the Year; David Dumble was voted the Women's National Assistant Coach of the Year; Jacquelyn Johnson was named the Women's National Field Athlete of the Year; and Ryan Whiting was selected as the Men's National Field Athlete of the Year.

The women had three runner-up finishes and the men added a pair to help both teams to victory in Fayetteville. On the men's side, second-place finishes were recorded by April Kubishta (pole vault), Sarah Stevens (shot put) and Jessica Pressley (weight throw) while the men's second-place finishers included Joel Phillip (400m dash) and the distance medley relay of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly BarbosaKyle Alcorn. and

From the results recorded at the NCAA Indoor Championships, five women's marks and three men's rank among the Top 5 all-time in ASU history, including three women's and two men's school records. On the women's side, school-records went to April Kubishta in the pole vault (4.30m), Jessica Pressley in the weight throw (22.04m) and Jacquelyn Johnson in the pentathlon (4,496 points) while the men's records included Ryan Whiting in the shot put (21.73m) and the distance medley relay of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly Barbosa and Kyle Alcorn. Both 4x400m relays rank among the Top 3, including the second-best time of 3:33.53 by the women (Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock, Jordan Durham, Jeavon Benjamin) and the third-best time of 3:06.34 by the men (Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Kremer, Joel Phillip). The final Top 3 mark came from Johnson in the 60m hurdles (8.23).

Overall, nine women and nine men each earned All-America honors from the USTFCCCA, including two women and four men that earned two honors each. Multiple honors were earned by Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon & long jump) and Jessica Pressley (shot put & weight throw) for the women and men's competitors Kyle Alcorn (3,000m & DMR), Jimmie Gordon (400m & 4x400m), Justin Kremer (4x400m & DMR) and Joel Phillip (400m & 4x400m). Other women's All-Americans included Jeavon Benjamin (4x400m), Jordan Durham (4x400m), Shauntel ElcockStephanie Garnett (long jump), April Kubishta (pole vault), Dominique' Maloy (4x400m) and Sarah Stevens (shot put) while the men included Nectaly Barbosa (DMR), Darryl Elston (4x400m), Joey Heller (DMR), Matt Turner (long jump) and Ryan Whiting (shot put). (4x400m),

On March 30, former Sun Devil Amy Hastings will represent the United States as a member of the 2008 Team USA World Cross Country squad that will head to Edinburgh, Great Britain, for the 36th IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Hastings, a 10-time All-American at Arizona State, will be running for Team USA for the first time in her career.

Following the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend, two men and three women ended the indoor season with marks ranking in the Top 20 on the world lists. For the men, Ryan Whiting ranks third in the shot put with a toss of 21.73m while Joel Phillip stands 10th in the 400m dash at 46.27. On the women's side, Jessica Pressley and Sarah Stevens both are Top 15 in the weight throw with Pressley ranking fourth at 22.04m and Stevens in 13th at 20.94m. Jacquelyn Johnson is 16th in the pentathlon with 4,496 points.

Heading into the national meet, a trio of Sun Devils were honored with awards for their performances so far this indoor season. The United States Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) selected Jacquelyn Johnson as the Women's West Region Field Athlete of the Year, picked head coach Greg Kraft as the Women's West Region Coach of the Year and chose throws coach David Dumble as the Women's West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. All three are now eligible for the national honor that will be announced following the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend.

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) announced its annual awards Tuesday with the Sun Devils taking three of the four honors. Greg Kraft was selected as the MPSF Women's Coach of the Year while Jacquelyn Johnson was named the MPSF Women's Athlete of the Year and Ryan Whiting was named the MPSF Men's Athlete of the Year. The honor is the first for Whiting and Johnson and the second in a row for Kraft. Sarah Stevens won the women's athlete honor last year.

The shot put event has been good to the Sun Devils in recent years and this year looks to be no different this year under coach David Dumble. Last season, six All-America honors were earned with Sarah Stevens, Jessica Pressley and Ryan Whiting each earning the accolade at both the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor meets. During the indoor season, Ryan Whiting led the nation and set a collegiate record with the third-best throw in the world so far this year at 21.73m while Sarah Stevens (second) and Jessica Pressley (fifth) also finished well at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

At the Washington Invite (Feb. 2), Sun Devil senior Kyle Alcorn clocked a time of 3:59.82 in the mile to become only the third Sun Devil runner to break the four-minute mark in the event and just the second indoors. Alcorn is second on the ASU indoor lists behind Brandon Strong, who ran 3:59.59 in 2002, and is third overall in ASU history behind the 3:56.4 turned in by Chuck LaBenz in 1970.

Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium went under the knife recently as the home of Arizona State University track and field was resurfaced with the latest product from Mondo, Mondotrack FTX. ASU's home venue is the first in the world to be surfaced with the product, which also will be installed at Beijing's Olympic Stadium in time for the 2008 Summer Games. Along with the new surface came an expanded shot put area and the addition of a second 'D' zone (at the north end of the infield). The majority of the surface will be maroon/red in color with the only exceptions being the three exchange zones on the track and the non-runway areas of both 'D' zones, which will be gold. The project was complete Jan. 29.

Athletic honors were not the only awards attained during the year as the Sun Devils placed 20 women and 10 men on the Pac-10 All-Academic lists while seven women and two men earned MPSF All-Academic recognition for the indoor season. A total of 13 student-athletes (10 women and three men) were selected for USTFCCCA National All-Academic honors while three women -- Brooke Bennett, April Kubishta and Sarah Stevens -- earned ESPN The Magazine All-District VIII honors. The USTFCCCA also bestowed three more prestigious academic honors on the Sun Devils following the 2007 season as the women's team earned USTFCCCA Women's Division I All-Academic Team honors before being selected as the 2007 USTFCCCA Women' Indoor and Outdoor All-Academic Team of the Year. Individually, Stevens was selected as the USTFCCCA Women's Indoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Several of the team's newcomers have already made an impact this year as members of a cross country program that qualified both a women's and men's team to the 2007 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. At the meet, the women finished fourth overall to earn their second trophy (Top 4 finishers) in three years while the men, who entered the meet ranked 30th, finished 26th overall. Dating back to the 2005 cross country national meet (three cross country seasons, two indoor track & field seasons and two outdoor track & field seasons), the Sun Devil women have accumulated six trophies, including two national titles (2007 indoor and 2007 outdoor), one third-place finish (2006 indoor) and three fourth-place showings (2005 and 2007 cross country and 2006 outdoor).

2008 PAC-10 HOSTS
The 2008 Pac-10 Championships will be held at Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium this year with events being contested on two separate weekends. The women's heptathlon and men's decathlon will take place on May 9-10 with the remainder of the events being held one week later, May 16-17.

Next up, ASU will play host to the 29th Sun Angel Track Classic presented by Coca-Cola on April 11-12 on Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe. The hammer will be contested on Friday (April 11) with all other events taking place Saturday. Numerous Olympians and national champions will be on hand, including Gold Medalist and former Sun Devil Dwight Phillips in the long jump.