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Sun Devils set to host 22nd ASU Cross Country Invite

October 02, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - Coming off another strong showing at the Roy Griak Invitational, the Arizona State University cross country program will hit the trails again this weekend as the Sun Devils are set to play host to the 22nd Arizona State Invitational on Friday afternoon at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. The women will lead off the meet with a 5,000m run at 5 p.m. with the men's 8,000m race following (approximate start time of 5:30 p.m.). Kiwanis Park is located at Baseline Road and All-American Way just six miles south of campus.

In the latest national rankings released this week (Oct. 1 for regional and Oct. 2 for national polls), the Sun Devil men and women find themselves ranked in both polls. The women remained No. 6 nationally for the second week in a row and slipped one spot to No. 3 in the West Region while the men cracked the national Top 30 for the first time this year, coming in at No. 20, while moving up one place to No. 7 in the West.

Arizona State's women's team is No. 6 this week in the national rankings, marking the 40th week the Sun Devils have held a place among the Top 10. Dating back to October 12, 1998, the ASU women have been ranked in the national Top 30 for 67-consecutive weeks while ranking in the Top 20 in 63 of those weeks, including the past 21 rankings. The Sun Devils have been ranked in the Top 5 on 14 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 this week for the first time since also being ranked No. 20 on October 10 last year. The ranking, which followed the men's impressive runner-up showing at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota last weekend, marks the 49th time the Sun Devils have been ranked in the Top 30 and their 33rd Top 20 ranking.

As of Tuesday, 13 schools have entered the ASU Invitational, including several of the community colleges in the Valley of the Sun. Along with the host Devils, teams competing include: Arizona, CS Northridge, Dine College, Gateway CC, Glendale CC, Mesa CC, New Mexico State, Pepperdine, Phoenix College, Pima CC, Scottsdale CC and Western New Mexico.

The Sun Devil women continue to impress each time they field a team at the Roy Griak Invitational, this time capturing second place by only three points to host Minnesota. In the nine years the Sun Devils have competed in the race the women have never placed lower than third in the standings (2000) and have won the race on four occasions (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005). The second-place finish was the second in a row for ASU and their fourth overall runner-up showing in Minneapolis (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007).

The men went to Minnesota looking to build upon their fourth-place showing in 2006, the second-best finish in their eight trips to the Roy Griak Invitational. The Sun Devils returned home with their best finish yet at the meet, taking second place, just four points off No. 19 Northern Arizona's winning total of 84 points. The unranked Sun Devils' previous best finish was its third-place finish at the 2004 running.

At the Roy Griak Invitational, Kari Hardt led the women as she placed fourth overall while the men were led by Kyle Alcorn and his fifth-place showing.

Last year, the women, running as a 'B' team, placed third overall and second among collegiate teams with the ASU Alumni/Uff is Tough team winning with 36 points, followed by the University of Victoria in second (58) and ASU third (80), just one point ahead of Northern Arizona. On the men's side, ASU placed fourth with 108 points while Arizona (40) won the meet. ASU Alumni/Uff is Tough took runner-up honors (65) with Rice placing third (82).

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.

While Davila will compete for Team USA this month, another former Sun Devil distance runner is preparing to compete for one of the first Olympic berths as Fasil Bizuneh will run in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon on November 3 in New York City. Held around and near Central Park, the marathon will feature over 150 athletes competing for one of three spots on the Team USA roster. Bizuneh was a four-time All-American for the Sun Devils, including the first male to earn two national honors in cross country. Bizuneh also added a pair of All-America honors in the outdoor 10,000m run.

The 2007 Arizona State coaching staff is comprised of Louie Quintana and Ryan Cole. Quintana is back for his fourth season as the head coach of the harriers and will look to continue his efforts of building one of the top distance programs in the Pac-10 Conference and the NCAA. During his time in Tempe, Quintana has led the women to three NCAA appearances which continued the team's nine-year run, the sixth-longest stretch in the nation. Quintana's women, who have placed second in the Pac-10 each of the past three years, earned their first trophy finish in 2005 as the team took fourth at the NCAA Championships. Cole joins the staff as a graduate assistant coach.

Ryan Cole comes to Tempe after graduating from Wisconsin in 2006 and serving as an assistant coach at NCAA Division II Northwood University in Midland, Mich. Cole competed at Wisconsin for three seasons before using his final year of eligibility at Grand Valley State University, an NCAA Division II school in Allendale, Mich., where he was a cross country All-American for the Lakers. Cole replaces former assistant coach Jeremy Rasmussen, who is now the head women's cross country coach and assistant track & field coach at Illinois, and Director of Operations Rhonda Riley, who is now the assistant women's cross country and track & field coach at Vanderbilt.

With their selection into the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the Sun Devil women have now advanced to nine-consecutive national meets, the sixth-longest streak in the nation currently, tying them with North Carolina. BYU and Providence lead the way having made the field in 18-consecutive years while Colorado is third (15 years), Stanford is fourth (14 years) and North Carolina State is fifth (12 years) on the list.

Last year, four women and two men earned honors from the Pac-10 Conference, including Ali Kielty, who was selected as the 2007 Pac-10 Women's Newcomer of the Year. Cassie Bando and Brooke Bennett each earned First Team All-Pac-10 honors while Kielty joined Jenna Kingma as second team selections. On the men's side, Aaron Aguayo was a first team selection while Kyle Alcorn was a second team honoree.

One man and five women each garnered NCAA All-West Region honors last year as all six individuals placed among the Top 25 at the regional race in Portland, Ore. Aaron Aguayo, despite a fall in the mud with under 600 meters remaining in the race, charged hard at the finish line to place second overall in the men's race while Cassie Bando, Brooke Bennett, Kari Hardt, Ali Kielty and Jenna Kingma all finished in the Top 25 for the women.

During the 2007 track and field season, the distance corps played a role in helping the Sun Devil women capture all five team titles they competed for. During the indoor season, Amy Hastings won the 3,000m run to help the team to the MPSF Indoor Championship title, the program's first indoor team crown. Three weeks later, Hastings earned All-America honors in both the 3,000m run and 5,000m run at the NCAA Indoor Championships to help the team secure its first national title. Outdoors, the women won the Pac-10 for the second year in a row before claiming titles in the NCAA West Region and the NCAA Championships. Hastings earned All-America honors in the 10,000m run at the outdoor national meet.

The 2007 Sun Devil rosters are comprised of 39 student-athletes with 12 different states represented. Arizona is home to 19 of the runners while California (seven) and Washington (four) each are the only states with multiple residents. The remaining states, with an eastern flavor, include student-athletes from Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.

A pair of meets are on the schedule next Saturday as the Sun Devils will split their roster for one meet on the road and one at home. The top runners on the roster will head to the site of the 2007 NCAA Championships, Terre Haute, Ind., on October 13 for the 2007 NCAA Pre-National Meet. The remaining members of the team will return to Kiwanis Park for the Canyon West Classic which is hosted by Mesa Community College.