Track & field heads to Flagstaff for NAU Tune-Up meet
The Arizona State University track and field team will send several athletes to Flagstaff, Ariz., this weekend to compete in the NAU Tune-Up, which will be held Saturday inside the Walkup Skydome on the Northern Arizona campus. The meet will serve as the final competition for the Sun Devils before they return to Seattle next weekend for the MPSF Championships.
The USTFCCCA released its latest national rankings on Wednesday (February 20) with the Sun Devils highly ranked. Based upon points earned in relation to an athlete/relay's position on the NCAA descending order list, the Arizona State men are No. 1 this week with 120.56 points while the women are No. 2 with 148.01 (LSU is No. 1 at 186.41). Last week, the men were No. 2 and the women No. 6, but rose higher this week thanks to several strong performances at the Iowa State Classic in Ames.
ONE OTHER MEET
While the current Sun Devils will be competing indoors in Flagstaff, Ariz., a pair of former Devils will set their sights on national titles this weekend as both Amy Hastings and Trevell Quinley will compete at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships inside the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center in Boston. Hastings will compete in the 3,000m run on Saturday while Quinley will compete in the long jump on Sunday.
WHITING GOES DEEP... AGAIN
At the Iowa State Classic, Ryan Whiting won the men's shot put with a toss of 20.75m (68-01.00), bettering his own school record and nation-leading mark of 20.38m set one week earlier. Ranked No. 7 in the world currently, Whiting is ahead of his closest competitor, Russ Winger of Idaho, by over one and one-half feet (66-6.50 for Winger).
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADERS
While Whiting is the lone Sun Devil man to lead the nation in an event this season, the women have three. Jacquelyn Johnson, who has automatically qualified in one event and provisionally qualified for three others, leads the way in the pentathlon with 4,312 points, nearly 200 points ahead of second-place. Sarah Stevens holds top billing in the shot put with her mark of 17.78m (58-04.00), which is a little over one-foot past second on the list. The final leader is a co-leader as April Kubishta, the defending outdoor champion, and Kate Sultanova (Kansas) have each cleared 4.30m (14-01.25) in the pole vault this season.
THEY HAVE A SHOT (PUT)
The shot put event has been good to the Sun Devils in recent years and this year looks to be no different. 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. So far this year, Whiting (20.75m) and Stevens (17.78m), the defending indoor national champion, hold the top marks in the nation while Pressley (17.12m), the defending outdoor title holder, ranks fourth in the nation.
Over the weekend at the Iowa State Classic, the Sun Devils earned three automatic berths into the NCAA Championships with one being a new addition to the list. Both Sarah Stevens (17.78m) and Ryan Whiting (20.75m) improved on previous automatic qualifying marks from last week while Jessica Pressley moved off the provisional list and onto the auto list with her toss of 17.12m in the shot put to join the other two throwers.
KREMER GETTING GRAND
Justin Kremer came to Tempe from a small school in Grand Canyon, Ariz., and has blossomed into one of the top quarter-milers in the nation this year. The sophomore has lowered his 400m dash time each week and currently ranks No. 7 in the nation with his time of 46.78 that he ran at the Iowa State Classic over the weekend. Kremer also had a hand in helping the Sun Devil 4x400m relay qualify for the national meet as he joined Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston and Joel Phillip in running 3:06.58, the second-fastest time in the nation this year as well as the third-fastest in school history.
Over the weekend, a pair of freshmen etched their names into the Arizona State all-time Top 5 indoor lists. At the Iowa State Classic, Dominique' Maloy placed her name among the best in school history in a pair of events as her time of 7.48 in the 60m dash and 24.00 in the 200m dash both rank as the fifth-fastest at ASU. On the men's side, Nectaly Barbosa made his first individual appearance of the season at the Husky Classic and turned in the second-fastest 800m time in program history, running 1:49.87, just 0.36 off the record of Treg Scott (1:49.51) run in 1985. Barbosa joins the Top 5 for the second time this year as he joined Jack Mann, Jimmie Gordon and Kyle Alcorn in running the second-best distance medley relay in school history (9:43.39) earlier this season.
Along with Maloy and Barbosa, three more men's marks and four more women's marks also rank among the Top 5 all-time at Arizona State. For the men, Ryan Whiting's toss of 20.75m (68-01.00) bettered his school-record of 20.38m from one week prior while Kyle Alcorn ran 7:55.63, the second-fastest 3,000m run in school history. The final men's Top 5 performance came from the 4x400m relay of Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Joel Phillip, who ran the third-fastest time of 3:06.58. For the women, Jessica Pressley improved her No. 2 standing in the shot put with a toss of 17.12m (56-02.00) while Charonda Williams (7.46) and Jacquelyn Johnson (8.23) both moved into third on the 60m dash and 60m hurdles lists, respectively. Jasmine Chaney moved up to fourth in the 60m hurdles at 8.49 to round out the top performers.
VICTORY IS MINE
Three women and two men captured wins over the weekend, starting with April Kubishta, who won the pole vault with a clearance of 4.20m (13-09.25) at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. In Ames, Iowa, the women saw Sarah Stevens win the shot put with her national-leading toss of 17.78m (58-04.00) while the 4x400m relay of Jordan Durham, Shauntel Elcock, Dominique' Maloy and Jeavon Benjamin won in 3:38.65. On the men's side, Ryan Whiting won the shot put with a nation-leading and school-record toss of 20.75m (68-01.00) while Matt Turner took the title in the long jump at 7.80m (25-07.25).
ON THE LIST
Six individuals and a pair of relays recorded provisional qualifying marks over the weekend that are either new to the list this week or improvements from prior entries. On the women's side, Kari Hardt (9:29.00) qualified in the 3,000m run, Jacquelyn Johnson (8.23) improved her 60m hurdle time and Sarah Stevens (20.79m) improved her mark in the weight throw while the 4x400m relay of Jordan Durham, Shauntel Elcock, Dominique' Maloy and Jeavon Benjamin (3:38.65) qualified the relay for the first time. On the men's side, Kyle AlcornNectaly Barbosa (1:49.87) qualified in his first event by making the list in the 800m run and Justin Kremer (46.78) improved his 400m dash time before joining Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston and Joel Phillip qualified in his second event, making the list in the 3,000m run (7:55.63), (3:06.58) in qualifying the 4x400m relay for the national meet.
WHERE THEY STAND
Along with the four national leaders, ASU has five men and five women that rank among the Top 8 nationally this week. For the men, the Top 8 contains the second-ranked 4x400m relay of Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Joel Phillip, who ran 3:06.58 last weekend at Iowa State, and Matt Turner, who ranks third in the long jump at 7.85m (25-09.25). Gordon (fourth at 46.72) and Kremer (seventh at 46.78) are joined by Kyle Alcorn (eighth at 3:59.82). The Sun Devil women have eight marks in the Top 8 nationally, all of which come from the field events. Jacquelyn Johnson ranks seventh in the high jump at 1.83m (6-0.00) and is tied for eighth in the long jump 6.34m (20-09.75). Sarah Stevens ranks seventh in the weight throw (20.79m/68-02.50) and is joined by Jessica Pressley, who ranks fourth in both the shot put (17.12m/56-02.00) and the weight throw (21.06m/69-01.25).
WHERE IN THE WORLD
In the latest world rankings, five current Sun Devils hold marks that rank among the Top 20, including Sarah Stevens, who ranks No. 13 in the weight throw (20.79m) and No. 16 in the shot put (17.78m). Jessica Pressley is the only other woman on the list as she ranks No. 9 in the weight throw (21.06m). The men are led by Ryan Whiting, who is No. 7 in the shot put (20.75m) while Jason Lewis is No. 17 in the weight throw (20.94m) and Jimmie Gordon is No 20 in the 400m dash (46.72).
WHERE THEY STAND - PART II
The Sun Devils received three signed National Letters of Intent on February 6, adding three prep standouts to the program in time for the 2009 season, and have received commitments from several others (more information will be released on those signings at a later date). The new additions include second-generation Sun Devil Allante Battle (sprints) for the men's team and women's team additions Devan Coon (sprints) and Kayla Sanchez (sprints & hurdles). Here is a quick look at the new additions:
• Battle, a local product of Desert Vista HS in Phoenix, is the son of the former Anna Van, an ASU All-American in long jump and triple jump, and Greg Battle, a former linebacker for the ASU football team. Battle (10.64, 21.33, 47.17) won the 100m, 200m and 400m events at the state level last year, all with personal best times. He also is a standout on the gridiron and could be a two-sport athlete at ASU.
• Coon competes for Schuylkill Valley HS in Leesport, Pa., and holds the state record in the 400m dash in just her third time running the event. She is a four-time all-state selection (three times in the 200m dash and once in the 400m dash). Coon (24.41, 55.17) placed fourth at the 2007 USATF Youth Nationals in the 400m and sixth in the 200m.
• Sanchez is a nine-time state champion at Carson HS (Carson City, Nev.) after sweeping the 100m dash, 200m dash and 300m hurdles in her first three years of competition. The state record holder in the 300m hurdles, Sanchez (11.92, 24.28, 42.34) ranks fourth nationally among returning prep athletes in the 300m hurdles. She was selected as the Nevada Athlete of the Year twice (2005, 2006).
ALCORN GOES SUB-FOUR
At the Washington Invitational (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 completed Jan. 29.
HOME OF CHAMPIONS
The Sun Devil women enter the 2008 season as the defending national champions, sweeping both the 2007 NCAA Indoor and 2007 NCAA Outdoor championship meets last year for their first and second national team titles, respectively. The women also won titles in three other championship events they competed, including their first indoor conference crown at the MPSF Championships, their second Pac-10 Championship in a row and their first NCAA West Region Championship.
LOOKING TO REPEAT
If the women are successful in their bid to defend their indoor title won at the NCAA Championships last season, it will mark just the sixth time since its inception in 1983 that the same school has won at least two titles in a row. The last to do so was LSU, who won titles in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Others to win twice or more in a row where Nebraska (1983, 1984), LSU (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997), Texas (1998, 1999) and UCLA (2000, 2001).
Four women return this year after winning individual national titles during the 2007 season, including one athlete who won a pair of titles. Jacquelyn Johnson successfully defended her crowns as she won her second indoor pentathlon title before securing the third outdoor heptathlon title of her career. At the indoor meet, Sarah Stevens won her first national title as she captured the shot put on her final throw of the competition while teammate Jessica Pressley captured her first title during the outdoor season, also winning the shot put. The final national champion for Arizona State last year came in the pole vault as April Kubishta was perfect through each height in the finals of the outdoor event to win the crown.
MORE ON JOHNSON
The two-time indoor pentathlon and three-time outdoor heptathlon national champion will also be looking to add her name to an elite list come championship time as very few have found as much success as Johnson. Indoors, only eight other women in NCAA history have won the same event three times in a career while outdoors sees a list of just three that are four-time champions.
Nine women and three men return to the track this season with All-America honors earned during the 2007, totaling 14 honors for the women and four for the men. Indoors, Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon), Jessica Pressley (shot put) and Sarah Stevens (shot put and weight throw) return and are joined by Matt Turner (long jump) and Ryan Whiting (shot put), who also earned the national award at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships last year. During the outdoor season, Johnson (heptathlon), Pressley (shot put) and Stevens (shot put and hammer) are joined by Tai Battle (discus), Jordan Durham (4x400m relay), Shauntel Elcock (4x400m relay) and April Kubishta (pole vault) as the women's honorees while Whiting (shot put) is joined by Kyle Alcorn (3,000m steeplechase) on the men's list. Two more women bring All-America honors with them to the track that were earned in November as both Jenna Kingma and Ali Kielty each earned the national accolade in cross country.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
Along with the numerous team titles and All-America honors attained in 2007, several individuals were honored with awards at the conference, region and national levels. During the 2007 indoor season, Jacquelyn Johnson (pentathlon) and former NCAA Champion Maicel Malone (400m dash) were selected to the NCAA Division I Silver Anniversary Team, which recognized one outstanding athlete per indoor event from the first 25 years the national organization had conducted championship events. The United States Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) honored a trio of Sun Devils last year as head coach Greg Kraft was named the USTFCCCA Women's National and West Region Coach of the Year while West Region Athlete of the Year honors went to Sarah Stevens (field events) and Amy Hastings (track events). Kraft and Stevens also were honored by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the indoor conference ASU participates in, by selecting the duo as the MPSF Women's Coach and MPSF Female Athlete of the Year, respectively.
The outdoor season saw plenty of other awards garnered by the Sun Devil women, including USTFCCCA Women's National, West Region and West District Coach of the Year honors for Greg Kraft; Women's National and West Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors for David Dumble; USTFCCCA Women's West Region and West District Field Athlete of Year honors for Sarah Stevens; the Pac-10 Medal of Honor for Amy Hastings; Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year for Kraft; and Pac-10 Women's Field Athlete of the Year for Stevens. Stevens also was selected as one of three finalists for the Honda Sports Award, given annually to the top athlete in each sport in the NCAA.
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.
Starting in 2006, the Sun Devil women have won three conference titles in a row as they have captured the 2006 and 2007 Pac-10 Championships (outdoor) as well as the 2007 MPSF Championship (indoor). Last year, the men nearly gave Arizona State a sweep of the Pac-10 titles, falling three points short of the championship.
HELLO! MY NAME IS...
A total of 29 (13 women and 16 men) student-athletes are members of the program for the first time this year, including 15 true freshmen (seven women and eight men). Also in the group of newcomers are five women and eight men that transferred into the program with two of those women and six of the men coming from junior and/or community colleges. The final new addition to the program comes via the Sun Devil water polo program as Addison McGrath will participate for both teams this spring.
While the student-athlete roster welcomed 29 newcomers this year, the coaching staff also added a few new additions with a trio of new coaches now on staff. Kenny McDaniel was hired on from Cal State Fullerton and will work with the women's sprints, hurdles and relays following the departure of Dion Miller (Texas Tech). A pair of new graduate assistant coaches are now on staff as Ryan Cole and former Sun Devil NCAA Champion and All-American Victoria Jackson joined the program, replacing the departed Jeremy Rasmussen (Illinois) and Rhonda Riley (Vanderbilt), both of whom attained coaching positions at their respective schools. Both Cole and Jackson will work with the distance, mid-distance and cross country runners throughout the year while also maintaining the day-to-day operations of the program.
Several of those 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).
ALMOST ANOTHER TITLE
While several Sun Devils won national titles at the collegiate level last year, one former Sun Devil nearly captured a U.S. championship of her own recently as Desiree Davila placed second at the 2008 USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston on January 13. Davila, an All-American once in cross country and once in the outdoor 10,000m run, was in seventh place at the eight-mile mark before passing runners to finish second in 1:12.10. Another former Sun Devil, Brianna Torres, also competed in the race, finishing 24th overall (1:17.07).
A pair of former Sun Devils turned in record performances last year on the track with Amy Hastings setting the American collegiate record in the indoor 5,000m run while the outdoor season saw Lisa Galaviz (formerly Aguilera) set the America record in the 3,000m steeplechase. Hastings, a 10-time All-American including three in 2007, ran 15:30.17 at the Husky Classic in Seattle during the indoor season which was the fastest time run by an American collegiate women in NCAA history as Kim Smith of Providence (foreign athlete) holds the NCAA record at 15:14.18. Outdoors, Galaviz traveled to a meet in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, and clocked in at 9:28.75 to set the new standard among American women.
At the end of August, Osaka, Japan, played host to the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics with five athletes with ties to the Arizona State program competing. Current Sun Devil Sarah Stevens placed third at the USA Championships in the shot put to earn a World berth, where she placed 22nd overall. Her teammate, Jessica Pressley, placed fourth in the U.S. meet, missing the World team by one place. On the men's side, Dwight Phillips earned a bronze medal in the long jump after winning the U.S. meet while Trevell Quinley (third at the U.S. meet) was 12th in Osaka. Aaron Aguayo, who placed second at the U.S. meet, finished 20th in the 3,000m steeplechase, while Seth Amoo, who was representing Ghana, advanced to the qualifying rounds of the 200m dash.
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.
IN THE BLOCKS
Next weekend, the Sun Devils will travel to Seattle, Wash., and the University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor Facility to compete in the 2008 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Indoor Championships. The women are the defending conference champions after winning their first indoor crown last year while the men will enter the meet looking to capture their first indoor conference title after placing fifth last year.