Track & field heads to MPSF indoor meet
The championship season gets underway for the Arizona State University track and field program this weekend as the Sun Devils travel to Dempsey Indoor in Seattle, Wash., to compete in the 2010 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Indoor Championships Feb. 27-28. Along with last chance meets next weekend, the MPSF event is one of the last competitions the Sun Devils can use to put themselves into qualifying position for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships that will be held in Fayetteville, Ark., March 12-13. Several athletes with ties to the Sun Devil program also will compete at the 2010 USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday and Sunday.
For those fans unable to attend the meets, both will be providing live updates on their respective web sites. For live stats from the MPSF Championships, visit GoHuskies.com and go to the track & field page. For result updates from the USATF Championships, visit USATF.org.
Meet info: MPSF
Washington will host the annual conference meet at Dempsey Indoor as 10 teams are slated to compete, including Pac-10 teams Arizona State, Arizona, California, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State. Two other schools - CS Northridge and Long Beach State - also will compete in the conference event. Action begins Friday at 12:30 p.m. PT with the men's weight throw and concludes with the 6:55 p.m. start to the women's pentathlon 800m run. Saturday opens at 11 a.m. five events and closes with the women's 4x400m relay starting at 3 p.m.
High ranking: MPSF
Heading into the conference meet, the Sun Devil men hold five of the top marks in the conference in their respective events, including three sprint events and both throws. On the track, Lawrence Trice leads the 60m dash with his time of 6.70 while Donald Sanford has the top time in the 400m dash at 46.85. Sanford, along with Justin Kremer, Allante Battle and Joel Phillip, lead the league in the 4x400m relay with a time of 3:08.19. Ryan Whiting (shot put) and Jason Lewis (weight throw) lead the charge in the throws with tosses of 21.52m (70-07.25) and 21.92m (71-11.00), respectively.
Review: 2009 MPSF
The ASU women scored 78 points and placed third overall and the men scored 76.5 points to take fifth at the 2009 MPSF Indoor Championships in Seattle as both teams won four events. For the women, Charonda Williams swept the short sprints by taking titles in the 60m dash and 200m dash while Sarah Stevens swept the throws with her fourth MPSF shot put crown and her third weight throw title. On the men's side, true freshman Mason McHenry won the 800m run, Ryan Whiting (shot put) and Jason Lewis (weight throw) swept the throws and the 4x400m relay team of Joel Phillip, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Donald Sanford combined to take gold as well.
Meet info: USATF
Three current and four former members of the Sun Devil program will be competing at the USATF Indoor Championships on Saturday and Sunday in Albuquerque, N.M., with most of the entries coming in the field events. Athletes on the current ASU roster that will be competing include Ryan Whiting (shot put), Jason Lewis (shot put & weight) and Anna Jelmini (shot put), who is redshirting this season. The four former Sun Devil women set to compete include Desiree Davila in the 3,000m run, April Kubishta in the pole vault and both Sarah Stevens and Jessica Pressley in the shot put. All athletes will be looking to win national titles and earn places on Team USA for the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships that will be held March 12-14 in Doha, Qatar.
High ranking: USATF
At the USATF event, four individuals are currently ranked in the Top 4 of their respective events. Ryan Whiting currently stands No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 3 in the world; Desiree Davila is ranked No. 3 in the women's 3,000m run; Sarah Stevens is ranked No. 3 in the women's shot put; and Jessica Pressley is ranked No. 4 in the women's shot put. Each athlete entered with ties to the ASU program is currently ranked among the Top 9 in their respective events.
Review: 2009 USATF
Four with ties to the ASU program competed at the 2009 USATF Indoor Championships in Boston with two of those men earning national runner-up finishes. Current Sun Devil Brandon Bethke, who was redshirting the indoor season last year, took second in the 3,000m run while Matt Turner was second in the long jump. Kyle Alcorn, a two-time NCAA Champion for ASU in 2008, took 11th in the 1,500m run while 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist (long jump) Dwight Phillips competed in the 60m dash and placed ninth.
The U.S. Track & Field, Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its latest national rankings on Tuesday with the Sun Devil men remaining in the No. 5 position for the third week in a row while the women are unranked.
In the rankings: MPSF
According to the latest release of the national rankings from the USTFCCCA, five men's team and two women's team in the MPSF are currently ranked in the national Top 25. On the men's side, the nationally ranked teams include No. 2 Oregon, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 14 Stanford, No. 18 Arizona and No. 24 California. The two ranked women's teams are No. 1 Oregon and No. 16 Arizona.
Along with the updated national Top 25, the update regional indexes were released this week with both Sun Devil squads remaining among the Top 6 in the West. On the men's side, Arizona State is ranked No. 2 behind leader Oregon and just ahead of Arizona. In the women's rankings, Oregon, Arizona and Stanford make up the Top 3 with ASU at No. 6.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Thursday the 10 male collegiate track & field athletes named to the official preseason watch list for the 2010 awarding of The Bowerman as selected by The Bowerman Men’s Watch Committee with returning NCAA champion Ryan Whiting earning a spot on that list. The defending champion in both the indoor and outdoor shot put, Whiting is entering his senior year and is on the watch list for an award that will be given to the top male and top female collegiate track & field athlete at the end of the season. (TheBowerman.org)
On the world charts
Two current Sun Devils have marks that not only automatically qualify them for the NCAA Indoor Championships, but also ranks them highly among all competitors in the world. According to the latest world list, Ryan Whiting's toss of 21.52m is the third-best mark recorded in the shot put in the world this year. His fellow throwing teammate, Jason Lewis, currently stands 12th in the world in the weight throw with a toss of 21.92m. Four former Sun Devils also are on the world lists, including Trevell Quinely (13th, long jump, 7.99m) for the men and women's competitors Amy Hastings (18th, 3000m run, 8:58.45), Sarah Stevens (12th, shot put, 17.75m) and Jessica Pressley (17th, shot put, 17.59m).
Speaking of the world lists, the USATF Cross Country Championships were held in Spokane, Wash., on February 13, where former Sun Devil Amy Hastings finished third overall in the women's open race with a time of 26:06. By placing in the Top 7, Hastings qualified to represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 28 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
At the NAU Tune-up (February 19), true freshman Christabel Nettey competed in the long jump and won the event with a leap of 6.38m (20-11.25), hitting the exact mark needed to automatic qualification into the NCAA Indoor Championships. Nettey, who ranks fourth all-time in ASU history and currently stands fifth in the NCAA, is so far the only Sun Devil woman to automatically qualify for the national championships in March.
While Nettey is the lone Sun Devil woman with an NCAA automatic qualifying mark, she is not alone in the ASU program as three men have already punched their tickets to the national meet. On the track, Brandon Bethke currently ranks sixth overall in the men's 3,000m run after running 7:54.27 to automatically qualify at the Husky Classic in Seattle two weeks ago. In the field, Ryan Whiting holds a national-leading and automatic qualifying mark of 21.52m in the shot put while Jason Lewis ranks fourth in the weight throw at 21.92m.
Looking at the national descending order list for the women's long jump, there are only two freshmen on the list so far this season with both competing for the Sun Devils. Christabel Nettey's jump of 6.38m at the NAU Tune-up makes her the only freshman to automatically qualify for the NCAA meet while fellow rookie Constance Ezugha currently stands 14th overall with a mark of 6.26m. Traditionally, the NCAA takes the Top 16 to the national meet in each event, meaning the Sun Devils could have a pair of freshmen competing at the NCAA Championships in the long jump in two weeks.
Work to do
Along with Ezugha, several other Sun Devils hold marks that place them right around the cut-off for the national meet and have just two weeks to try and improve their standings to earn berths to the NCAA Championships. The men have six marks that rank between No. 12 and No. 20 currently while the women have two between No. 14 and No. 23. Those marks include Lawrence Trice in the 60m dash (17th), Donald Sanford in the 400m dash (16th), Justin Kremer in the 400m dash (20th), Mason McHenry in the 800m run (12th), the men's 4x400m relay (13th) and Jordan Clarke in the shot put (15th) for the men and women's entries Jasmine Chaney in the 400m dash (23rd) and Ezugha in the long jump (14th).
On the current national descending order lists, the Sun Devil men have a handful of individuals ranked among the Top 15 nationally with three men holding that distinction in the same event as Ryan Whiting, Jason Lewis and Jordan Clarke are all ranked highly in the shot put. Whiting is the current national leader at 21.52m (70-03.00) while Lewis stands ninth with a mark of 18.87m (61-1.00) and Clarke, a redshirt freshman, is 15th at 18.54m (60-10.00).
One of two
The shot put trio currently makes Arizona State one of just two schools to have three men provisionally qualified in the event with Texas being the other. The distinction that the Sun Devil men hold is that all three of their qualifiers currently hold marks in the Top 16, which is the customary cut-off number for qualifiers to the national indoor meet (Top 16). ASU's athletes stand first, ninth and 15th while Texas is sixth, ninth and 19th.
On February 13, several distance runners traveled north to Seattle to compete in the Husky Classic with one time recorded standing out among the others. In the invitational section of the men's 3,000m run, senior Brandon Bethke ran the sixth-fastest time in the nation this year as he clocked in at 7:54.27 to finish sixth overall in the race. His time also broke the 19 year-old school record that Todd Lewis established in 1991 when he ran 7:54.31, just 0.04 seconds slower than Bethke's time.
At the NAU Team Challenge (Feb. 5), Jasmine Chaney entered the 400m dash and blazed a huge personal best indoor mark as she won the event with a time of 53.89 to earn provisional qualifying status for the NCAA Indoor Championships. A national qualifier in the hurdle events outdoors, Chaney recorded the sixth-best time in school history with her run.
At the season-opening meet - the Friday Night Challenge - the Sun Devils turned in several strong performances, but perhaps none better than Lawrence Trice in the 60m dash as the senior won the race with a time of 6.66 (converted to 6.70 for altitude). His time, which he has since equalled in another meet in Flagstaff, also ranks as the fourth-fastest in school history and is the first mark added to the ASU list since Seth Amoo clocked in at 6.72 in 2005.
A pair of Sun Devil men are back for their seniors seasons with both carrying the distinction of defending national champion after winning a throwing event last year. Ryan Whiting returns and will look to become a three-time champion in the indoor shot put after winning the past two titles while also adding the 2009 outdoor crown to give him a sweep of the event last year. Also returning is Jason Lewis, who hit a personal-best and school-record mark of 75-00.75 last year to win the weight throw for his first title and All-America honor.
More on Whitting
With a victory in the shot put at the 2010 NCAA Championships, Whiting would become just the third man to win the shot put three years in a row and the first since Hans Hogland (UTEP) did so in 1973-1974-1975. He also would become only the fourth to win the event three or more times in a career and first to do so since Michael Carter (SMU) won crowns in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984.
More on Lewis
Lewis not only will look to defend his national title this year, but also continue a recent streak of success in the event that was started in 2005. That year, Spyridon Jullien (Virginia Tech) won the title and then again in 2006. Following that, Egor Agafonov (Kansas) won the next two titles in a row (2007, 2008) before Lewis won last year.
Returning All-Americans: Men
Last year, three men earned All-America honors from the USTFCCCA, including both returning national champions and one true freshman. Jason Lewis collected the first honors of his career by winning the weight throw and taking fourth in the shot put while Whiting added another All-America honor by winning the shot put. Lewis (discus & hammer) and Whiting (shot put & discus) also earned a pair of accolades during the outdoor season. Rookie Mason McHenry ran in the 800m event and earned All-America honors as well.
More All-Americans: Men
Four other men also return that have earned All-America honors in recent years, including Brandon Bethke, who earned national honors at the 2009 NCAA outdoor meet in the 5,000m run before taking seventh overall this past fall at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The three other returning All-Americans earned their honors during the 2008 season: Nectaly Barbosa was an All-American outdoors in the 800m and on the indoor distance medley relay team; Justin Kremer was a member of two indoor All-American relays, including the 4x400m and the DMR; and Joel Phillip earned honors in the indoor and outdoor 400m dash along with the indoor 4x400m relay.
Returning All-Americans: Women
Five women earned All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships one year ago with just one athlete, Dominique' Maloy, returning this season. Maloy was a member of the 4x400m relay team that finished second in the nation. She also was a member of the All-American 4x100m and 4x400m relays outdoors while adding an individual honor in the outdoor 200m dash.
More All-Americans: Women
Three women return this year that earned All-America honors during the 2009 outdoor season, including two that were freshmen. Jasmine Chaney is back after helping the 4x100m and 4x400m relays to All-America status last year while Kayla Sanchez, a member of that same 4x100m relay, also is back. In the field Cj Navarro is back after placing eighth in the discus in her first national meet appearance last spring. Two distance runners also return this winter after earning All-America honors in cross country during their careers, including 2007 honoree Ali Kielty and 2008 honoree Kari Hardt.
Back for more
Speaking of returning, head coach Greg Kraft is back to lead the way for the 14th year in a row and will look to guide the Sun Devils back to the top of the podium at the NCAA Championships as his squads did in 2007 (women's indoor and women's outdoor) and 2008 (men's and women's indoor). Since taking over the program in 1996, Kraft has built Arizona State into one of the top all-around programs in the nation. Among the coaches that have led the program, his tenure with the Sun Devil men is surpassed only by the 17 years of service legendary coach Senon 'Baldy' Castillo put in (1954-79 and 1985) while his 14 years leading the women's program is the longest in ASU history (Anne Pittman, 1958-67).
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This year's roster features over 90 student-athletes with several newcomers joining the program. The Sun Devils have added 29 newcomers this season, including 16 women and 13 men while 24 women return and 41 men return from last year.
New to the staff
The coaching staff also has two newcomers this year with the additions of Ronnie Williams and Isley Gonzalez. Williams was brought in to work with the men's sprinters while Gonzalez helped with the cross country team and will continue on during the track and field season with the mid-distance/distance runners as the program's graduate assistant.
Next time out
The Sun Devils are slated to compete in one of several 'last chance' meets that will be held throughout the nation on Friday and Saturday, depending upon if athletes need to improve their marks to earn berths into the national championship meet. From there, those Sun Devils that qualify for the NCAA meet will compete in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 12-13.