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Track & field heads to NCAA Championships

June 09, 2009

The final collegiate meet of the 2009 season awaits the Arizona State University track and field program this week as the Sun Devils are set to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark., on the Arkansas campus. In recent years, the Sun Devils have won national titles on the indoor surface in Arkansas and will this time challenge for gold on the outdoor surface of John McDonnell Field.

As with each national meet the Sun Devils have competed, the stakes will be high this week as individual and team national titles will be on the line, as will All-America honors. The Top 8 finishers in each event (relays included) will earn the distinction of All-American.

The Sun Devils are no strangers to succeeding in a national meet hosted by Arkansas. In fact, the last time an NCAA Championship was held in Fayetteville, Ark., was during the 2008 indoor season. That year, the Sun Devils made history by sweeping the team titles with the women repeating as national indoor champions and the men capturing their first crown indoors and second all-time (ASU won the 1977 outdoor title for their first crown). The first title won by the women also came in Arkansas at the 2007 indoor meet.

Heading into the final week of action in the collegiate season, the Sun Devils remained in the national Top 10 rankings provided by the USTFCCCA (June 8). The women moved up two positions to No. 4 with Texas A&M, Oregon and LSU ahead of the Sun Devils in the Top 3. The men slipped one spot to No. 10 with Texas A&M, Oregon and Florida ranked 1-2-3.

There will be several ways to catch the action of the NCAA Championships for those fans that cannot attend the meet, including television, live streaming and live results. Throughout the entire championship,, and will have live result updates on their web sites while also will offer live streaming video of the meet on its site. On Friday night (6-9 p.m. CST), CBS College Sports will broadcast live action with parent station CBS bringing live action on Saturday afternoon (12-2 p.m. CST). Ian Eagle, Ato Boldon, Carol Lewis and Dwight Stones will serve as the on-air talent for the television broadcasts.

A pair of Sun Devil women were recently selected for regional awards as the USTFCCCA announced recipients on Monday. Sarah Stevens was named the Women's West Region Field Athlete of the Year for the second time in her career (2007) while Charonda Williams was selected as the Women's West Region Track Athlete of the Year. Both women are now eligible for national honors that will be announced following the NCAA meet.

Academic honors were also announced last week with Sarah Stevens leading the way with two top honors. First, Stevens was named as the Pac-10 Women's Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year presented by Toyo Tires, the highest academic honor available from the Conference. Later in the week, Stevens was one of five Sun Devils to garner ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honors. Stevens was the lone ASU female to earn First Team honors while fellow throwers Jason Lewis and Ryan Whiting earned First Team honors for the men. All three are now eligible for Academic All-America honors. Joining the trio on the academic lists were a pair of Second Team honorees in Ali Kielty for the women and Ben Engelhardt for the men. Both earned their first honors from CoSIDA.

The Pac-10 Conference also announced its annual Academic All-Pac-10 honors recently with 21 members of the Sun Devil program garnering distinction from the league. Sarah Stevens was the lone woman to earn first team accolades from the Pac-10 while five men, including Ben Engelhardt, Jeff Helwig, Justin Kremer, Jason Lewis and Thomas Petersen, each earned first team distinction. Five others earned second team honors, including four women (Cj Navarro, Lissa Regets, Angela Spadafino, Maureen Stringham) and one man (Ryan Whiting). The remaining student-athletes on the list earned honorable mention accolades as all were academically sophomores and carried a 3.20 GPA or better.

Heading into the NCAA Championships, not only is Arizona State the only school that has one person competing in the three weight events -- the shot put, discus and hammer -- it is the only school with two athletes to do so as both Sarah Stevens and Jason Lewis have qualified in all three. Stevens, who earned All-America honors in all three last year, is the only person to automatically qualify in all three events as she won the shot put and discus and took second in the hammer at the NCAA West Region meet while Lewis was an automatic qualifier in two events (shot put and discus) and was an at-large selection in the hammer (seventh in the region).

Speaking of Sarah Stevens, the senior standout is the lone returning national champion for the Sun Devils as she will look to defend the discus title she won last year in Des Moines, Iowa. In that meet, Stevens threw 184-02 to win her first discus title as she edged-out teammate Tai Battle, who took second with a toss of 182-08.

Seven Sun Devils will return to the national meet this week after competing in the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Ryan Whiting is the lone man returning from last year where he was a two-time All-American by finishing second in the shot put and ninth in the discus. On the women's side, Sarah Stevens is back to compete in all three throws once again (shot put, discus, hammer); Charonda Williams will triple as well (100m, 200m, 4x100m); Ali Kielty will once again run in the final of the 10,000m run; Dominique' Maloy will run in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m and possibly the 4x400m after running in just the 200m and both relays last year as a freshman; and both Shauntel Elcock and Jeavon Benjamin are returning to compete in the 4x400m relay that placed fifth in 2008.

Stevens, the program's all-time leader with 12 career All-America honors, will look to repeat her success from last year when she won the discus, was third in the hammer and took sixth in the shot put at the 2008 meet. Heading into this week's championships, Stevens is ranked among the Top 5 nationally in all three events, including second in the shot put (18.00m), third in the discus (57.21m) and fifth in the hammer (64.97m).

The only man to qualify in all three events, Lewis will have his work cut out for him this week as he ranks in the Top 14 in all three events and will look to move into the Top 8 to earn All-America honors. The 2009 NCAA Indoor Weight Throw Champion, Lewis enters the meet ranked seventh in the hammer (68.15m), 11th in the discus (58.62m) and 14th in the shot put (18.55m).

Charonda Williams, the 2009 USTFCCCA Women's West Region Track Athlete of the Year, has had a stellar season and her school-record times in the 100m and 200m events exhibit her improvements from last year. Entering the season with personal-best times of 11.41 and 23.09, Williams has run 11.14 and 22.82, breaking 26 and 18 year-old records in the process. In the 100m, Williams' progression was quite impressive this year as she competed at the Mt. SAC Relays and set the school mark with her time of 11.29. Then, one month later at the Pac-10 Championships, she again lowered the school record on two occasions, first running 11.26 in the preliminary round before going lower to 11.14 to win the title.

The only woman in the history of the Pac-10 Conference to win the 100m and 200m events at the Conference meet in back-to-back years, Charonda Williams enters the NCAA meet this week as one of only two women in the Top 8 nationally that won both races at the regional meet, joining Murielle Ahoure (Miami) in that distinction. Williams also is one of six women that have qualified in both races and rank in the Top 8 nationally as the senior Sun Devil stands sixth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m.

At the NCAA Championships, Arizona State will be one of five schools that was able to qualify all four of its relays (4x100m and 4x400m on both the men's and women's sides) to compete, joining Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and USC on the list. The ASU women are one of eight schools that qualified both of their relays while the men are one of 10 schools to accomplish the feat.

As many as five freshmen, including four true freshmen, could compete this week for the Sun Devils at the national meet with two earning automatic berths in individual events. For the women, redshirt freshman Cj Navarro automatically qualified in the discus while Kayla SanchezAllante Battle automatically qualified in the 100m and 200m events while John Kline and Mason McHenry could see action as members of the 4x400m relay. helped the 4x100m relay into the national meet. On the men's side,

As a true freshman, Allante Battle has had quite a rookie campaign for the Sun Devils and will look to build on that this week as he is one of only two freshmen to gain entry into both the 100m and 200m events. Battle, unlike Oklahoma's Mookie Salaam, earned a berth into the national meet by automatically qualifying in both races, taking second in the 200m and fourth in the 100m dash as the NCAA West Region.

In just her first season of competing for the Sun Devils, Cj Navarro has advanced to the NCAA Championships where she will take part in the discus. An automatic qualifier in the event by placing third in the NCAA West Region meet, Navarro currently ranks 17th on the national list heading into the Championships.

For the third year in a row, the Sun Devil women won the NCAA West Region title, this time scoring 95 points to outdistance runner-up Oregon's 80.5 points. In the three-year span, the Sun Devil women scored 94 points (2007), 114 points (2008) and 95 points (2009) en route to winning the three crowns.

With the strength of her record run of 11.14, Charonda Williams not only reset the school record in the 100m dash twice, she also made Pac-10 history by doubling as a double winner. Williams entered the meet as the defending 100m and 200m champion after claiming the titles at the 2008 meet in Tempe. At the 2009 meet, Williams easily won both sprints to become the first woman in conference history to repeat the short-sprint sweep and joining USC's Torri Edwards (1996, 1999) as the only women to win both events in two meets in a career. Williams won the 200m in 23.05.

SIX + 100
Williams was not the only Sun Devil woman that had an impressive meet at the Pac-10 Championships as Sarah Stevens concluded her career with over 100 points scored in the event while adding titles No. 5 and No. 6 to her career haul. Stevens, the top-ranked entrant in the shot put and discus, lived up to her ranking as she easily won both events, throwing 17.32m to take the shot put before coming back to win the discus with a toss of 57.21m. With those wins, Stevens won the shot put for the third time in her career (2006, 2007, 2009) and the discus for the second time (2007, 2009) to go along with her 2008 hammer title. After taking second in the hammer this year, Stevens scored 28 points to give her 101 for her career and was named the Pac-10 Female Athlete of the Meet.

Stevens and Williams were not the only Pac-10 champions crowned in Eugene two weeks ago. On the men's side, Ryan Whiting won his first conference crown in the shot put with a winning toss of 20.37m that came on his final throw of the competition. Brandon Bethke won his first Pac-10 title as he was crowned the winner in the 5,000m run after holding a late charge to cross the finish line just 0.06 ahead of second place (13:52.73). The final championship crown came from the women's 4x100m relay as Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock, Jasmine Chaney and Williams ran 44.10 for the victory.

In his first Pac-10 Championships, Brandon Bethke scored 12 points for the team as he won the 5,000m run and took seventh in the 1,500m run on the same day. Bethke, who competed at Wisconsin as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to ASU, won the 5,000m event for the second time at the conference level, adding the 2009 Pac-10 outdoor to his 2008 Big Ten indoor crown. Bethke, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 5,000m run this year (13:27.79), also won the 2007 Big Ten 3,000m steeplechase and the 2008 Big Ten indoor 3,000m run titles.

At the Pac-10 Championships, 11 Sun Devil freshmen made their debuts with two women and three men scoring points toward the team totals. For the women, redshirt freshman Cj Navarro took third in the discus with a personal-best toss of 169-03 while Kayla Sanchez was seventh in the 400m hurdles at 1:00.55. On the men's side, Allante Battle took third in the 100m (10.49), fourth in the 200m (21.32) and helped both relays to Top 4 finishes, including the 4x100m in third (40.32) and the 4x400m in fourth (3:09.96). John Kline also was a part of the 4x400m relay while Marc Peck was seventh in the javelin (208-07). Cara Carpenter was close to scoring for the women as she tied for ninth (Top 8 positions score at the Conference meet).

The Sun Devil women took third place overall and the men were sixth as the 2009 Pac-10 Championships came to a close on Sunday, May 17, in Eugene. Host Oregon swept the team titles with the women winning with 165.5 points and the men with 158. In the women's standings, Stanford took second (138) while the Sun Devils were third (112), USC (108) was fourth and UCLA (79.5) was fifth. On the men's side, USC was second (117) with Stanford (93), Washington State (91), UCLA (90) and ASU (87) rounding a closely-bunched race for the Top 5.

On the latest world lists, two current Sun Devils (one man and one female) are currently among the Top 20 internationally in their respective events. For the women, Charonda Williams is ranked in the 100m (11.14) and 200m (22.82) as she stands 15th (tie) and 17th (tie), respectively. Ryan Whiting currently stands seventh in the shot put at 20.99m.

Six former Sun Devil competitors also find their names on the world Top 20 list, including Dwight Phillips, who is the world leader in the long jump at 8.74m while also standing 13th (tie) in the 100m dash at 10.06. Fasil Bizuneh is the other man on the list, sitting 20th in the 10,000m run (28:00.22). For the women, Jacquelyn Johnson is 12th in the heptathlon (6,020), Lisa Galaviz is 15th in the steeplechase (9:40.02), Desiree Davila is 17th in the 10,000m (32:25.78) and Latosha Wallace is 20th in the 400m hurdles (56.02).

It was announced by USA Track & Field that former Sun Devil Desiree Davila will represent the U.S. at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics as a member of the women's marathon team. Davila, who was selected after competing in the Chicago Marathon and was the top American finisher by crossing the line fifth overall in 2:31:33, will travel with the U.S. squad to Berlin, Germany, and run the race on August 23.

On April 20, former Sun Devil and Los Angeles Times reporter Julie Cart was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting as she and fellow writer Bettina Boxall reported in a series about how brush fires in the Los Angeles area are fought. A graduate from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Cart competed in the discus for the Sun Devils and still holds the ninth-best mark in program history at 52.04m (170-09) which she recorded during the 1980 season.

Dan O'Brien, a volunteer assistant coach with the Sun Devils, is used to holding a world record as he once did in the decathlon. Now, the American record-holder in the decathlon has another world record to brag about as he rewrote the Guinness Book of World Records in the hopscotch. You did not read that wrong... the hopscotch. On May 14, O'Brien was in New York City where the 1996 Olympic champion flew through a game of hopscotch in 1:23, breaking the previous mark by two seconds. O'Brien was on hand to also encourage children to remain active.

On April 28, Sarah Stevens was named as one of 29 women selected for the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, a one-time, non-renewing $7,500 scholarship that is given annually to scholar-athletes that have excelled academically and athletically and are completing their senior seasons. Stevens, the lone woman from the Pac-10 to be honored with the scholarship among winter sports, is a two-time NCAA champion and 12-time All-American while also having earned numerous academic honors, including twice being named the USTFCCCA Women's Division I Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year (indoor 2007, outdoor 2008).

Along with her two records set outdoors, Williams also is the indoor record holder in the 60m (7.30) and 200m (22.89). She also has helped several relays move up the rankings this year, including the 4x100m that ran 43.92 to move into second all-time at ASU and become only the second team to run a sub-44 in the event. Indoors, she helped the 4x400m relay clock the fourth-best time of 3:34.30 at the NCAA Championships where the team placed second overall in the meet.

Jasmine Chaney also had a fine weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays (April 16-18) as she a part of four regional qualifying marks, including both relays and both hurdles. In the hurdles, however, Chaney improved her personal best times while also winning both events. First up, Chaney ran in the 400m hurdles and won with a time of 58.57 to move into the No. 6 position on the all-time ASU list while also becoming only the seventh woman to run a sub-59 in the event. One day later, she competed in the 100m hurdles and won with a time of 13.61, improving on the No. 9 time in program history. She also helped the 4x100m (44.17) and the 4x400m (3:37.10) to regional qualifying marks.

On March 13-14, the 2009 indoor season came to a close for the Sun Devils as eight members of the team traveled to College Station, Texas, for the NCAA Indoor Championships and returned to Tempe with a pair of fifth-place team finishes and 12 total All-America honors. Jason LewisRyan Whiting (shot put) each won national titles to pace the three men while Charonda Williams earned All-America honors in three events to lead the five women at the meet. (weight throw) and

All three men and all five women that competed in the NCAA Indoor Championships over the weekend earned All-America honors with three athletes earning multiple awards. Jason Lewis was the lone man to earn multiple honors as he finished first in the weight throw and fourth in the shot put while Sarah Stevens earned honors in the same women's events with finishes of fourth and second, respectively. Charonda Williams led the way, though, as she was an individual All-American in the 60m dash (sixth) and 200m dash (third) before joining Dominique' Maloy, Shauntel Elcock and Jeavon Benjamin to place second in the 4x400m relay. The final All-American was true freshman Mason McHenry in the men's 800m run, where he placed ninth overall and was the eighth American to finish.

Ryan Whiting broke his own facility record to win the shot put and successfully defend the crown he won last year as he recorded a winning mark of 20.16m (66-10.75) to take the shot put by almost three feet. With his back-to-back crowns in the event, Whiting became the ninth man in NCAA indoor history to win the shot put twice in a career and became the first back-to-back winner since Carl Myerscough of Nebraska in 2002-03.

The Arizona State throws program made a big name for itself once again at the national meet as Assistant Coach David Dumble's three throwers combined for two national titles, one national runner-up and five All-America honors in the only two throwing events available. Along with the three Top 3 placements, the other two finishes remained among the Top 4 as well. On the men's side, the 25 points earned tied the team for fifth-place, just four points shy of finishing tied for fourth and earning a trophy.

Charonda Williams had an outstanding meet for the Sun Devil women at the NCAA Indoor Championships as the sprint standout earned three All-America honors while recording two school records as well. Last year, Williams qualified only in the 200m dash and did not advance out of the preliminary round. This year, she was the eighth qualifier for the national meet and advanced to the final with the sixth-best time in the field at a then-school record 23.23. In the finals later that night, she crushed that time down to 22.89, the fourth-best in the world this year, to take third overall. Then, in the finals of the 60m dash, she advanced to the finals with the sixth-best time of 7.30 (school record) after entering the meet ranked 12th. In the finals, she finished sixth to earn her second All-America honor. In the final event of the meet, she ran the second leg of the 4x400m relay, helping the team to a time of 3:34.30 to finish as the national runners-up.

In her previous six trips to the NCAA Championships (three indoor and three outdoor), Sarah Stevens had collected one indoor shot put crown, one outdoor discus crown and a school record-tying 10 career All-America honors. Over the weekend, Stevens competed in both throws and took national runner-up honors in the shot put for the second year in a row one day after taking fourth in the weight throw to give her a school record 11th and 12th All-America honor. And, to top all of that, she accepted a marriage proposal at the end of the meet from her boyfriend, Ross.

The NCAA Championships mark the conclusion of the 2009 collegiate season. Several Sun Devils will return to Eugene, Ore., at the end of June to compete in the USA Track & Field Championships with chances to represent Team USA on the line, including spots on the roster for the 2009 World Championships in Germany (September).