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Track & field returns to Flagstaff for Mountain 'T' invite

January 28, 2009

The Arizona State University track and field team will return to Flagstaff, Ariz., this weekend to compete in the Mountain 'T' Multi-Events and Invitational on Friday and Saturday inside the Walkup Skydome on the Northern Arizona campus. The men's heptathlon competitors will compete on Friday and Saturday with the remaining Sun Devils competing on Saturday.

The Mountain 'T' meet will feature athletes from Arizona State, Concordia (Calif.), CS Bakersfield, CS Fullerton, CS Dominguez Hills, Florida Atlantic, Long Beach State, Mesa CC, host Northern Arizona, San Diego State and UNLV as well as several unattached teams. Overall, the Sun Devils will send 39 competitors to the meet, including 24 men and 15 women. Three men and one woman that are currently on the ASU roster will compete as unattached entries while redshirting this season.

The current edition of the Sun Devils will not be the only competitors in the field as four former standouts have entered the meet as unattached individuals. Olympic Gold Medalist Nick Hysong is entered in the pole vault and national runner-up Matt Turner will compete in the long jump for the men while two-time NCAA shot put champion Jessica Pressley will compete in the shot put and outdoor national champion April Kubishta will compete in the pole vault for the women.

To say Jason Lewis had a stellar opening weekend would be quite an understatement as the junior recorded personal best indoor marks in both the weight throw and the shot put at the Friday Night Challenge in Flagstaff last Friday. Lewis, who entered the meet as the school's record-holder in the weight throw at 20.94m (68-08.50), broke the record by over 3.5 feet as he hit an NCAA automatic-qualifying mark of 22.04m (73-02.75) to win the event. He also recorded a toss of 18.23m in the shot put, improving from his previous best of 18.01m.

With that toss of 22.04m in the weight throw, Jason Lewis automatically qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in March and is currently one of only three automatic entrants. His mark is tied for the second-best in the nation and is one of only three to break to the 22-meter barrier so far this season.

Lewis' mark in the shot put provisionally qualified him for the NCAA Championships and was one of four provisional marks earned by the Sun Devils. Women's sprinter Charonda Williams, the 100m and 200m Pac-10 Champion in 2008, qualified in the 60m and 200m dash events with times of 7.41 and 23.81, respectively, for the only women's qualifiers while transfer Donald Sanford clocked a time fo 47.15 to qualify in the 400m dash.

Those qualifiers are all ranked among the Top 10 nationally on current NCAA order lists. For the women, Charonda Williams' times of 7.41 in the 60m and 23.81 in the 200m rank as the tied for ninth and tied for seventh best times in the nation, respectively, while Donald Sanford's time of 47.15 in the men's 400m dash ties him for seventh. Jason Lewis is currently tied for second in the weight throw at 22.04m and eighth overall in the shot put at 18.23m.

The USTFCCCA released the latest set of national rankings (January 28) with the Sun Devils remaining among the Top 10 this week. The men remained at No. 2 while the women slipped two spots to No. 8 in the rankings that are based upon points earned for where athletes' mark rank nationally. Arkansas leads the men's rankings with ASU, Florida, Oregon and Texas A&M rounding out the Top 5 while the women's Top 5 is comprised of Texas A&M, Tennessee, Michigan, LSU and Florida State.

At the season-opening meet for the Sun Devils, the Friday Night Challenge, Arizona State athletes won 15 of the contested events and added 15 more Top 3 placements. For the women, winners included: Charonda Williams in the 60m (7.41) and 200m (23.81); Dominique' Maloy in the 400m (55.84); Kauren Tarver in the 800m (2:21.97); the women's 4x400m relay of Jeavon Benjamin, Shauntel Elcock, Maloy and Kayla SanchezCara Carpenter in the pole vault (3.81m); and Stephanie Garnett in the long jump (6.05m). The men's winners were: Marcus DuncanCalvin Abram in the 200m (21.65); Donald Sanford in the 400m (47.15); the 4x400m relay of Joel Phillip, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Sanford (3:13.63); Corey Phallen in the pole vault (4.90m); Jeremy Egboro in the triple jump (14.77m); and Jason Lewis in the weight throw (22.04m) and shot put (18.23m). (3:50.22); in the 60m (6.82);

Several sweeps were recorded on the track for the Sun Devils, including the men finishing first-second-third in three individual sprints: 60m, 200m and 400m. Combined with the women, Arizona State won the men's and women's 60m dash, the 200m dash, the 400m dash and the 4x400m relay. In the field, ASU swept one event by winning the pole vault.

Along with Jason Lewis' record mark in the weight throw, two other marks recorded by Sun Devils in Flagstaff rank among the Top 5 all-time in program history with both coming from the women. Charonda Williams lowered her personal-best time in the 60m dash from 7.42 to 7.41 to remain at No. 3 on the list while freshman Cara Carpenter had a strong first meet by clearing a winning height of 3.81m (12-06.00) to record the fifth-best mark in the indoor pole vault at ASU.

A total of 19 different athletes competed for Arizona State for the first time at the Friday Night Challenge, including 11 men and eight women. Among those athletes were 10 true freshman (six women and four men) and six transfers (one woman and five men). Several of those debuts were quite solid, including true freshman Cara Carpenter winning the women's pole vault and true freshman Kauren Tarver winning the women's 800m run. Four rookie men kept themselves busy in their first meets for the Sun Devils as multi-event freshmen Duggan Grant (five events), Jamie Sandys (four) and Austin Prince (four) prepared for their first heptathlon this weekend, as did redshirt freshman Alexander Wentz (four events).

In 2008, both track & field and cross country, has seen its student-athletes earn academic honors, both in the conference and nationally. Following the most recent cross country season, Jenna Kingma was selected as the Toyo Tires Pac-10 Student-Athlete of the Year for Women's Cross Country to become the latest highly regarded honoree. Last year, April Kubishta was named the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year for women's track & field after Ryan Whiting (indoor) and Sarah Stevens (outdoor) were selected as the 2008 USTFCCCA Men's Field Scholar-Athlete and Women's Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

While the current edition of the Sun Devils get set to open their season this weekend, several former distance runners recently competed in one of two prestigious races on Sunday, one of which was a national champion. In Houston at the U.S. Half-Marathon Championships, four former Devils competed, including Fasil Bizuneh, who placed sixth in the men's race in 1:02.40, and Desiree Davila, who was fourth overall in the women's race at 1:12.24. Alvina Begay took 17th in 1:15.39 while Amy Hastings was 24th in 1:17.13. Back in the Valley, a pair of women competed in the P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll Marathon, including current graduate assistant coach Jenna Wrieden, who was ninth among women in 2:50.45, and Cassie Bando (formerly Rios), who took 11th among women in 2:51.58. They were two of 2,972 women to finish the 26.2 mile race.

Arizona State enters the indoor season as the defending national champions as both the men and the women captured titles at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. (March 14-15). The women scored 51 points to win their second crown in a row as LSU took second with 43 points. The men, who won their first indoor crown in program history, edged top-ranked Florida State, 44-41, for the title.

The Sun Devil sweep in Arkansas last March was just the second time in NCAA indoor championship history that the same school won both crowns. The only other school to do so was LSU in 2004. If ASU can win at least one title this indoor season, it will fare better than LSU as the 2005 titles went to Arkansas (men) and Tennessee (women).

Arizona State's women are the two-time defending champions after claiming crowns in the 2007 and 2008 meets. One of only five schools to win back-to-back indoor titles, the Sun Devil women are position to become only the second school to win three in a row or more following LSU's five in a row streak (1993-97) and another three in a row (2002-04) by the Tigers. The only other schools to have won back-to-back crowns were Nebraska (1983-84), Texas (1998-99) and UCLA (2000-01).

Heading into the indoor season, the men will look to defend their crown and, if successful, would become just the fourth school to win back-to-back titles, joining Kansas, UTEP (twice) and Arkansas (three times). The last time the men's champion won in back-to-back years was in 2005 and 2006 when host Arkansas won.

During the 2008 seasons, the Sun Devils combined to win six team championships with four from the women and two from the men. The women won a pair of conference championships, claiming the MPSF (indoor) and Pac-10 (outdoor) while also winning the NCAA Indoor Championships and NCAA Outdoor West Region. The men also won NCAA Indoor Championships and the NCAA Outdoor West Region, their first in both meets.

Last year, Arizona State athletes won seven individual national titles, including three indoors and four outdoors. Of those titles, only two return this year, including Ryan Whiting, the defending indoor shot put champion, and Sarah Stevens, the defending outdoor discus champion. Whiting won his first national title with a heave of 21.53m (71-03.50) to set the NCAA meet and Pac-10 indoor records. Stevens, who won the indoor shot put in 2007, captured her first outdoor title in the discus on her second-to-last throw (184-02) to edge teammate Tai Battle for the crown.

Three Sun Devils that won a combined five national titles last year are not back after graduating from ASU and exhausting their eligibility. Those athletes include 2008 U.S. Olympian Jacquelyn Johnson, Jessica Pressley and Kyle Alcorn. Johnson won her third indoor pentathlon crown with an NCAA indoor and NCAA meet record score of 4,496 points before winning her fourth outdoor heptathlon title. Pressley successfully defended her outdoor shot put crown while also earning All-America honors in the hammer and discus in the same meet. Alcorn was a vital player in the Sun Devil men's success as he won the indoor 3,000m run as the 14th-seeded runner and then captured the outdoor steeplechase.

Prior to finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field and earning a berth in the Beijing Olympics, Jacquelyn Johnson made history in the heptathlon at the NCAA meet as she became the first four-time champion in the event and only the fourth woman in NCAA history to capture the same event four times in a career. The Pac-10 and Arizona State record holder, the senior from Yuma, Ariz., joined the company of four-time champions Suzy Favor of Wisconsin in the 1,5000m run (1987-88-89-90), Seilala Sua of UCLA in the discus (1997-98-99-00) and Angela Williams of USC in the 100m dash (99-00-01-02).

In her specialty event (multi-events), Jacquelyn Johnson was a seven-time national champion, winning three indoor pentathlons and four outdoor heptathlons. The only non-first-place finish in the pentathlon came in 2004 when Johnson, a true freshman, finished second overall at the national meet to senior Hyleas Fountain.

Three marks recorded at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships by the Sun Devils found a place on the all-time world rankings. Ryan Whiting's toss of 21.53m (71-03.50) in the shot put ranks as the 33rd-best throw in the history of the indoor event. Those 33 marks were recorded by 13 different men with Whiting ranking 13th overall in the world and eighth among men from the United States.

Jacquelyn Johnson also appears on the all-time world rankings list with her 4,496 point-performance in the pentathlon at the NCAA Championships in 2008. Although that score ranks as the 96th-best (tie) all-time in the world, it ranks as the third-best among American women. The scores ahead of Johnson came from DeDee Nathan (4,753 in 1999) and Kym Carter (4,696 in 1995).

The distance medley relay team of Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Nectaly Barbosa and Kyle Alcorn ran a school-record 9:32.49 and finished as the national runners-up. That time, which ranks 29th all-time on the world lists, sparked the Sun Devil men to the national title.

There are 15 athletes returning for the Sun Devils this year that have earned All-America honors in their ASU careers, including nine women and six men. Those women include Jeavon Benjamin, Shauntel Elcock, Stephanie Garnett, Kari Hardt, Ali Kielty, Jenna Kingma, Dominique' Maloy, Sarah Stevens and Charonda Williams with the men's group comprised of Nectaly Barbosa, Darryl Elston, Joey Heller, Justin Kremer, Joel PhillipRyan Whiting. and

The 2009 Sun Devil rosters are made up of 96 student-athletes. There are 52 men and 44 women that will compete for the Sun Devils, including 25 men and 23 women that are returning from last year.

Of those 96 athletes on the roster this spring, 48 are new to the program, including 27 men and 21 women. Thirty of the 48 newcomers are freshmen, including 14 women and 16 men that are entering their first collegiate seasons after high school graduation.

Last year, six members of the program were honored with academic accolades from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) as three men and three women were named to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII teams. For the men, Justin Kremer and Ryan Whiting both earned first team honors while Jason Lewis was a second team selection. The women saw April Kubishta and Sarah StevensAli Kielty was a second-team honoree. each earned first team honors while

Arizona State's women became only the second team in Pac-10 history to win the conference crown three times in a row as the Sun Devils scored 186.5 points, the second-highest total in conference history (189.5 is the record). UCLA, which leads the league with 15 overall titles, had win streak of eight, four and three with the only other program to win multiple titles being Oregon, which won twice in a row. The Sun Devils' three titles also stands as the second-most in Pac-10 history.

For the second year in a row, the Sun Devil men came up short in the team standings as Oregon walked away with the title. The Ducks scored 144.5 points to defend their crown while the Sun Devils took second at 134, just 9.5 points off the leaders one year removed from finishing three points shy of the gold.

While the Sun Devils fell three points shy of UCLA's all-time point total of 189.5 (set in 1997), Arizona State did set a record as it recorded the largest margin of victory in Pac-10 Championships history. The Sun Devils' 69.5 margin over Stanford (186.5-117) is 8.5 points higher than UCLA's 1989 victory over Oregon (161-100) of 61 points. ASU nearly holds the record for lowest margin of victory as its 2.5 point win over Stanford in 2006 (154-151.5) is the second-smallest behind only UCLA's 2001 victory over USC, 155-153 (2.0 points).

The Sun Devils won a total of 12 events at the main portion of the Pac-10 Championships (not including the heptathlon/decathlon from the previous week), six by each gender, with two women and two men each winning two events. For the women, Charonda Williams swept the short sprints by capturing the 100m and 200m dash events while thrower Jessica Pressley doubled in the shot put and discus. On the men's side, Matt Turner won the long jump and the triple jump with Kyle Alcorn won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m.

Darryl Elston had a hand in a pair of victories as he captured the 200m dash and ran one of the legs on the victorious 4x400m relay with Justin Kremer, Marquis Profit and Joel Phillip to round out the men's winners while the women saw Sarah Stevens win the hammer throw before the team of Jeavon Benjamin, Jordan Durham, Shauntel Elcock and Dominique' Maloy combined to take the 4x400m relay.

The Sun Devil men and women set victory records for the program at the Pac-10 Championships as both genders won the most titles in a single season in Arizona State history. The women collected seven total crowns (including Jacquelyn Johnson's heptathlon crown the week prior) while the men totaled six. The previous best for the women was five, which was recorded each of the past two meets while the men's previous best also was five, which was recorded in 2005.

With her sweep of the 100m and 200m dashes (11.45 and 23.09, respectively), Charonda Williams became the ninth woman in Pac-10 history to capture both events in the same meet. She also is the first Sun Devil to accomplish the feat.

Also for the ninth time in Pac-10 history, the shot put and discus champion for the women was the same as Jessica Pressley threw 18.79m and 55.93m, respectively, to win the double. It is the second time a Sun Devil has pulled of the feat as Sarah Stevens won both events last year at Stanford.

For only the ninth time since 1976 (when the 5,000m run replaced the 2-mile run), the same man won the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m run in the same meet as Kyle Alcorn captured both for ASU. Alcorn won the steeplechase in 8:43.81 to give ASU the crown in that event for the fifth year in a row before coming back to take the 5,000m in 14:12.76.

While the previous three doubles are quite remarkable, the final double carries a little more history as Matt Turner's wins in the long jump (7.84m) and triple jump (15.63m) made him only the fifth athlete to win both events in the same year since 1960 (48 years). He is the second Sun Devil to win both in the same year as Dwight Phillips did so in 1999.

In the women's shot put, Jessica Pressley not only won the event, she also placed herself among the elite throwers in the history of the collegiate ranks as her winning mark of 18.79m (61-07.75) stands as the second-best toss in Pac-10 history behind Valeyta Althouse of UCLA, who threw 18.85m in 1995. Pressley's mark, which meets the Olympic Games 'A' standard, also stands as the fifth-best toss in the history of the NCAA.

The Sun Devil women's program has some solid performances this year with many coming from the field events, especially the throws. That was evident at the Pac-10 Championships as five throwers combined to win three of the four throwing events and score a total of 74 points, a total that would have placed those five women in sixth place as a team in the overall standings. The discus saw ASU score 24 points as Jessica PressleySarah Stevens second and Tai Battle third. The shot put produced 22 points with Pressley winning, Stevens taking second and Battle finishing fifth. The hammer throw earned 21 points with Stevens winning, Battle taking third and Pressley fourth. The javelin produced seven points with Jacquelyn Johnson taking third and Addison McGrath finishing eighth. was first,

New to the Championships this year was the addition of the Pac-10 Athlete of the Meet Award, which will be given to the one man and one woman that score the most points overall. The Sun Devils swept the honors as Jacquelyn Johnson scored 33.5 points towards the women's team score while Matt Turner took the men's honor with 21 points, just one ahead of Kyle Alcorn. Johnson scored her points in the heptathlon (10 points for first), 100m hurdles (8 for second), long jump (8 for second), javelin (6 for third) and high jump (1.5 for seventh-place tie) while Turner scored 10 each in winning the long jump and triple jump with his one point for an eighth-place finish in the high jump giving him the one-point edge.

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 teams and Johnson were not the only champions 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.

The next time out, several Sun Devils will head to Albuquerque, N.M., on February 7 for the Lobo Invitational.