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Track & field set for two road meets

February 05, 2009

Sun Devil Meet Notes (pdf)

It will be a busy weekend for the Arizona State University track and field program this weekend as three competition await the Sun Devils. On the track, the Sun Devils will send several athletes to Flagstaff, Ariz., and the Walkup Skydome for the NAU Team Challenge on Saturday morning while others will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., for the New Mexico Classic, which also will take place on Saturday. Three Sun Devils will also compete on Saturday as they will take part in the 2009 USA Junior Cross Country Championships in Derwood, Md.

On Saturday, January 31, Sun Devil coaching legend Senon 'Baldy' Castillo passed away at his home in Phoenix. Castillo, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Jan. 19, led the Sun Devil track & field program for 29 years (1949-82) and guided the men to the 1977 NCAA Outdoor Championship, the only team title won by the men's program until the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championship. In all, Castillo guided 10 NCAA individual champions, 34 All-Americans and 24 Olympians that collected 13 medals, including eight gold. His 4x400m relay of Mike Barrick, Ron Freeman, Ulis Williams and Henry Carr ran 3:04.5 in 1963, a world-record at the time. For all of his success, Castillo was inducted into the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame in 2000 and also is a member of the ASU Hall of Distinction.

Services will be held this week for the late coach. On Thursday (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.), a viewing and rosary service will be held at the Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home in Phoenix (4800 E Indian School Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018). A mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at St. Theresa Catholic Church (5045 E Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018).

National Letter of Intent signing day was Wednesday and the Sun Devils landed an impressive crop of talent, including several women ranked among the best in the nation in their respective events. The women that signed to join the program include Constance Ezugha (Edmond, Okla.), Anna Jelmini (Bakersfield, Calif.), Kevyn Murphy (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Christabel Nettey (Surrey, B.C., Canada) and ShaKeia Pinnick (Aurora, Ill.). Only one man was signed to join the deep Sun Devil men's team and that was Doug Smith (Gladstone, N.J.). All six individuals will be on campus in the fall.

The three Sun Devils that will compete in the 2009 U.S. Junior Cross Country Championships include Matt Boughton for the men and women's runners Kate Lydy and Kauren Tarver. The women will run at 11:45 a.m. (ET) in a 6,000m race while Boughton will run in the 8,000m race starting at 12:30 p.m. (ET).

Charonda Williams has opened well this season in the 60m dash, running an altitude-adjusted 7.42 two weeks ago, which was 0.01 off her personal best, before crushing that time -- and the school record -- last week with a converted 7.33. Williams' time, the fifth-best in the nation so far this year, broke the school record of 7.39 that was held by both Dawnyell Linder (1999) and Porchea Carroll (2005). Williams currently ranks seventh in the nation in the 200m dash as well after running 23.81 in her first meet of the year.

Jason Lewis has become quite the story so far this season. Through two meets, Lewis has automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in two events (weight throw and shot put), broken one school record (his own in the weight throw) and recorded personal-best throws in two events. Last week, Lewis won the shot put at the Mountain 'T' Invitational in Flagstaff with a toss of 19.30m (63-04.00), the exact distance needed for the automatic berth, and bettered his previous personal best by over three feet. One week earlier, he hit an automatic mark of 22.04m to break his own school record in the weight throw and also better his own personal-best by over three feet as well.

In her first meet of the year, Sarah Stevens showed why she is one of the top female throwers in the nation as the senior competed in the shot put and the weight throw at the Mountain 'T' Invitational and returned home with a pair of automatic qualifications. In the shot put, Stevens hit the automatic mark on the button with a toss of 16.90m (55-05.50) to earn her berth in the event she won a national title in 2007. Stevens also hit a toss of 21.05m (69-00.75) to win the weight throw and earn her ticket to the NCAA meet in the only throwing event she has entered and not earned All-America honors (has been an All-American in the indoor and outdoor shot put, the outdoor hammer and the outdoor discus).

Donald Sanford lowered his 400m time last weekend at the Mountain 'T' Invitational, clocking in at 46.76 to easily win the race. His time, which bettered his opening-week performance of 47.15, currently ranks at the fourth-best in the nation and is the top mark in the MPSF.

Although Charonda Williams had the lone Top 5 all-time at ASU mark for the women last week, four men etched their names on the ledgers in several events. Jason Lewis' toss in the shot put of 19.30m (63-04.00) ranks as the fifth-best in school history and puts two current Sun Devils on the list (including indoor collegiate record holder Ryan Whiting at 21.73m). In the heptathlon, an event that is new to the books, saw three individuals place there names on the list. In the overall heptathlon scoring, Duggan Grant scored 4,688 points in Flagstaff to rank second all-time with Alexander Wentz (4,392) and Austin Prince (4,326) ranking fourth and fifth all-time, respectively. Wentz and Duggan also set the heptathlon pole vault record as both cleared 4.55m (14-11.00), bettering the previous of 4.45m set by Joshua Kinnaman in the 2006 season.

Looking at the latest update of the NCAA's indoor descending order lists, three women and two men hold marks that rank them among the Top 12. For the men, Jason Lewis currently ranks second nationally in the shot put at 19.30m while standing third in the weight throw at 22.04m. Donald Sanford is currently fourth in the 400m dash at 46.76. On the women's side, Sarah Stevens stands second in both throwing events with her marks of 16.90m in the shot put and 21.05m in the weight throw while Stephanie Garnett is 10th in the long jump at 6.22m. On the track for the women, Charonda Williams stands fourth in the 60m dash at 7.33 and seventh in the 200m dash at 23.81.

The USTFCCCA released the latest set of national rankings (February 4) with the Sun Devils remaining among the Top 10 this week. The men remained at No. 2 while the women slipped one spot to No. 9 in the rankings that are based upon points earned for where athletes' mark rank nationally. Arkansas leads the men's rankings with ASU, Oregon, Florida, and Texas A&M rounding out the Top 5 while the women's Top 5 is comprised of Texas A&M, Tennessee, Michigan, Oregon and LSU.

Three current Sun Devils and three former team members all have recorded marks this indoor season that rank them among the Top 20 in the world. For the men, Jason Lewis is 10th in the weight throe (22.04m) and tied for 18th in the shot put (19.30m) while former Devils Matt TurnerKyle Alcorn (4:00.58) stand fourth in the long jump and 12th in the mile, respectively. On the women's side, Sarah Stevens is ranked sixth in the weight throw (21.05m) and 15th in the shot put (16.90m) while Charonda Williams is tied for 12th in the 60m dash (7.29, non-converted). Jessica Pressley is currently tied for 10th in the shot put with a toss of 17.34m. (8.00m) and

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.

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.

Several Sun Devils will travel to the Texas A&M Invitational next weekend (February 13-14) to get a feel for the home of the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships while others will compete at the NAU Invitational in Flagstaff and the Husky Classic in Seattle. The meet in Seattle will be the first meet of the indoor season for a large number of the distance team.