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USTFCCCA ranks Sun Devil men second, women sixth

January 09, 2009

When the Arizona State University track and field program opens its 2009 indoor season later this month, it will do so with a pair of Top 6 national rankings, according to the USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Rankings that were released January 8. Although both the Sun Devil men and women's teams are the defending national champions, they enter the season ranked No. 2 and No. 6, respectively, based upon points earned.

The ranking system assigns point values to marks attained by individuals and relays in the contested events at the NCAA Championships based upon where that mark ranks nationally. Using marks recorded last year, the Sun Devil men have 129.59 points, trailing only Oregon (132.21) while the women have 84.35 points.

On the men's side, Oregon and ASU are followed in the Top 5 by Arkansas (129.31), Florida (126.03) and Florida State (104.43) while the remainder of the Top 10 is filled out by Texas A&M (102.28), Texas (81.73), LSU (79.42), Louisville (72.92) and BYU (71.06). Three other Pac-10 schools are ranked in the Top 25, including Arizona (No. 19), UCLA (No. 24) and Stanford (No. 25).

The women, who will look to capture their third indoor championship crown in a row, sit sixth with the five teams ahead of them being Texas A&M (149.39), LSU (127.20), Michigan (119.57), Tennessee (117.19) and Florida State (109.87). The Sun Devils are followed by Virginia Tech (82.42), Oregon (81.98), Texas Tech (81.27) and Minnesota (74.08) in the Top 10. Arizona (No. 15) and Stanford (No. 17) are the only other Pac-10 schools in the Top 25.

Ryan Whiting is the lone returning national champion for the men after he captured the shot put last year with a collegiate and NCAA meet record toss of 21.73m (71-03.50). Three-fourths of the national runner-up distance medley relay team also is back this year (Nectaly Barbosa, Joey Heller and Justin Kremer) while three-fourths of the third-place 4x400m relay also will be back on the track in 2009 (Darryl Elston, Kremer and Joel Phillip). Phillip will be another key to ASU's success after finishing second nationally in the 400m dash last year and earning All-America honors outdoors in the same event. ASU will, however, be without three All-Americans from last year's championship run, including Kyle Alcorn (3,000m run champion and anchor of the DMR), Jimmie Gordon (400m All-American and member of the 4x400m relay) and Matt Turner (long jump All-American).

After winning a pair of national team titles, the women will be without the services of three national champions this year after they graduated in 2008, including Jacquelyn Johnson (seven-time champion), April Kubishta (2007 outdoor pole vault champion) and Jessica Pressley (two-time outdoor shot put champion), who combined to earn five All-America honors last year. Despite the losses, the team is strong and led by Sarah Stevens, the 2007 indoor shot put champion and an improving sprint corps. Three-fourths of the All-American 4x400m relay team is back this year (Jeavon Benjamin, Shauntel Elcock and Dominique' Maloy) while Stephanie Garnett will look for her second long jump honor in a row.

ASU will open its 2009 indoor season on January 23 with several athletes competing at the Friday Night Challenge at Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.