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Houlihan wins season opener in Flagstaff

September 04, 2012

Shelby Houlihan took home the first cross country victory of her collegiate career and the Arizona State University women took second while the men were third at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, Ariz., Sept. 1. 

Houlihan looked to be on cruise control on the 5,000-meter course at Buffalo Park as she became just the second Sun Devil in women’s history to win the individual title after Jenna Wrieden did it in 2005.  Houlihan’s final time of 16:52.4 obliterated the Sun Devil record at the event by just under a minute and was among the faster times ever recorded at the course.

It was the first collegiate cross country victory for the sophomore, who returns to ASU after earning the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year honor in 2011.

Houlihan’s victory paced the team to a runner-up finish behind Southern Utah, who finished with 24 points.  Arizona State had 43 while the University of Arizona was third with 66.

Senior Natasa Vulic was the model of consistency as she took ninth overall in 17:39.0 after finishing in 17:38.0 last season – the previous ASU course record. 

Sophomore Payton Schutte ran the strongest race of her collegiate career as she took 10th in 17:40.5 an was the third Sun Devil across the line.

Rounding out the scoring field for ASU was Hailey Hanna in 13th in a time of 17:55.1 – over a minute faster than her time on the course last year – and freshman Tory Haberman in 14th in 18:00.4.

On the men’s side, redshirt sophomore Garrett Baker-Slama and redshirt freshman Ryan Herson became just the second and third Sun Devils in school history to go under 26 minutes on the 8,000-meter course, finishing in 25:45.2 and 25:52.3. 

Running without the majority of their top runners, the men’s team showed its depth with Baker-Slama taking eighth overall with Herson in 11th. 

Junior Steven Schnieders was next across the line in 26:19.1 to finish 14th overall, just ahead of teammate and senior Josh Walker, who was 15th in 26:22.2 

Freshman transfer Jeff Bickert rounded out the field for ASU in 27:01.3 to take 24th overall.

The men were third overall behind Northern Arizona, who ran what appeared to be the ‘A’ team and finished with 20 points.  Southern Utah was the runner-up with 54 points with ASU finishing with 66.

The Sun Devil are slated to return to action next weekend at the Artichoke Invitational, hosted by Scottsdale Community College, Sept. 8.