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Sun Devil harriers set for GC Invite

October 07, 2011


The Arizona State University cross country team will take part in a de facto ‘home’ meet this weekend as they travel about an hour southwest of Tempe to take part at the Grand Canyon Invitational on Saturday at the Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, Ariz.  Though ASU is not the host of this year’s event, it does provide a home meet of sorts despite its distance from campus and gives fans willing to make the drive a great opportunity to see the team on the local scene this season with the football game being away.  Both squads will run their “B” lineups with some runners looking to crack the rotation for next week’s Wisconsin Invitational travel roster.  The women’s 5,000-meter race will commence at 8 a.m. MST, followed by the men’s 8k at 8:45 a.m.

Previewing the Field: Men
With most teams preparing for the Wisconsin Invitational next weekend, the field may not feature some of the primary runners for the teams in competition but will feature no shortage of talent.  The University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University are both slated to run and will likely bring solid ‘B’ teams to the competition as well. The men’s lineup will consist of Domenic D’Acquisto, Steven Schnieders, Matt Estlund, Josh Walker, Jesus Molina, Andrew Hagler, Scott Albright and Andy Cannata.  Estlund posted a solid finish at the Dave Murray Invite in Tucson earlier this season and will look to pace the team again on Saturday.

Previewing the Field: Women
Like the men’s race, the D-I schools in the competition likely won’t feature too many of the top runners but will be competitive nonetheless.  Again, Arizona and Northern Arizona will also be in action against the Sun Devils.  The ASU women’s roster will feature Mackenzie Maki, Shaina Corbin, Karlee Owens, Hailey Hanna, Kayla Springford and Taylor Conway.

Meet History: Grand Canyon Invitational
One would have to take a look back in the annals of history to find the last time that the ASU team’s competed at the Grand Canyon Invitational.  In fact, you’d have to scan all the way back to 1996 to find the team’s last appearance at the meet. That wasa  good year for the Sun Devils as well, as the women’s team won the competition.  In total the both the men (‘93-’95) and the women (‘93-’94, ‘96) have posted three victories in the competition.  The women’s squad posted the program’s second-lowest point total all-time at the 1993 competition with 16 points while the men scored their fifth-lowest point total at the 1995 meet. 

Look Back: 1996 Grand Canyon Invite
The ASU women’s posted their 17th overall team victory in all meets at the GCU Invite.  The team scored 33 points in the competition and was led by Priscilla Boldt’s second-place overall individual finish.

Last Time Out
The ASU men posted a solid fourth-place finish at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis two weekends ago, led by Darius Terry’s fifth place finish.  The Sun Devils matched their third-best finish in meet history with the fourth-place run and were just a couple points behind the nationally ranked host, Minnesota. The ASU women, competing against eight of the top 30 teams in the nation posted a solid 11th-place finish in the season opener for several of their top runners.  Freshman Shelby Houlihan paced the team in her collegiate debut with a 24th-place indivudal finish.

Grand Opening
The wait to witness some of ASU’s prime recruits in action ended at the Roy Griak Invitational with several student-athletes making their collegiate debuts.  Shelby Houlihan looked to live up to much of the hype, as the Iowa state prep star paced the Sun Devils en route to a 24th place overall finish among some of the top competition in the country in her first race in the Maroon and Gold.  Fellow freshman Macy Bricks took home 71st and was the fourth ASU harrier across the line, scoring points in her debut as well.  

Playing Host
Arizona State University will host the first-ever Pac-12 Conference Championships on Oct. 29 in Litchfield Park, Ariz., at thw Wigwam Golf Resort.  With the addition of the University of Colorado and the University of Utah, the conference formally known as the Pac-10 will open its championship season with the cross country championships hosted by the Sun Devils.  More meet information can be found by visiting cross country home page and clicking the banner link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

Statement Victory?
Redshirt junior Darius Terry opened up the 2011 campaign with a dominating performance at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, nabbing the individual title for the first time in Sun Devil history at the competition.  Clocking a time of 25:38.8 over the 8,000-meter course, Terry crossed the line about 17 seconds better than his closest competitor and keyed a dominating Sun Devil performance that saw the team capture their second title in George Kyte history.  Also notable about the win is the fact that it was the first time since 2001 that a member of the Sun Devil men’s team has won an individual title, quick the accomplishment with names like Aaron Aguayo, Kyle Alcorn and Brandon Bethke making their way through the ranks during that span.  Just a couple months removed from being the first All-American at 1,500 meters during the track and field season, Terry looks like he may be ready to make the jump into the national spotlight as the season wears on.

Flying High as a Kyte
With the Sun Devil cross country team looking to start moving back towards the top after a rebuilding 2010 campaign, the future is looking bright after the results of the George Kyte Classic. The Sun Devil men’s team captured their 16 overall team time behind Darius Terry’s individual crown while the women’s harriers nabbed a solid second-place finish without some of their top runners. 

A Reforming of the Guard
The coaching structure for the 2011 season will feature a slight shift as Louie Quintana will return for his eighth season as head coach for the Arizona State cross country program and will oversee the men’s team.  Ryan Cole, an assistant coach to Quintana for the past three seasons, will assume the role of head coach for the ASU women’s squad.  Quintana will also see over the men’s middle and long distance runners during the track and field season while Cole will be the assistant coach for the women’s middle and long distances.

Louie Louie
Coming into his eighth season as a head coach for Arizona State cross country, Louie Quintana has put together quite the program since taking over in August 2004.  During his six years leading the distance group, Quintana has worked with seven individuals that earned 10 total All-America honors in cross country, including the program’s only three-time honoree Amy Hastings and Brandon Bethke who placed seventh nationally at the 2009 NCAA Championships. On the track, his athletes have been instrumental in helping the Sun Devils capture four national titles and three Pac-10 crowns. He has worked with three individuals that have collected four NCAA titles, including Kyle Alcorn, who won the indoor 3,000-meter run and the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2008.

No Lump of Cole
Ryan Cole
has built up a reputation as one of the most promising and exciting up-and-coming young coaches in the nation and being named as the head coach for the women’s cross country team for the 2011 campaign is a testament to that.  The first-year coach began working with the Arizona State program during the 2007-08 campaign and had served as an assistant ever since.  In that time, Cole worked with the ASU women’s distance teams serving under Coach Louie Quintana while also handling many of the daily administrative aspects of the Arizona State program and working with the management of home meets.  Cole has been an active recruiter during his tenure, bring in a solid class of athletes for the current season, and will be a welcomed addition to the ASU coaching staff.

Welcome to the Show
The Arizona State cross country rosters feature a total of 34 student-athletes (18 men, 16 women).  Of that total, there will be 16 new faces gracing the Sun Devil uniform.  The women’s squad features eight freshmen in Macy Bricks (Clovis, Calif.), Taylor Conway (Brookfield, Wis.), Shaina Corbin (Ashland, Ohio), Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa), Mackenzie Maki (Wichita, Kan.), Carly Paracholski (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), Payton Schutte (Portland, Ore.) and Kayla Springford (Dracut, Mass.).  On the men’s side, another eight student-athletes will don the maroon and gold for the first time in 2011  in Garrett Baker-Slama (Phoenix, Ariz.), Andy Cannata (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Domenic D’Acquisto (Redding, Calif.), Andrew Hagler (Chandler, Ariz.), Ryan Herson (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Jesus Molina (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), Daniel Wong (Tucson, Ariz.) and Heyden Wooff (Camarillo, Calif.).

Senior Leadership
With the large amount of new faces on both cross country teams this season, the seniors on both squads will provide some valuable experience to the youngsters.  That being said, both teams are still quite young across the board and the senior leadership is at a premium.  On the women’s side, just two student-athletes return in 2011 as seniors in Lindsay Prescott and Kauren Tarver.  Prescott established herself as one of the top runners in the conference last season and Tarver has been a staple on the travel team throughout most of her career at ASU.  On the men’s side, Cameron Liston, Daniel Lovell and Brian Pierre represent the lone threesome of seniors.  Lovell has already established himself as one of the prominent distance runners in Sun Devil history and has taken on a captain’s role early in the season.

A Local Affair
One of the keys to building one of the top running programs in nation is the ability to recruit well from the areas around you.  The Sun Devil men’s team has taken the task seriously and will field seven Arizona natives on the 2011 roster, several of whom will be expected to play a large role on this year’s team.  Senior Daniel Lovell hails from Anthem, Ariz., and will be among the teams top runners this season in addition to his role as a senior on the team.  Garrett Baker-Slama (Tempe, Ariz.), Matt Boughton (Phoenix, Ariz.), Cameron Liston (Chandler, Ariz.) and Daniel Wong (Tucson, Ariz.) are some others that could play a pivotal part as the season progresses.

Top Honors
Not only is the ASU cross country team looking to get things accomplished on the athletic side of things in 2011, but they have also started to put in work in the classroom as well.  Four members of the Sun Devil women’s squad and three men will take classes as part of Barrett, The Honors College, during the 2011-12 academic calendar.  Barrett, which has been named among the top honors colleges in the nation, enrolls nearly 30 Sun Devil student-athletes in its highly selective program with almost a quarter coming from the cross country programs.  The members representing the cross country team in the honors college consist of Natasa Vulic (Jr.), Catherine Loden (Jr.), Karlee Owens (So.) and Kayla Springford (Fr.) on the women’s team and Garrett Baker-Slama (Fr.), Andrew Hagler (Fr.) and Nick Happe (Jr.) for the men.

In The Rankings
A strong showing at the Roy Griak Invitational two weekends ago put the men back in the rankings at No. 29 after two weeks on the outside looking in.  Entering this weekend’s competition the men have climbed to No. 23.  The women’s team remains unranked on the season and has yet to receive a vote. 

2010: Season in Review – Men
Ben Engelhardt took 51st at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., narrowly missing All-American accolades in his final race as a Sun Devil.  Engelhardt paced Arizona State program throughout the season, guiding the squad to a fifth-place finish at both the NCAA West Regional Championships and the Pac-10 Conference Championships.  Engelhardt earned second-team All-Conference honors at the conference meet, placing 14th overall.  The Arizona State men won the team title at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson early in the season and remained consistent as the year wore on as they made a push for a bid at the NCAA Championships.

2010: Season in Review – Women
A young Arizona State women’s squad competed hard throughout the season, clocking strong team results in finishing second at both the George Kyte Invitational and the Dave Murray Invitational to start out the season.  Lindsay Prescott paced the team throughout the year, taking home a 17th-place finish at the NCAA Pre-National Meet as well as leading the Sun Devils across the line at the Pac-10 Championships and NCAA West Regional Championships.  The ASU women took home seventh at the conference championships and 13th at the regional competition.