Track and field heads to Austin for NCAA West Preliminaries
The Arizona State University track and field team will open up the first rounds of NCAA Championships this weekend as the squad heads to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA West Preliminaries at Mike A. Myers Stadium. The Sun Devils will be in action beginning Thursday, May 24 and continuing through Saturday, May 26. Events will run over the course of the day on all three days. The NCAA Preliminaries are in essence the qualifying or advancement rounds of the NCAA Championships, which are set to take place in Des Moines, Iowa, beginning June 6, 2012.
The top 48 student-athletes per event per regions (East and West) advance to the NCAA Preliminaries where the fields will face off in an elimination format until only 12 student-athletes per event in each region are remaining. Those 24 final student -athletes will converge in Des Moines for the NCAA Finals. The lone exception to the rule is the relay events, where only the top 24 relays per region have advanced to the preliminaries with 12 eventually advancing to the finals.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
• The Sun Devil men are coming off a trophy-earning fourth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Boise earlier in March. The men saw two national champions crowned in Jordan Clarke in the shot put and Mason McHenry at 800 meters.
• Head coach Greg Kraft is in his 16th season at Arizona State, the fourth-longest tenure of any of ASU’s current sports coaches.
• Junior Jordan Clarke is currently ranked in the NCAA top-25 in both the shot put (4th) and the hammer throw (11th) heading into the weekend
• Jordan Clarke is the NCAA”s returning shot put champion outdoors and will be the returning champion when the team reaches the 2013 indoor season as well after his performance in Boise earlier this year.
• Sophomore Anna Jelmini is on a bit of a hot streak of late, sweeping the Pac-12 shot put and discus titles and currently ranking in the top-10 in the nation in both this year.
• The Sun Devil men took third at the Pac-12 Championships while the women were fifth. The teams combined for five individual champions and a sweep of the men’s relays over the course of the competition.
• Chris Benard enters the weekend as the top-ranked triple jumper in the nation and has set school records in the event indoors and outdoors on the year.
• Entering the weekend, the Sun Devils have 13 student-athletes in 16 different events ranked in the top 25 in those respective events in the nation as well as two relays on the men’s side.
IN THE RANKINGS: USTFCCCA TOP 25
The Arizona State men will enter the weekend in 14th in the USTFCCCA Computer Rankings, remaining static in last week’s spot. The ASU women dropped two positions to No. 12 after a relative bye weekend for the teams. The computer rankings utilize mathematical formulae to determine which NCAA teams have the best potential of scoring well at the NCAA Championships meet.
IN THE RANKINGS: USTFCCCA WEST REGION
The ASU men finished the 2012 campaign second in the USTFCCCA West Region rankings with 673.00 points, just over 14 points behind Oregon with 687.72. The ASU women finished fourth overall with 561.01 points behind Oregon, Stanford and Arizona.
FOLLOW ALL THE ACTION
All meet information can be found at the University of Texas website at http://www.texassports.com/ot/2012-ncaa-tf-west-prelims.html. There are links to the live results posted as well as general competition information. There will also be a live blog hosted by the Arizona State University media relations department that will be available at http://www.thesundevils.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/051212aaa.html on the days of the event (the information within the link will change later).
A LOOK BACK - Pac-12 Championships
The Arizona State men took second at the Pac-12 Championships in Eugene, Ore. It was the best conference finish for the ASU men since 2008, where they also finished second overall. The Sun Devil women took fifth overall and it was the 13th consecutive top-five conference finish for the team. Over the course of the weekend, team posted five individual championships and two relay champions. Anna Jelmini swept the shot put and discus competitions while Constance Ezugha had her best competition of the year to win the long jump. Chris Benard continued his impressive season with a win in the triple jump while Jordan Clarke took the shot put crown. The men’s relays swept the competition, doing so for the first time since 2005 and just the third time in Pac-12 history. Clarke also notched a second-place finish in the hammer throw and took third in the discus for 24 total points on the weekend, which earned him the Pac-12 Men’s Athlete of the Meet honor. It was the third highest individual conference points total in ASU history.
LOOKING EVER FURTHER BACK - 2011 NCAA West Regional
The Sun Devils sent 13 student-athletes beyond the regional into the NCAA Championships last year at the event in Eugene, Ore. Anna Jelmini advanced in both the shot out and discus events last season while Jordan Clarke advanced in the shot put. Ryan Milus moved to the 100-meter semifinals as a freshman and Chris Benard moved on in the triple jump in his first season as a Sun Devil. Cj Navarro (hammer), Christabel Nettey (long jump), Keia Pinnick (heptathlon), Kayla Sanchez (400m hurdles) were the other current Sun Devils who advanced beyond the Regional last season.
Christabel Nettey looked up to snuff with her outdoor long jumping self that earned first-team All-America honors last season as she soared 6.58m (21-07.25) in the team’s season opener at the Baldy Castillo Invitational for a new career best and improved her second-place hold on ASU’s all-time list in the event. The mark is also good for the seventh-best jump in the nation this year and the top mark in the conference heading into the weekend. Nettey also moved into second all-time at ASU in the triple jump with her leap of 12.80m (42-00.00) at the ASU Invite.
RUNNING RELAY FAST
The ASU men’s relay teams strutted their stuff at the Sun Angel Classic with the men’s 4x100m of Daniel Auberry, Chris Burrows, Rashad Ross and Ryan Milus clocking a time of 39.12 that ranks seventh in the country thus far. The 4x400m team of Kelsey Caesar, Chris Burrows, John Kline and Will Henry currently sits 15th as well with their season opening time of 3:05.29. Both those squad swept the Pac-12 titles in their respective events in Eugene - the first sweep of the relays since 2005 and just the third in ASU Pac-10/12 history.
I’VE GOT A HINCH
Before the 2012 season even got underway, head coach Greg Kraft said that Derick Hinch, a junior college pole vault transfer out of Cuesta College in California, would be one of the team’s dark horse as it fights for Pac-12 dominance this year. Hinch looked to be playing the part at the ASU Invite as he soared 5.50m (18-00.50) for the second-best jump in school history and the current sixth-best pole vault in the nation and the second-best in the conference. Hinch took second at the Pac-12 Championships in the event.
IT’S ALL HER VAULT
Shaylah Simpson is not suffering any sort of sophomore slump in 2012 in the pole vault. After setting the freshman record in the event last season, Simpson set personal record in three consecutive competitions this year, cumulating in a new career-best of 4.30m (14-01.25) for the ninth-best jump in the nation this year and the second-best jump in ASU history - less than an inch behind April Kubishta’s school record in the event. Simpson took third at the Pac-12 Championships.
Keeping track of Keia Pinnick at a track meet isn’t always an easy task. The junior does just about everything for the Sun Devils and showed it at the Pac-12 Combined Events in last weekend as she set a career best in the heptathlon with a score of 5,703. That score sits sixth in the nation in 2012 and would have been good for fifth at the NCAA Championships in 2011. Not only that, but it moves Pinnick to third on ASU’s all-time descending order list in the event.
KEIA TO THE CITY
Pinnick is proving herself to be one of the most pivotal pieces on the ASU squad outside of the heptathlon as demonstrated by her new career-best run of 57.34 to win the open section of the Mt. SAC Relays. The time is good for the 16th-best time in the nation and also moved her to sixth on ASU’s all-time list in the event. Pinnick was fourth in the event at the Pac-12 Championships and was also fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. With the Championships season underway though, Pinnick will turn her attention solely to the long jump this weekend, where she has already gone over six meters this season.
RUNNING FOR MILUS AND MILES
If there is such a thing as a sophomore slump, Ryan Milus is showing no symptoms of it in the 2012 outdoor season. The second-year runner broke the meet record at the ASU invite with a career-best time of 10.21 in the 100-meter dash and followed it up with a then-career-best 20.86 in the 200-meter dash later in the event. Milus currently sits 17th in the nation at 100 meters and was fourth in the event at the Pac-12 Championships. Milus also ran the anchor leg for the Pac-12 Championship 4x100-meter relay team.
Another student-athlete not looking at any dropoff is Mason McHenry at 800 meters. After winning the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championship in the event, McHenry clocked a new outdoor best of 1:47.60 at the ASU Invite for the 13th-fastest time in the country and second-fastest in school history. McHenry was third in the event at the Pac-12 Championships.
Freshman Shelby Houlihan is fast becoming one of the top middle-distance runners to ever come through Tempe and she’s only competed in just a handful of races. Competing against several potential Olympians at the Sun Angel Classic, Houlihan clocked a freshman record and the eighth-fastest time in the country in 2:03.85 for the third-best time in school history in just her second outdoor 800-meter run and took fourth in the event at the Pac-12 Championships.
THROWING THEIR WEIGHT
Over the past 10 years, David Dumble has continued to bring in top talent and build the throws program at Arizona State, which has collected 13 total national titles, including the shiny new trophy earned by Jordan Clarke at the NCAA Indoor Championships just two weeks ago. With Clarke the defending indoor AND outdoor national champion and Anna Jelmini the top returning discus thrower in the nation, the ASU throws team looks to continue their perennial dominance of the event into the outdoor season.
A MAN OF MANY DIFFERENT HATS
Jordan Clarke has wasted little time establishing himself as one of the top all-around throwers in the country with his recent performances. Clarke ranks in the top 15 in both the shot put and discus events, sitting fourth and 11th, respectively. Clarke took the 2012 Pac-12 title in the shot put, was second in the hammer and nabbed a third-place finish in the discus to give him 24 points towards Arizona State’s team title and garnering him Pac-12 Athlete of the Meet accolades.
EVERYTHING IS JEL-ING
Clarke isn’t the only Sun Devil turning it on in the throws. Sophomore Anna Jelmini finds herself ranked second in the discus and eighth in the shot put events and she swept the two events at the Pac-12 Championships. It was the second consecutive Pac-12 discus title for the sophomore and the first shot put crown of her career.
Bryan McBride has come on strong in his sophomore campaign and finds himself fast rising the ASU all-time ranks in the process. McBride currently ranks 18th in the nation with his career outdoor best of 2.20m (7-02.50) in both oudoor contests he has competed in this year, good for seventh on ASU’s all-time list.
TRIPLE THE EXCITEMENT
Chris Benard is now the proud owner of two school records after knocking off Deon Mayfield’s 30-year-old school record at the Mt. SAC Relays with a new career-best of 16.74m (54-11.25). The mark moved Benard into the top spot in the nation at the NCAA level in 2012 and earned him Pac-12 Field Athlete of the Week honors for the second time this season. Benard won the triple jump championship at the Pac-12 Championships in Eugene.
IN THE TOP 10 ALL-TIME - OUTDOORS
The Sun Devils are starting to get into the swing of things and, as such, the record book is starting to need some re-writing. Thus far in 2012, five student-athletes have etched their names in the record books for the first time while 14 athletes in 18 events have all improved upon prior record book marks. Derick Hinch, Andrea Crook, Chris Benard , Alex Hartig and Shelby Houlihan are the newest additions to the list, with Hinch moving to second all-time in the pole vault, Crook seventh in the triple jump, Benard taking the school record in the triple jump, Hartig ninth in the shot put and Houlihan ninth in the 1,500-meter run and third in the 800m. Christabel Nettey is pacing the way for the returners, as she has improved to second in both the long jump and triple jump. Ryan Milus (100m), Mason McHenry (800m), Bryan McBride (high jump), Shaylah Simpson (pole vault), Linda Kuenzi (pole vault), Jordan Clarke (shot put/hammer), Ashley Lampley (hammer), Anna Jelmini (shot put/hammer), Cj Navarro (hammer), Constance Ezugha (long jump), Kauren Tarver (steeplechase), Lindsey Prescott (10,000m) and Keia Pinnick (heptathlon/400m hurdles) have all also improved upon marks they already held within the top 10.