Track & field heads to Texas for conference challenge
The Arizona State University track and field teams will have their toughest test of the early season this weekend as they head east to College Station, Texas, for the Texas A&M Mondo Challenge. The annual event will feature two teams from the Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 in a conference challenge format where the conferences will compete as one against the other conferences. ASU joins Oregon in representing the Pac-12 while Florida and Tennessee will compete for the SEC and host Texas A&M will join forces with Texas Tech for the Big 12. The conference will compete as men’s and women’s teams. Events will begin on Friday, Jan. 27, with the men’s 5,000-meter run at 1:30 p.m. CT and continue at 6 with the remainder of the day’s events. The competition will resume Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
•The ASU women are #21 in this week’s USTFCCCA Top 25 rankings
• Senior Chris Benard set the school triple jump record in the season opener with a leap of 16.14m (52-11.50) in Flagstaff - which is also the top mark in the country so far this year
•Jordan Clarke returns to the Sun Devils as the defending outdoor NCAA shot put champion
• Ryan Milus clocked the third-fastest 60-meter time in the country at the Lumberjack Invite at 6.63 seconds
•Anna Jelmini returns as the lone Sun Devil to earn first team All-America honors from last year’s indoor campaign, a fifth-place finish in the shot put
Saturday’s competition will mark the earliest the Sun Devils have opened a season since 2004 when the team also opened at the Lumberjack Invitational on Jan. 17 of that year. The early start is due in large part to the Arizona State academic schedule which brings the students back a bit earlier than it has in the past. This will allow the team to get its competition wheels set before the brunt of the season begins at the end of January, starting with the Texas A&M Invitational on Jan. 27-28.
IN THE RANKINGS: USTFCCCA TOP 25
The USTFCCCA released its Week One computer rankings on Jan. 23 and the ASU women remain in the Top 25, though they have dropped to No. 21 after being 16th in the preseason polls. The ASU men remain unranked in this week’s poll, despite having four student-athletes ranked in the top-8 in their respective events in the country. Early in the season, the computer formulae uses results from the 2011 season in addition to marks from 2012 in an effort to predict which teams have the best opportunity to score well at the NCAA Championships.
IN THE RANKINGS: USTFCCCA WEST REGION
Despite being unranked in the national computer polls, the ASU men find themselves in the top spot in the West Region in the first regional rankings of the season with 358 points. The Arizona State women find themselves in fourth in regional rankings behind Stanford, Cal and Boise State.
TRIPLE THE EXCITEMENT
Senior Chris Benard had an impressive season for the Sun Devils last year, advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the triple jump after transferring from Riverside College. Benard got 2012 started with a bang though with a 16.14m (52-11.50) leap at the Lumberjack Invitational to take down Dwight Phillips’ 12-year-old indoor school record in the event and give Benard the top jump in the country in the early part of the season. It was just the third time in school history that a student-athlete had cleared the 16-meter barrier indoors.
RUNNING FOR MILUS AND MILES
Sophomore Ryan Milus wasted no time establishing himself as one of the top young runners in the country in the season opener at the Lumberjack Invite, clocking an altitude-adjusted 6.63 in the 60-meter dash for the third-best time in the country thus far this year. Milus’ original time of 6.59 would have been good for the NCAA auto qualifying mark, but the altitude adjustment knocked his time just above the 6.60 time required to achieve that. Nevertheless, it was the third-fastest time in ASU history in the event. and sets Milus up well as the season continues to move on.
Mason McHenry had an impressive season-opener at 800 meters in clocking the second-fastest time in the nation with a altitude-adjusted time of 1:49.24. The senior holds the school record in the indoor version of the event and the coaches believe this could be the year where the talent comes to fruition come championship time.
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 12 total national titles, including four in the indoor shot put and one in the weight throw. ASU returns indoor All-Americans in Anna Jelmini (First Team) and Jordan Clarke (Second Team) this season.
THROWING MORE WEIGHT
Jordan Clarke posted the eighth-best shot put mark in the country in the season opener in Flagstaff with a mark of 19.13m (62-09.25) to win the competition. It was an indoor record for Clarke by over a foot and solid opener for the junior and returning NCAA outdoor champion. It also improved upon Clarke’s hold on the sixth-best throw in school history in the indoor version of the event.
LITERALLY THROWING SOME WEIGHT
Senior Ashley Lampley had one of the most impressive personal records of the season opener in the weight throw, launching one 18.87m (61-11.00) to obliterate her previous personal best of 17.45m (57-03.00) set last season and score the 23rd-best throw of the nation this season. Lampley finsihed second in the competition and moved up to fifth on ASU’s all-time list in the event.
VAULTING TO THE TOP
Before the season, head coach Greg Kraft believe that one of the team’s dark horses this season could be incoming vaulter Derick Hinch, a transfer from Cuesta College. Hinch, a sophomore, lived up to the hype in his first competition as he cleared 5.17m (16-11.75) at the Lumberjack Invitational for the fifth-best indoor mark in school history and a top-30 mark early on in the 2012 season.
CLEARING THE FIRST HURDLE
Another student-athlete that head coach Greg Kraft was high on entering the season was freshman Cameron Taylor in the hurdles. One of the top prep hurdles out of Arizona, Taylor clocked a time of 8.04 in the 60-meter hurdles in Flagstaff which was good for the second-fastest time in indoor history in the event.
IN THE TOP 10 ALL-TIME
With just one competition in the books, 12 ASU student-athletes moved into or improved upon their prior top-10 marks in school history. The newcomers include Cameron Taylor (60mH, second), Derick Hinch (Pole Vault, fifth), Shelby Houlihan (800m, eighth), Nick Happe (Mile, eighth) and Daniel Auberry (60m, ninth). Ryan Milus (60m), Chris Benard (triple jump), Ashley Lampley (weight throw), Jordan Clarke (shot put), Keia Pinnick (60m hurdles), John Kline (800m) and Asiah Gooden (60m) all improved upon marks they already held in the top-10 in their respective events.