Houlihan pushes women’s cross-country to Nationals

TICKET PUNCHED: ASU freshman Shelby Houlihan takes off her running spikes after the Pac-12 Championships in October. Houlihan’s performance at the NCAA West Regionals on Saturday helped the Sun Devil women make Nationals. (Photo by Elijah Grasser)

Going into Saturday’s West Regional, the only certainty for ASU cross-country was that Shelby Houlihan would compete in Nationals.

With a seventh place finish in Palo Alto, Calif., the rest of the ASU women’s cross-country team joined Houlihan and earned an at-large bid to Nationals.

Houlihan, who has stepped up for the Sun Devils in her freshman campaign, once again paced the women. Houlihan finished in 12th place in a time of 20:36, and she was a big reason the Sun Devils were able to qualify for Nationals.

“Shelby is a steady competitor,” women’s coach Ryan Cole said. “Very consistent and mature in racing situations for someone her age and with her minimal training background. Competitively, she’s been a rock for the program this fall.”

Past Houlihan, the Sun Devils also received crucial performances, including one from senior Lindsay Prescott, who arguably saved ASU’s season.

“Lindsay passed about 15 girls in the last 800 meters, including a few girls from the team that placed just behind us,” Cole said. “If she doesn’t pass that group of people, we don’t qualify.”

Senior Kate Lydy also emerged during Saturday’s meet. She had one of her best races of the year, finishing in 55th place in 21:34.

“Kate did have a solid effort,” Cole said. “She’s a senior, has been very committed to her running, and ran the race the team needed her to have.”

Freshman Macy Bricks finished next for the Sun Devils in 65th place with a time of 21:44. Junior Natasa Vulic rounded out the scoring girls for ASU, finishing in 75th place in 21:53.

The Division I Cross-Country Championships will be in Terre Haute, Ind. next Monday.

Unfortunately on the men’s side, their eighth place finish Saturday was not enough to earn an at-large bid to Indiana. Regardless, the Sun Devils put forth a spirited effort without top runner Darius Terry — who was sidelined with a heart condition — and coach Louie Quintana was proud of his group.

“I was so proud of the guys and how they responded and bounced back,” Quintana said. “I had so many coaches from other teams coming up to me saying how great of a team run that was. It was nice.”

Junior Nick Happe, for the third consecutive time, led the Sun Devils. His emergence this year was crucial for ASU and looks promising for the future.

“Not to downplay his performances, but we expected Nick to breakthrough this year,” Quintana said. “I think he would tell you the same thing. I have high expectations for Nick as he does too. If he continues to stay healthy we are going to see fantastic things from him during the track season.”

Matt Boughton finished next for the Devils, followed by Doug Smith and senior team captain Daniel Lovell. With the Sun Devils not qualifying, this was the last race of Lovell’s career.

“D-Love has been such a tremendous person to work with,” Quintana said. “He is a fantastic leader and the young guys have until June to continue to learn from him and understand what it means to be a leader. He will greatly be missed next year, without question.”

 

Reach the reporter at dsshapi1@asu.edu

 

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