Houlihan takes first in George Kyte Invitational

Several runners from the ASU women’s cross-country team control their pace during a practice last season. (Photo by Lisa Bartoli)

The ASU cross-country program went into the George Kyte Invitational knowing it was going to be a low-key meet. The ASU women’s team took second behind Southern Utah.

“Well we wanted to win, and it was tough, and sometimes you want to know where you’re at,” women’s coach Ryan Cole said. “That’s the most important thing going into our first meet — is going in and finding where we’re at and we have a better idea right now.”

Sophomore Shelby Houlihan, Pac-12’s Newcomer of the Year last season, started off the season by getting her first collegiate victory in a seemingly comfortable fashion.

“More importantly, it was how she looked when she was running and it looked very easy,” Cole said. “At this level, it’s always hard to get a win even in low-key events. So, that was a nice way to start for her, but she has bigger goals ahead and bigger meets she wants to be in front of, so we take the positives from it.”

Houlihan’s time of 16:52.4 was well under the Sun Devil course record and one of the faster times ever on that course.

Senior Natasa Vulic finished only a second off of what she finished last year, running a 17:39.0 and finishing ninth in the race.

Sophomore Payton Schutte broke out and had her best run as a Sun Devil clocking in at 17:40.5, followed by redshirt senior Hailey Hanna and freshmen Tory Haberman.

 

Men’s team start well, display depth

The Sun Devils ran their second team against what seemed to be NAU’s “A” team, and came out with a third overall finish to NAU’s first.

The ASU men had their “pack” runners of the team compete this Saturday and came out with many positives.

Redshirt sophomore Garrett Baker-Slama and redshirt freshman Ryan Herson finished first and second for the Sun Devils, respectively.

“It just goes to show how really having a great summer of training will do,” men’s coach Louie Quintana said. “For both of those guys, it’s been two really good offseasons of training. I was extremely pleased to see them make that jump and they’re going to be very helpful with our squad this year.”

Redshirt junior Steven Schneiders and redshirt senior Josh Walker finished 14th and 15th overall. Redshirt freshman transfer Jeff Bickert took 24th overall in his first meet as a Sun Devil.

The men’s team has the depth that could be described as an amount of good runners that could almost make up two competitive teams.

“It’s really going to be the essence of our team this year. I think we have some really good front running, but without the depth, we would really go nowhere,” Quintana said.

“And for the guys, it’s a big confidence booster, knowing that we have essentially two teams that can be very competitive,” Quintana added.

 

Reach the reporter at gdemano@asu.edu