The ASU men’s cross-country team is expected to put out its top runners Saturday for the first time this season.
The UCLA Bubble Buster in Valencia, Calif., will be the first very competitive meet for the Sun Devils.
Past meets have been so low-key the team has decided not to run its top athletes or not enter in the meet at all.
But Saturday will be filled with teams looking to see where they stand between other lower tier and higher ranked teams.
“I’m pretty excited,” redshirt senior Darius Terry said. “We haven’t ran our top four guys yet, so we’ve just been training a lot and things have been going really well. We want to get out there and compete with them and hopefully come out with a win.”
The only two nationally ranked teams at the meet will be NAU at No. 18 and UCLA at No. 27. Cal Poly, who qualified for nationals last year, will also take part in the race. Clemson, Long Beach State, UC Davis and Sacramento St. round up the rest of the competition.
ASU faired well in its opener versus NAU. Running without its fastest racers, the Sun Devils still placed third behind NAU’s “A” team and Southern Utah.
Terry and senior Nick Happe are arguably the team’s strongest returners. This will be the first meet they’re competing in this year.
Unlike last year, the Sun Devils seem to be focused on not just solely racing.
“Our team’s goal is racing well and racing smart,” Happe said. “We haven’t really set any quantifiable objectives for the weekend. It’s more along the lines of going out there, racing smart and racing well as a team. And last year we felt like that was one of the things we lacked.”
Although nothing is set in stone, expect ASU to go with its top runners.
While this is just the beginning, the lineup may change a bit or a lot on a weekly basis.
Rotating through different runners and lineups throughout the season is a regular assignment men’s coach Louie Quintana will have to take on in order to find the best match.
As it isn’t any different in cross-country, it is vital in any sport for a team to be able to perform at its best toward the end.
“Our focus is running well at the end of the season, so we’re just training,” Quintana said. “Guys are used to really training through the month of September.”
“We’re trying to stay focused on everything we can control at this point and I think going into this weekend, we have a great game plan and we just have to go out, race with strategy and be competitive.”
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