The ASU men’s cross-country team learned that when it returns to Valencia, Calif., for the Pac-12 Championships in five weeks, the Sun Devils will have to be ready and stay competitive.
The Sun Devils finished third overall at UCLA’s Bubble Buster with 66 points. No. 18 NAU won with a 23-point showing followed by No. 27 host UCLA.
ASU will be back in a little more than a month for the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships. There was no better way for the Sun Devils to prepare for the big meet besides competing last Saturday.
“There were two big things for us,” men’s coach Louie Quintana said. “One was get some comfort with the course, knowing that we’re going to be back there in five weeks for the conference meet. And I think having that little bit of a study guide for the course is huge.”
It wasn’t their best running, but they were only points away from one of the Pac-12’s best, which shows tons on positives.
“Then knowing that we were eight points behind UCLA —who is ranked third in our region and one of the favorites for the conference title — and while running conservatively and some of our guys not having their best day, really gives us some hope that we can be competitive at the conference meet,” Quintana said.
Some other bright spots from last meet were redshirt senior Darius Terry and Kansas transfer Zach Zarda.
Terry earned an overall third-place finish after only being five seconds off of the two NAU winners, who both clocked in at 24:30.
Terry believed they could’ve won, but still left the meet with optimism.
“We got a little too far back, and if we would have went harder, we could have maybe caught UCLA and the team title, but it’s the first race of the season and we executed well,” Terry said.
Zarda looked very impressive and comfortable in his first meet as a Sun Devil. The former Kansas Jayhawk finished sixth overall with a time of 24:43.
All signs point to the fact that he’ll have a significant part in this team’s success, and that he has made a very nice transition.
“Just having a coach that has that confidence in you makes you confident in yourself out there on the course,” Zarda said. “I couldn’t have asked for better teammates and coming from a great school in Kansas to a great school here — great teammates in both places — they’ve really made the transition easy for me and really made me feel part of the team right away.”
2011 NCAA All-West Region senior Nick Happe finished in 14th place. Redshirt sophomore Garrett Baker-Slama and redshirt freshmen Ryan Herson, who finished 21st and 22nd respectively, followed up Happe.
The men’s team won’t run again until the Grand Canyon Invitational in Goodyear on Oct. 6, where it most likely will not run its “A” team.
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