The ASU women’s cross-country team fell short of expectations last Thursday, when it placed 10th in the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.
The Sun Devils ran their full “A” squad for the first time, but had some trouble with it being a shorter distanced course.
Women’s coach Ryan Cole said they had expected themselves to finish somewhere in the top five when looking at the quality of other teams prior to the race. Cole said he felt surprised by a few teams.
No. 2 Florida State won the race. The only other Pac-12 team entered in the meet, Washington State, finished last of all 18 teams.
Having proper preparation is crucial, and that might’ve been something the Sun Devils lacked a bit of going into the race.
“When you’re preparing for some modest courses that are 6,000 meters at the end of the season, sometimes you’re not as sharp and you’re not as ready to handle a quick pace in September,” Cole said of the shorter 5,000-meter course they ran on last Thursday. “So I don’t think we were necessarily quite as prepared for that type of course like maybe some other teams, but at the end of the day it’s still a race and you’ve got to be competitive.”
The Sun Devils still returned to Tempe with a few bright spots.
Sophomore Shelby Houlihan ran for the first time since her season-opening win at the George Kyte Classic, placing 13th overall. Houlihan has led the Sun Devils at every event she has competed in at ASU.
Senior Natasa Vulic crossed the line next for the Sun Devils, immediately followed by true freshmen Adriana Olivas.
“Adriana Olivas ran really tough, and we learned that she is going to be able to compete the way we thought she could in the recruiting process, so I was really pleased with that,” Cole said. “Natasha Vulic (ran) with a lot of poise, which we expect from one of our seniors.”
Although the Sun Devils didn’t come out with the exact results they wanted, they learned from the race, which is essentially the most important thing at this point in the season.
“We learned we have a pack that we thought we did. But the pack has to be a little further along in the race and we have some experience under our belt for the rest of the year,” Cole said.
ASU competes next weekend at the Grand Canyon Invitational, where it will most likely run its “B” team.
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