Houlihan qualifies for NCAA Championships

Sophomore cross-country runner Shelby Houlihan prepares for the Artichoke Invitational at a practice on Sept. 6. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

Both ASU cross-country teams missed the cut for the NCAA Championships while sophomore star Shelby Houlihan’s fourth-place individual finish qualified her for nationals at the NCAA West Regionals on Friday.

Houlihan clocked a time of 19:50, which broke the previous record she held for the fastest Sun Devil time in a 6,000-meter race.

As a team, ASU finished 12th and didn’t qualify for nationals.

“We knew we needed to be better than 12th to make it to the NCAA Championships,” women’s coach Ryan Cole said.

Sophomore Macy Bricks finished next for the Sun Devils, followed by redshirt senior Natasa Vulic.

Houlihan’s race was the seventh-best finish in ASU history at the NCAA West Regionals, and she will run at the NCAA Championships as an individual competitor.

“To be up near the front of that race — like Shelby was — was a tremendous feat, and she finished off the race very well,” Cole said.

Fourth place and ninth place were only four seconds apart, he said.

“She closed down well and really did a good job throughout the entire race.”

 

Men take sixth place

ASU finished sixth overall behind four other Pac-12 teams — Stanford, UCLA, Oregon and Washington.

For the second straight year, ASU was the 32nd team selected in a pool where only the first 31 teams selected make it to Louisville for the NCAA Championships.

“I felt like we had the right parts to put that together this year,” men’s coach Louie Quintana said.

Quintana said ASU is likely the least-funded cross-country school of the schools that placed in the top, which he feels is impressive.

“We do it with two scholarships,” Quintana said. “I think it’s a testament to those guys that we are always competing at a high level.”

Senior Nick Happe didn’t have his best race, and redshirt senior Darius Terry and graduate transfer Zach Zarda were plagued by injuries.

Happe finished 25th overall in his final collegiate cross-country race.

“It was mediocre,” Happe said. “I wasn’t up to my absolute potential. I didn’t run bad. I didn’t run great. There’s so many factors whether or not you’re going to have a good day, so it’s hard to pinpoint why.”

Terry had a sprained tendon on the bottom of his foot and his first day back at running was the day before Regionals, Quintana said.

Zarda partially tore his plantar fascia, which is a tendon on the hell of the foot, about 65 meters into the race, Quintana said.

Redshirt freshmen Ryan Herson finished second while redshirt junior Steven Schnieders placed third for the Sun Devils.

 

Reach the reporter at gdemano@asu.edu