Both ASU men and women’s track and field teams will take their national rankings into the Husky and Kirby Invitationals.
The men’s team is led by No. 1 redshirt senior thrower Jordan Clarke, No. 7 redshirt junior pole-vaulter Derick Hinch, No. 2 redshirt junior sprinter Ryan Milus and senior Chris Benard who ranks No. 3 in triple jump and No. 16 in long jump. They will focus on little things to come away with victories.
“We’re a little dinged on the boys’ side,” coach Greg Kraft said. “I’m really pleased with the women. We’re really competing well across the board and made some positive steps.”
Along with host Washington, other schools such as UNLV, UC Davis, Oregon, BYU, Cal, Washington and Cal Poly will be competing in the Husky Invite.
To the south, the Don Kirby Invite is an annual meet at the University of New Mexico.
Kraft expects a great performance from the No. 5 men and will see what the team is really made of this weekend.
“We’ll know a lot about ourselves and the rest of this country,” Kraft said. “After this week, they’ll start dismissing last year’s marks.”
In the first month of the indoor track and field season, rankings have been calculated based on the first few meets this season as well as top marks from last year. The rankings don’t begin to primarily focus on this year’s stats until after the first few meets.
Kraft wants the members of the men’s team to make a move now more than ever. He doesn’t believe they have competed to their full potential and believes the talent will speak for itself this weekend.
“Ryan Milus, without a question in my mind, is one of the top 60-meter runners in the country,” Kraft said. “The competition hasn’t run off cleanly, and I think it’s negatively impacted some of his races. We look for him to make a move.”
Kraft also expects No. 28 senior 200-meter runner Chris Burrows and junior 400-meter runner Will Henry to be in contention.
Kraft said junior jumper Bryan McBride has had his best practice of the season and will be a dark horse in the triple jump.
Women moving up
The women have jumped up in the rankings after every meet, showing the rest of the country not to underestimate them.
After starting the season outside of the top 25, the Sun Devil women have moved into the No. 17 spot. They don’t intend to stop there.
“It’s definitely encouraging to all of us seeing (us) going up the rankings,” junior pole-vaulter Shaylah Simpson said. “But we are in no way satisfied with that. We know there is still a lot to work on.”
Simpson is one of the girls that Kraft expects great things from moving forward.
“Shaylah is a girl that needs to move up in the pole vault for us,” Kraft said. “If those things happen collectively, we’ll inch our way up into the top 10.”
Kraft spoke highly of his women’s team, crediting its hard work to get where it is now.
No. 12 Cal and No. 22 San Diego State will be two main competitors for the women’s team, thus providing for key opportunities on which to capitalize.
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