The ASU track and field team was in a much different position last year heading into its first championship meet.
The men were ranked No. 7, and the women weren’t ranked at all.
This year is a different story, and the potential for success may be at an all-time high for both men and women when they compete in the MPSF Championships in Seattle.
The women’s team has moved from being unranked at the beginning of the indoor season to being No. 8 in the country.
Senior multi-competitor Keia Pinnick has been a key factor in the women’s success and has admired her team’s effort so far this season.
“I am so proud of the girls,” Pinnick said. “I’m really excited to be experiencing this success with them. We have risen high numbers, but as a whole, (we) don’t plan on settling until we get to the top.”
Pinnick, who’s ranked No. 16 in the 60-meter hurdles, will attempt to defend her MPSF championship.
Her score of 3,975 put her in the top spot for the pentathlon, which she ranks No. 2 in currently. However, Pinnick wants to win the 60-meter hurdles this season after finishing in second last season.
“(Our) main goal is to come out with a MPSF championship and help lead to that win,” she said. “We are making a name for ourselves, and this weekend will be the first big showing of what we really are trying to prove.”
While Pinnick competed in the 800-meter last season with a second place finish, sophomore distance runner Shelby Houlihan will also look to come away with the top title.
“I feel very prepared for this race, and I know I’m in better shape now than I was last year at this time,” she said. “I also have a little more confidence.”
She’ll look to improve as much as possible on her already impressive No. 7 ranking in 800-meter, but she also will be having trying something different in Seattle.
“I feel excited and a little nervous going into this championship meet, because I’m running the mile for the first time this season,” Houlihan said. “To be able to win the mile, I’m going to need to stay focused throughout the race and stay up near the front.”
Men get back on track
After starting the season at No. 6 in the rankings, the ASU men’s team has fluctuated meet by meet.
The Sun Devils broke the top five for three weeks before falling eight spots last week to No. 13, where they sit currently.
Redshirt junior sprinter Ryan Milus was among the top in the country in the 60-meter for weeks before dropping to No. 21 recently.
However, Milus hasn’t been completely healthy during the last few meets according to coach Greg Kraft. Milus will attempt to climb back into the top 10 or better with an elite performance in Seattle.
Redshirt senior distance runner Nick Happe will run with his No. 10 ranking in the 3000-meter and No. 39 in the mile to the first championship. Happe placed sixth last season in the 3000-meter, but an improvement is expected as he has already outdone his time that he recorded at last year’s meet.
In the pole vault, No. 8 redshirt junior Derick Hinch is another competitor that the men’s team will lean on moving forward. Hinch will look to improve on his fifth place finish from last year’s championship meet.
Kraft expects big things from both the men and women’s teams in their first championship meet. He stated the men need to find the groove they were on early in the season, while the women should continue their recent success.
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