ASU’s cross-country team used Saturday’s meet, the Mesa Thunderbird Classic, as another tune-up for a big meet next week in Madison, Wis.
Women’s: Underclassmen continue to impress
The women’s team ran freshman Miranda Kewley, junior Kayla Springfield, junior Payton Schutt and freshman Sydney Mierau, while freshman Natalie Krafft ran unattached in the 5k event.
The underclassmen continue to be the story for the women’s team, and the emergence of Miranda Kewley as a top runner has given coach Ryan Cole reason to be hopeful of the program’s future past this season.
“The freshman are coming in and they’re challenging and they’re running hard.” Cole said, “The freshman definitely have a vital role on our team and that’s why they came here.”
Cole said Kewley will participate at the Wisconsin Invitational. She earned the spot by coming in first overall for ASU at the Thunderbird Classic with a 5:41.6 mile and overall 17:41.3.
Kewley will run alongside veterans like Shelby Houlihan at the Wisconsin Invitational in arguably the toughest race of her young collegiate career.
Cole said in events like the one Saturday in Mesa, it’s less about having a strong finish and more about showing how hard you can compete.
“I wanted to see the girls compete hard and we saw that today so essentially that’s all we wanted,” Cole said.
Cole believes that running as a cohesive unit will be the main focus headed into the Wisconsin Invitational.
The team will rely on junior Shelby Houlihan, who won the Griak Invitational a few weeks back, for another great performance. Houlihan was also named National Athlete of the Week by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for her performance at the Griak.
Cole said the team needs Houlihan to continue to finish strong and for team to be successful.
“She needs to keep making good decisions at practice and away from practice, that’s the role of being a leader,” Cole said.
The ASU cross-country team travels to Madison, Wis. for the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct 19.
Men’s: Men’s XC team is focused heading into Wisconsin Invitational
The ASU men’s cross-country team is firing on all cylinders coming off a big third place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational and headed to another big challenge at the Wisconsin Invitational.
Saturday was a tune-up for a men’s team that has hit its stride combining the experience of veterans with the young blood of standouts like freshman Bernie Montoya.
ASU coach Louie Quintana ran freshman Nick Chatel, sophomore Tommy Williams, senior Kevin Rayes Saturday in Mesa. He also ran freshman Jack Balder and sophomore C.J. Albertson unattached in the 8K event.
Albertson and Balder each finished in the top 10, with Albertson completing a 5:01.6 average mile time with an overall time of 24:58.9.
Quintana said the group that ran today needs the experience and getting them into this event is crucial for future development. He said Albertson, who was a top recruit for ASU, has struggled in his first year and will be redshirted so that he can develop for the future.
“It’s more of a mental block in his racing, and so we’re trying to work through that, taking risks in his approach,” Quintana said.
Though he has had his issues, Quintana said he believes that Albertson will be able to get through his slow start and eventually be a big contributor to the team.
Quintana also noted that sophomore Tommy Williams and senior Kevin Rayes continued to impress him and today they showed how fast they can run.
“I was really impressed with Jack Balder, he’s a true freshman, I think he ran his way up to ninth in the race after being fairly conservative at the beginning,” Quintana said.
Quintana said the team is good, but that they just need to go out and race.
“Now it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and making sure we get to the line healthy and happy, we’re confident, we’re ready and we have high expectations,” he said.
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