ASU track and field has middling results at New Mexico Invite

The ASU track and field team traveled to New Mexico on Saturday for the 2014 New Mexico Invite. The men’s team struggled in Albuquerque, finishing last of the nine teams competing with 35.5 points. The women’s team found slightly more success finishing fifth with 66 points.

There were not many standouts in what was the team’s first experience on a banked track this season. Junior Shelby Houlihan did continue to impress, running a mile in just a shade over 4 minutes, 43 seconds, taking first in the race.

Houlihan had a good meet at the NAU Invitational Jan. 24 and 25 as well, running the 800-meter in 2 minutes, 9 seconds, taking first place. After NAU, Houlihan was not satisfied with how she performed and got right back to training to improve for New Mexico.

 
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“I was really kind of disappointed with that (performance at NAU) because I wanted to run faster but it was the first meet so I was a little rusty,” Houlihan said.

Freshman Kala Stone also performed well in the mile in New Mexico, finishing fourth with a time of 4 minutes, 54 seconds.

Redshirt senior Ryan Milus took second in the men’s 60-meter dash finals with a time of 6.67 seconds. Sophomore Jasmine Gibbs also placed second in the women’s 60-meter with a time of 7.46 seconds.

Gibbs also performed well in her field event, the long jump. She jumped a distance of 5.91, which was good enough for third place.

Both the men’s and women’s 4×400 relay teams had season best finishes in their races. The women’s team of junior Sara McDonald, freshman Troya Franklin, senior Sara Geren and junior Brianna Tate ran the race in 3 minutes, 39 seconds. While it was a season best it was only good enough for third place in the race.

The men’s team of senior Keith Cleveland, redshirt junior Devan Spann, sophomore Trae Armstrong and senior Will Henry finished third, too, with their season best of 3 minutes, 6 seconds.

Their race at NAU was a part of the reason why the ASU men’s team jumped up to No. 11 in the most recent U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association ranking.

“We can’t let that 11 get to our heads, we still have work to do,” Spann said. “There’s still 10 teams they have ranked higher than us so if we want to be the best we have to be better than those 10 teams.”

After clearing a career best 4.10 meters in the pole vault at NAU, senior Heather Arseneau improved even further by taking first place in the event in New Mexico with a new career best of 4.17 meters.

“I love New Mexico,” Arseneau said before the meet. “The runway is raised so you get a little bit more speed. The atmosphere is just really cool, the track is banked. The intensity is really high so that’s nice, I really like that.”

The Albuquerque Convention Center, where the meet was held on Saturday, will also play host to the 2014 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Indoor Track & Field National Championships.

Arseneau was very excited to get a good feel for the venue before that event.

“Especially at a national event, you want to be able to picture yourself winning,” Arseneau said. “You want to be to see everything about the jump, and to be able to have the opportunity to see the venue that you’re going to be jumping at for nationals is really cool.”

Reach the reporter at wslane@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @bill_slane