The ASU men’s and women’s track team finished its first outdoor meet of the season Saturday at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe.
The stars of the second day of the Baldy Castillo Invitational were the men’s and women’s 4×100 relay teams. On the men’s side, the team of sophomore Trae Armstrong, senior Will Henry, redshirt junior Devan Spann and senior Keith Cleveland took first in the race in a thrilling finish.
In the last leg of the race, Cleveland was able to overtake Oklahoma’s Nathaniel Winfrey and give his team the first place with a time of 40.08 seconds. This race was even more impressive when you consider this relay team is more used to the longer 4×400 race, and yet was still able to get the victory on Saturday.
On the women’s side, the team of sophomore Jasmine Gibbs, senior Alicia Herring, senior Asiah Gooden and freshman LaTroya Franklin came back from fourth to second in their race finishing with a time of 44.95 seconds in what was one of the most thrilling finishes of the day. The winners of the race, the relay team from the University of Kentucky, edged out the ASU team by the slimmest of margins, finishing the race in 44.94 seconds.
“One of the things we always pride ourselves in is we always have to have good relays here at Arizona State,” assistant coach Ronnie Williams said. “We want to have a relay that is capable of winning a conference championship or being in a top position in the NCAA championships.”
In the 4×400 relay for the men’s team, the coaches decided to go with the “B” team to give some athletes work that they may not have otherwise had. That group finished first in their heat with a time of 3 minutes, 18 seconds but placed fifth overall.
“We put some guys out there, we put them in a different role than they’re accustomed to,” Williams said. “It’s going to help them individually and it’s also going to help the team.”
The women placed second again in the 4×400 with a time of 3:39 again being edged out by Kentucky by a couple hundredths of a second.
“It’s important for us to start the meet and give the team momentum and it’s important for us to be able to come out here and close it down,” Williams said.
The Baldy Castillo invitational included a full schedule of field events as well and coach Greg Kraft was pleased with how his team performed there.
“It bodes well for our team,” Kraft said. “Because we have a presence then in all of the events when we go to the conference championship.”
The Sun Devils started the meet on Friday with one man and three women in the top 10 in the hammer throw and continue to place well in the field events on Saturday, Kraft knows that the team needs to be that versatile if they want to achieve the goals they set each season.
“It’s always kind of an evolution,” Kraft said. “One of the things that you have to be if you want to be on a championship team is you need to be well rounded.”
Kraft said that often when they recruit athletes they ask them to have “a multiple skillset,” for example asking a shot put thrower to also throw the discuss and the hammer.
There will be no break for the Sun Devils this week as they get right back into competition next weekend with the Arizona State Invitational, the team’s second straight home meet in Sun Angel Stadium.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bill_slane