With the help of a sweep in all four of the relay events on Saturday, both the ASU men’s and the women’s track and field team finished in first place in the 2014 Arizona State Invitational in Tempe.
The men’s team finished the meet with 191 points, beating the second place team, Iowa, by 81.5 points. The women’s team ended the meet with 186 points, beating the second place team, UA, by 71 points.
The stars of the meet yet again were the relay teams for ASU. In both the 4×100 and the 4×400, Sun Devil teams won the event.
In the 4×100 race for the men, the team was helped by the return of redshirt senior Ryan Milus, who took the week off last week after the NCAA championships with their final time of 39.89 seconds edging out the team from UA. The women’s team of senior Asiah Gooden, junior Brianna Tate, senior Alycia Herring and freshman LaTroya Franklin took first edging out Iowa with a time of 44.78 seconds.
The men’s 4×400 team of senior Keith Cleveland, redshirt junior Devan Spann, senior Daveon Collins and senior Will Henry dominated in their win with a time of 3 minutes, 8 seconds beating the second place team, Adams State, by just more than six seconds.
The women’s team of junior Sara McDonald, senior Sarah Geren, Franklin and Tate completed the relay sweep for ASU and set a meet record in the event that was set back in 2010 by Texas A&M.; The team from Iowa led for most of the race before Brianna Tate, acting as the anchor, started her leg. ASU ended up finishing first in the race and setting a new venue record with a time of 3:33, breaking the previous record by two seconds.
Last week, ASU coach Ronnie Williams stressed that the coaches are always trying to have good relays. His tone was the same after the win Saturday.
“I think the emphasis on the relays and in our training is just being ready for the Pac-12 championship, regional championships and national championships,” Williams said. “But what was important for us today was to come out and get qualifying marks for each of out relays.”
Williams also mentioned many of the relay team members, such as Milus and Gooden, performed exceptionally well in their individual events as well on Saturday.
“It was a very, very nice start because it’s a big step forward,” Williams said.
Despite this being ASU’s second outdoor meet, it was the first for its indoor All-Amercans. One of those was redshirt senior Anna Jelmini who is also the reigning outdoor NCAA discuss champion. Jelmini had her first discuss event of the season on Saturday finishing second with a throw of 54.54 meters.
Another All-American making her outdoor season debut on Saturday was junior Shelby Houlihan who ran in the 800-meter race. Houlihan, who has been dealing with some flu-like symptoms, assistant coach Ryan Cole said, edged out Utah’s Rosalie Waller with a time of 2:05 for first place.
“Nice to get a win, she got a race under her belt,” Cole said. “We’ll get the sickness worked out and I think she’ll have a good outdoor season ahead of her.”
After having both the men’s and women’s team finish first at the meet, coach Greg Kraft seemed very pleased with the improvement his team had after the first outdoor meet.
“I think we made significant progress from the first meet to the second meet,” Kraft said. “People are getting used to rounds of competition and we’ve got roughly seven weeks to the Pac-12 championships so I was really pleased with how it went.”
Next weekend the team will send a few of the distance runners to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Stanford Invitational before the Sun Angel Classic back in Tempe the following week.
“I think we’ve really set the table and we’re really looking forward to our Sun Angel Classic which is kind of our marquee event,” Kraft said. “So overall I’m very pleased with what we’ve done.”
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