ASU track and field hosts premier talent in Sun Angel Classic

Starting April 10, the biggest track meet of the season for ASU comes to Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe.

ASU’s annual Sun Angel Classic begins Thursday, and with it comes some of the best high school and college track and field teams in Arizona and the nation.

The most talented team competing at the event will almost certainly be Texas A&M;, who makes the trip to Tempe for the first time this season. In the most recent poll released Tuesday by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the Aggies had the fourth-ranked men’s team and the first-ranked women’s team. ASU’s men fell out of the top 25 in those rankings with the women remaining No. 21.

“The marquee team coming in without question will be Texas A&M;,” coach Greg Kraft said. “They’ve won multiple national championships, swept both the men’s and women’s national championship.”

Aggie coach Pat Henry has been coaching track and field since 1987 and has won a number of national championships with Texas A&M;, LSU and Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas. Henry’s most recent national title came last season in the 2013 NCAA outdoor national championships.

“Pat Henry is as legendary as they come in our sport,” Kraft said. “So for him to bring his team here is a bit of a compliment for our program, because I think he seeks out competition that tests his team, and I feel like we have two elite teams at least on the relays, so we get a chance to measure ourselves.”

Another school that figures to bring some good competition this weekend is Penn State. Its men’s team is currently ranked 20th with the women’s team being ranked 14th.

Some of the other schools scheduled to participate this weekend are Boise State, NAU, UC Davis and UC San Diego.

What makes the Sun Angel Classic different from other meets at ASU during the outdoor season is the inclusion of high schools in the competition. Kraft said he thinks this event is great not only for ASU but for the community as a whole.

“It’s a neat one for the community with the bantam races and wheelchair races, high school races, so it’s a neat event,” Kraft said.

The Sun Angel Classic begins Thursday morning in Sun Angel Stadium with some of the high school athletes competing in qualifying races and field events throughout the day.

The event continues the following afternoon with some of the collegiate events beginning with the hammer throw at noon and the 5,000- and 1,500-meter races for men and women that evening. The meet will conclude Saturday with a full day of events for both the high school and college athletes both on the track and in the field beginning at 10 a.m.

The Sun Angel Classic is ASU’s final home meet of the season. Next up following the Sun Angel Classic is the Mt. SAC Relays beginning April 17.

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