ASU cross-country season preview: Shelby Houlihan, Ryan Herson lead teams in 2014

Members of the cross country team participate in strides at a meet last season.

Members of the cross country team participate in strides at a meet in 2012. (Photo by State Press Staff)

With cross-country getting back underway, it’s time for things to get up and running in Tempe for Louie Quintana and the Sun Devils.

ASU is returning star runner Shelby Houlihan for her senior year after she finished fourth in the Pac-12 Championships in the 6K with a time of 21:19. Houlihan was named ASU’s 2013-14 Athlete of the Year. She returns with bests of 2:03.85 (800 meter), 4:26.39 (1,500 meter) and 4:39.56 (mile).

Houlihan would win the NCAA title in the 1,500 meter, and her eighth-place finish in the NCAA Cross-Country Championships was the highest placement by an ASU athlete since 2001. She was also named an All-American in cross country for the second straight year.

The Sun Devils will be without the services of assistant coach Ryan Cole, who left the program this summer to take the head coaching job at the Air Force Academy. Cole was one of the coaches who mainly worked with Houlihan, as he also served as the women’s distance coach at ASU.

Joining Houlihan as seniors on the roster are Macy Bricks and Shaina Corbin. Bricks has excelled for the Sun Devils since early in her collegiate career, finishing second among Sun Devils at the Pac-12 Championships during her freshman year. Corbin competed at the conference championships last year, placing 61st in the nation in the 6K with a time of 23:45.

The only other woman on the roster to return to ASU after competing in the Pac-12 Championships last year is junior Adriana Olivas, who competed in the 6K and recorded a time of 22:10.

On the men’s side, the Sun Devils bring back a trio of strong juniors in Ryan Herson, Daniel Wong and Jeff Bickert. Herson placed 22nd at the Pac-12 Championships last year after running the 8K with a time of 25:53. Wong also competed at last year’s Pac-12 Championships, placing 56th with an 8K time of 26:47. Bickert ran a 26:39 8K at the Pac-12 Championships last year, placing 56th in the conference.

In anticipation of their season, Quintana took the team to Camp Tontozona near Payson to practice away from the stresses of the media. The ASU football team also travels to the famous “Camp T” each fall in anticipation of its upcoming season.

Quintana has been head coach of the cross country program since 2001 and is looking to take the program back to elite form after leading the women’s team to fourth-place finishes in the country in 2005 and 2007. Perhaps the most famous ASU alumnus under Quintana is Kyle Alcorn, who became the first Olympian in school history after competing in the steeplechase. Alcorn was also a two-time national champion during his time as a Sun Devil.

Quintana and the Sun Devils kick things off with their first meet of the season in Flagstaff with the George Kyte Invitational on Sept. 6.

 

Reach the reporter at fardaya@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @fardaya15