ASU cross-country bids for national recognition at Pac-12s
After receiving some national attention, it seems like an appropriate time for ASU cross-country to see a breakout meet.
There’s no better time than this coming Saturday’s Pac-12 championships in Valencia, Calif.
The women’s team has performed under expectations so far this season.
ASU hasn’t had a particularly strong showing yet this year, but having one this weekend or next weekend at NCAA West Regionals would be very crucial.
“Overall, we’d like to beat UCLA and hopefully further our case for the NCAA championships and build momentum for the regional meet,” women’s coach Ryan Cole said. “We haven’t shown our fitness in our races so far, so we feel pretty confident that the fitness is there, and we’re close to having that come together.”
The women’s middle pack has been inconsistent all season. Finding that consistency is what could separate this team from mediocrity.
“We need our middle group to run a little bit further up into the pack, so our 2-3-4 (runners) really needs to get a little further ahead of where they’ve been running this year,” Cole said. “I’m very confident that those girls are capable of doing that.”
The Sun Devils’ top-runner, sophomore Shelby Houlihan, has performed very well, pacing the Sun Devils in every meet she was entered in.
The four top teams in the Pac-12 — Colorado, Stanford, Oregon and UCLA — are ranked in the coaches’ poll. Simply finishing around the same times as those teams, rather than beating them, could show the high caliber racing ASU is capable of.
“All nine teams are quality teams, and we just need to go out there, race hard, race with some poise, some composure, have discipline on the course, and I think we’ll be really excited about the results,” men’s coach Louie Quintana said.
ASU knows it has started off under the radar and may be slowly getting more attention, Quintana said.
“As results have shown, we’re getting better and better and we’re moving up the national poll,” Quintana said. “And that’s an important piece as we’re moving forward, and I know we’re very close. We’re poised to have a great race this weekend.”
Redshirt senior Darius Terry is expected to be a top runner this meet, as well as senior Nick Happe.
Terry knows how important it is for him and Happe to record solid finishes for the team.
“We need to do better than we did at Wisconsin and establish presence up front and run with the guys we know we’re capable of running with,” Terry said.
Different athletes on the team have stepped up all year. Having multiple runners step up in a single meet is what can put the Sun Devils over the top and to the NCAA meet.
“We know if we all do what we’re capable of doing, we’re going to the show, and we’re going to perform well there," Terry said.
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