No. 6 track and field starts season with high expectations
With three national champions since 2007, indoor and outdoor track and field has become a sport to watch in the spring.
The men’s team has already run onto the national stage with a No. 6 preseason ranking.
Coach Greg Kraft expects nothing less than to get back on the championship track this season.
“It’s obviously important, even though it’s indoor season, to establish momentum,” Kraft said. “Our preseason ranking of No. 6 is probably fair … we’re pretty optimistic of what we’re capable of.”
The ASU men’s track and field team is returning redshirt senior thrower Jordan Clarke, who is one of the team's two individual national champions from last season.
Clarke set individual records in the shot put, sweeping the competition in the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships, but said the team has a chance to do it as well.
“They’re (the team) really excited,” redshirt senior thrower Jordan Clarke said. “We have a potential to win (a national championship) as a whole team.”
Clarke’s coach David Dumble is looking forward to the possibilities ahead for his returning national champion.
“He’s going to do something that very few people have done,” Dumble said. “He has a chance of winning two more titles…that’s five in a row.”
Clarke will also start the 2013 campaign on the Bowerman Award Watch List, which is considered the Heisman of track and field. He said he’s training harder than ever to have a repeat and bring home the prestigious award.
“I feel very honored and very fortunate and blessed to have great coaching and teammates around that are supporting what I’m doing,” Clarke said. “I actually just found out yesterday.”
For the women, redshirt junior thrower Anna Jelmini, sophomore distance runner Macy Bricks, redshirt junior jumper Constance Ezugha, senior multi-competitor Keia Pinnick and sophomore mid-distance runner Shelby Houlihan will be highly depended upon for the women’s team this season.
Kraft expects great things from the women’s team and anticipates a top finish come championship time.
“We have the pieces there,” Kraft said. “Our standard for us is always trying to be a top ten team.”
Bricks and Houlihan are just two of many cross-country competitors transferring their long distance talents over for the benefit of track and field.
The indoor track and field team starts the season off with an in-state competition up north in Flagstaff.
NAU will host its own invitational on Jan. 12 that will only include ASU.
Kraft intends for the entire team to participate and says it’s more of a warm-up meet for them than completely competitive.
“It’s really for us to see what our fitness is,” Kraft said. “It’s really a quiz to see where people are.”
The meet will provide the Sun Devils with their first indoor action of the year before traveling to College Station to face Texas A&M in two weeks.
Preparing for the Aggies is the primary goal for the Sun Devil track and field team moving forward.
“We want to emotionally get out of town and start competing and getting that mindset,” Kraft said. “We honestly won’t know what we have until after we come back from Texas A&M.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com