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Cross country places near top in 2 events

The ASU cross country team competed in two separate events this weekend, and the results of each event were everything ASU hoped for.

At the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., the men took third place while the women finished fifth.

At the ASU Invitational in Mesa, both squads finished first overall.

In South Bend, the unranked men’s team finished third overall, ahead of six ranked teams.

Senior Brandon Bethke finished second overall in the men’s 8K with a time of 23:45, only one second behind the race winner.

For ASU coach Louie Quintana, Bethke’s great race was no surprise.

“Brandon is one of the best distance runners in the NCAA right now,” he said. “[He] expects to be in contention for a win every time he laces them up this fall, and so do I.”

Junior Ben Engelhardt (24:11) finished 15th overall, while juniors Jeff Helmer (24:33) and Patrick Milloy (24:34) finished 40th and 41st overall, respectively.

“I was pleased with how we fought through the race,” Quintana said. “I thought Engelhardt ran with great confidence and poise. Helmer and Milloy ran solid, but they both are more than capable of running with Engelhardt. They need to close the gap and when they do that this team can be really good.”

Despite missing three key runners, the No. 13 women’s squad stayed tough and finished fifth overall, ahead of two teams that were ranked higher than them going into the race.

“That’s the incredible thing about our program,” Quintana said. “No matter who is in our personnel, the group continues to train well and race with pride. Getting fifth and being shorthanded gives me great confidence the rest of the way.”

Senior Kari Hardt, a returning All-American, finished 18th overall in 17:10 to lead ASU, and junior Anna Sperry (17:11) finished 21st overall to round out the Sun Devils in the top 25.

Sophomore Lindsay Prescott (17:22) finished 31st, and junior Cherise McNair (17:33) finished 44th to round out ASU’s top finishers.

At the ASU Invitational, the five men for ASU finished in the top 13, while five women finished in the top 12 to give ASU the title in both races.

“I was really happy with winning both team titles at our home meet,” Quintana said. “Our depth on both sides continues to get better and better.”

The men were led by sophomore Daniel Lovell, who finished third overall with a time of 14:29.7.

Redshirt freshmen Mason McHenry (14:42.2) and sophomore Cameron Liston (14:45.6) finished sixth and eighth, respectively.

For the women, junior Briana Smith led the way by finishing fourth overall in 17:32.6, and redshirt freshman Natasa Vulic came in fifth (17:34.5).

“Briana Smith was a tremendous surprise on the women's side,” Quintana said. “I'm extremely thrilled for her.”

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