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Cross-country set for big NCAA meet

After a successful showing at the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago, the ASU cross- country team heads back to Indiana this weekend for the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute.

Both the men’s team and women’s teams are ranked — the first time both teams have cracked the polls in the same week this season. The men will enter the meet ranked No. 19, while the women will enter check-in at No. 17.

The men were previously unranked but finished third at the Notre Dame Invitational, launching them into the national rankings.

“We’re looking to stay consistent with our performances,” Quintana said. “We just kind of go out there and stay steady and compete hard. We’ve done a good job keeping level-headed with our practices.”

A total of 72 men’s teams and 75 women’s teams will be competing this weekend, including nine Pac-10 teams in the women’s race and eight Pac-10 teams in the men’s race. “Were looking forward to it,” Quintana said. “We’ve practiced really good the past couple of weeks. I think they’re really excited. It’ll be nice to see how we stack up against the Pac-10.”

The men’s team will be led by senior Brandon Bethke, who made his Sun Devil cross-country debut at Notre Dame two weeks ago and finished second overall, only one second behind the first-place finisher. Joining Bethke will be juniors Ben Engelhardt, Patrick Milloy, Jeff Helmer, Zeke Van Patten, sophomore Dylan Hatcher and true freshman Nick Happe.

Another true freshman who has performed well, Doug Smith, will not be making the trip due to illness, but Quintana said he expects Smith to be ready to run next week.

The women’s side will once again be without some key runners. Junior Camille Olson will be redshirted this season due to injury, and returning All-American senior Ali Kielty has yet to run this season due to injury. Quintana said Kielty has looked good in preliminary workouts, but she is not expected to return for another couple of weeks.

Even without those two key runners, the women placed a respectable fifth in the Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago, led by the 18th-place finish of senior Kari Hardt and the 21st-place finish of junior Anna Sperry.

Both Hardt and Sperry will run this weekend, along with senior Angela Spadafino, junior Cherise McNair, sophomores Lindsay Prescott and Kauren Tarver and redshirt freshman Kate Lydy.

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