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Mixed results for ASU at NCAA race

The ASU cross-country teams had mixed results over the weekend in Terre Haute, Ind., at the NCAA Pre-National meet, garnering points for potential at-large bids at the NCAA National meet next month while also seeing some promising runners fall short of expectations.

The men’s team entered the race ranked 19th in the country and came away with a sixth-place finish out of 35 teams, while the No. 17 women’s team finished 10th out of 37 teams.

ASU coach Louie Quintana said he felt both teams could have performed better, particularly the women’s squad.

“Both teams left the course feeling we didn’t run our best,” Quintana said. “The men were ranked seventh in our race and finished sixth, only 20 points out of fourth, and the women were also ranked seventh in their race and finished tenth, only 10 points from eighth.

“The women really went for it and put themselves out there. That’s a big step for this group, and going out hard will pay off in the end.”

A total of 237 runners participated in the men’s race, while 247 runners participated in the women’s race.

Senior Brandon Bethke continued to cement his status as one of the top runners in the entire country, finishing sixth (23:49.4) to lead the men’s team. However, Quintana felt Bethke could’ve run better.

“Brandon ran strong,” Quintana said. “He has been training well and is still unsure about his cross-country potential. Today he ran too safe.

He knows he needs to take some risks if he is going to challenge for a Pac-10 title in two weeks.”

Two other Sun Devils placed in the top 50. Junior Ben Engelhardt finished 26th overall (24:12.0), while junior Jeff Helmer finished 45th (24:28.4).

Rounding out the scoring for ASU was junior Patrick Milloy, who finished 62nd (24:40.0), and true freshman Nick Happe, who finished 93rd (25:01.4).

“The men were extremely solid,” Quintana said. “We got a great day again from Engelhardt, and Helmer is starting to close the gap, and that’s huge for our team. Milloy was solid, but we need him and Happe to move up and be closer together. They were solid today, but we know that they can be better.”

The women were led by senior Kari Hardt, who is trying to earn All-American honors for the second consecutive year. Hardt finished 11th overall (20:58.8) and was the only Sun Devil to finish in the top 50.

Sophomore Lindsay Prescott finished 56th (21:41.4), senior Angela Spadafino finished 67th (21:47.4), junior Anna Sperry finished 86th (21:59.5) and sophomore Kauren Tarver finished 105th (22:12.0) to round out the scoring for ASU.

The finishes for Prescott and Sperry were disappointing, Quintana said, but he said he knows they will get better.

“Anna and Lindsay went out hard to really establish themselves as players at the national level, and they crashed and burned,” Quintana said. “But they have the talent to continue to put themselves out there.

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