More than 5,000 athletes competed in the 37th annual Sun Angel Classic from Thursday April 7th to April 9th in Tempe, Ariz.
The competition had athletes from high school, college and even Olympic training centers. The Sun Devils went into this meet with more depth than usual as seniors Reggie Lewis and Jamol James junior LaTroya Franklin made their return to the track and field.
Head coach Greg Kraft said he was impressed with their contributions, especially with the men’s 4x100 team. He called it "extraordinary."
"Obviously, with a couple of outstanding pro teams and so, we lost a little bit of composure on our third exchange because they were a lot of guys going out," he said. "It was the first time they've been able to get on the track together so I think it bodes really well for the future for us and I definitely think that's a 4x100 that can be in the NCAA final and the Pac-12 champions."
This wasn't ASU's only strong event. Junior jumper Keyasia Tibbs broke the 16-year school record for triple jump with a leap of 12.96 meters. The previous record of 12.84 meters was set in 2000 by Valerie Williams.
She broke this record on Saturday and was a high point for the Sun Devils. 19 ASU athletes placed in the top-five in their respective events, but the team was missing competitors in several of them. They also failed to place runners in the top-ten in events including the open-200s and 800s, and the open 400-meter hurdle dash.
The lack of depth has been a lingering issue for ASU, and it continued to effect them this weekend.
Another issue was the rust some of the injured players. Reggie Lewis, coming off a quad injury, said his form was off and he was running like he did in seventh or eighth grade. He was disappointed in his performance but he wants to build off the meet and refine his technique.
These events came on the final day of the three-day long tournament. Thursday consisted of high school events, and pole vault and hammer throw events took place on Friday.
Instead of having any preliminary rounds, the hammer throws started in premiere heats. The top nine athletes were given six straight throws to prove competency.
One of ASU's competitors in the premiere heat was senior thrower Kyle Long. He finished in the top ten in each event he competed: discus (second), hammer throw (fourth) and shot put (eighth).
"I've kind of stepped out of my old competition and into the new one so I was really excited to start out with these guys that are top notch," he said. "It's kind of fun for me being like, a bit of a bottom feeder, I get to relax a little more because I'm not going in thinking I'm going to win, I'm really just going in, doing my best, keep working on what I work on at practice."
With five weeks until the conference championship, Kraft said he not only wants his team healthy but to build upon strong performances. He used graduate distance runner Jen Owen as a reference.
"(She) had a big (personal record) in our first outdoor meet, to come back and back that up, that's significant because if you're hitting at your PR, then you're gonna have another breakthrough so that was really important for Jen Owen," Kraft said.
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