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ASU track and field team looks to build on strong winter season heading into spring

Coach Dion Miller is confident about the team following an impressive showing in indoors with national championship titles, school records, staff changes and more

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Sun Angel Stadium is pictured on Thursday, March 16, 2023 in Tempe.

After a winter indoor track and field season where Sun Devils broke school records, claimed national championship title and welcomed back one of the best college throwers, ASU track and field coach Dion Miller is feeling optimistic about the team as the outdoor track and field season arrives.

"This team has a lot of potential in terms of finishing point-spread nationally-wise," Miller said at a February practice. "We've worked the last three years to build the team so we can actually contend for a top-10 finish."

"I don't think Arizona State has seen a team like this in a long time," he said. "When you can break a 19 year old record in the men's 4x400-(meter relay), it tells you a little bit about our sprint group, what we're doing on our track. Turner (Washington) has been carrying the load for a long time being a four-time national champion. It's definitely coming together."


On the women's side, the program is dealing with the departure of school record-holder and three-time NCAA champion thrower Jorinde van Klinken, who transferred to Oregon in the offseason. Miller said her departure was "a blow" to the women's team. Van Klinken, the Dutch national record holder in discus, left for the Pacific Northwest alongside former Sun Devil throws coach Brian Blutreich.

"In the sport of track and field, it's so individualized," Miller said. "Obviously she had a great run here at Arizona State. As the head coach, when I made the decision to bring her, I knew she was going to do the things she did. With her coming back for her last indoors and competing at Oregon, she felt it was best to transfer and be with her coach that went on to the University of Oregon as well."

Ryan Whiting, a coach Miller said was "tremendous," replaced Blutreich.

Miller said one name to keep an eye on is sophomore sprinter Adriana Tatum — who finished last year as the fourth-fastest freshman in the Pac-12 for the 100-meters with her time of 11.64. Tatum found even more success in the 200-meters, where she ran 22.77 at the NCAA West Preliminary Round, the second all-time fastest in program history.

Tatum will compete on the 4x100-meter relay team. The offseason focus for the second-year athlete centered on her starts, trying to get her out as quickly as possible in the first three steps. 

"I feel very blessed and honored that I was able to accomplish as much as I did last year," Tatum said. "All glory to the man upstairs. I'm just hoping that I stay healthy and I can continue to keep doing good. No injuries, that's the main goal. Stay healthy and help my team as much as possible, because that's the goal."

Senior Distance Lena Lebrun runs on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson. 

Another name looking to contribute is senior distance runner Lena Lebrun.

Lebrun put herself on the school's all-time list in two different events last season, in the 1,500 meters and the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Lebrun's time of 4:19.97 is seventh in school history for the 1,500-meters and her 10:10.56 is fourth in school history for the 3,000-meter steeplechase.


The men's team is the deepest it has been in quite some time with athletes who can score points on a national level in the sprint, distance, throw and jump events.

Junior sprinter Justin Robinson has been the headliner in the winter, claiming the 400-meter title at the USATF Indoor Championships on Feb. 18, running a new school record time of 45.40. Robinson became the fifth Sun Devil in school history to claim a USATF championship.

READ MORE: ASU junior sprinter wins track and field indoor national championship in 400 meters

"I was very proud of Justin and his accomplishments," Miller said. "Justin works extremely hard, he's an extremely focused individual. That was one of our goals, how to handle those big expectations in terms of big performances at championship meets. This is just the beginning for Justin Robinson."

ASU runner Justin Robinson competing at the Baldy Castillo Track and field meet on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium.

Robinson aims to be a contender in the 400-meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June at Texas. He'll also hope to lead the 4x400-relay team at the national meet as the squad consisting of Robinson and seniors Jalen Drayden, Gamali Felix and Jeremiah Curry who set the school record at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 11 with a time of 3:03.09.

Drayden, in the 100 and 200-meters, is another sprinter to be on the lookout for. He competed at the USATF Indoor Championships.

"It makes a big difference, being out there with some professionals, people that have been in my shoes before. ... Being able to beat some professionals, also beat some more collegians is giving me a big confidence boost," Drayden said. "Just knowing that I'm able to compete on that level and that I'm at that level."

In distance events, sophomore Dayton Carlson has continued to show in the 800-meter final at last year's NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Then freshman distance runner Dayton Carlson rounding the corner at Sun Angel Stadium on Friday, March  18, 2022 in Tempe.

Carlson, who holds the outdoor school record in the 800 at 1:46.72, now owns the indoor record. The Casteel alum ran 1:47.55 at the Tyson Invitational to set the new record. It's been quite the journey for Carlson at ASU, which cross country and distance coach Ryan Ray has watched from a few different vantage points.

Ray recruited Carlson when the coach was working as a volunteer assistant in 2020.The next year, Ray left to became the assistant coach at Arizona. This past fall, Ray returned to the Sun Devils as a full-time assistant before being promoted to head coach in December.

"It's been awesome, especially for Arizona, to have a stud like that stay in state," Ray said. "It's good for the state of Arizona, it's good for the high school teams to see that, the coaches, the athletes to look up to. When I recruited Dayton, I knew he was going to be special. But he's turned into something really cool."

The jumps group is led by junior Jeremy Cody, who competed at the USATF Indoor Championships. 

Then sophomore jumper Jeremy Cody stretching out to get over the pole at Sun Angel Stadium on Friday, March  18, 2022 in Tempe.

Cody did not get a mark in the high jump at last year's NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, but has set the bar high — literally — for himself this spring following the winter.

"I'm feeling ready to prove something, ready to make a point," Cody said. "I know the abilities that I have and I know the heights I am able to attain this season. I want to jump 2.27 (meters) and I want to win the outdoor national championships in high jump."

For the throwers, a familiar name is back. After deciding to retire, graduate student Turner Washington — who also signed with the professional wrestling company WWE as an NIL athlete in the offseason — made the decision to come back for one final season. 

"It means the world, means a lot to this group, that he can come back and perform one more year for Arizona State," Miller said. "We know he's got a bright future. But I'm very lucky and very blessed to have him back."

For Washington, his goal for the last go-around in a Sun Devil uniform is to the point: he wants to dominate his competition as he aims to make Team USA for the World Track and Field Championships in Budapest this summer. And he's vocal about it. "Turner Time" as he calls it.

"Going onto outdoors, I'm going to keep kicking everyone's ass," Washington said. "I don't care what my marks are. Going into (NCAA Championships), it's a different kind of story. It doesn't mean a thing if you don't got the ring.

"That national record outdoors, it's going to go down. I want to have my name attached to the NCAA indoor and outdoor (shot put) record, and set a mark that will probably never be beaten."

The Sun Devils are slated to begin their outdoor season at the Aztec Invitational held at San Diego State University on March 23.

Edited by Piper Hansen, Reagan Priest and Caera Learmonth.

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Logan StanleySenior Reporter

Logan Stanley is a senior reporter at The State Press. He previously served as the managing editor of the school newspaper at Eastern Washington University. He has four years experience as a freelance journalist and is a graduate student in the master of arts of sports journalism program. 

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