Tempe, Arizona - The Arizona State University track and field teams will wrap up the 2013 indoor season this weekend as the crew heads to Fayetteville, Ark., for the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Sun Devils will be represented by 10 individuals (five men, five women) and one relay (women’s 4x4) this weekend as the team will look to finish the indoor campaign with a bang while building some momentum for the outdoor season. Events will begin on Friday, March 8 at the Randal Tyson Track. Chelsea Cassulo will be the first Sun Devil in action, taking part in the women’s weight throw competition at 12:30 p.m. CT while Jordan Clarke will be the first male in action as he looks to depend his shot put title beginning at 3:15 p.m. CT. Live video streaming will be available through ESPN3, NCAA.com and ArkansasRazorbacks.com over the course of the weekend.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
• The Sun Devil women are currently ranked No. 14 in the nation while the men sit in the No. 16 spot
• The Sun Devil track team returns four first-team indoor All-Americans (three men, one woman) and three second-team All-Americans (two men, one woman)
• Jordan Clarke enters the season on the Bowerman Preseason Watch List and is the defending NCAA Champion indoors and outdoors in the shot put
• This will mark the final competition for ASU triple jump school record holder Chris Benard
• The men’s team has finished in the top-10 in the NCAA Championships in four of the last five seasons, including an NCAA title in 2008 and a fourth-place performance last season
• The men became the sixth team in the history of the MPSF to defend their conference crown
• The Sun Devils won a combined eight conference titles at the MPSF Championships, five of them coming from Jordan Clarke and Christabel Nettey
• Clarke and Nettey swept the MPSF Athlete of the Meet awards on the men’s and women’s sides while Greg Kraft was named the MPSF Men’s Coach of the year for the second consecutive season
ESPN will be bringing exclusive coverage of the 2013 Indoor Track and Field Championships this year with broadcast coverage through ESPN3 beginning on Friday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. ET and continuing Saturday from 7-9:30 p.m. ET. A tape delay of the event will be broadcast on Sunday, March 17 from 7-9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Arkansasrazorbacks.com and NCAA.com will stream portions of the meet that are not being covered by ESPN. There will also be a live blog from the event hosted at www.TheSunDevils.com for those who don’t have access to the video streams.
IN THE RANKINGS: USTFCCCA TOP 25
Both the Sun Devil men and women dropped a couple spots in the final computer rankings of 2013 with the women sitting at No. 14 and the men at No. 16. Both teams are the third-highest ranked squads in the MPSF/Pac-12 behind Oregon and Arizona on both sides.
A LOOK BACK: MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS
The ASU men’s track and field team successfully defending its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship on Saturday, scoring 125.5 points and becoming the sixth repeat champion in the history of the event. The Sun Devil women took second overall with a solid 96 points and finished only behind No. 2 Oregon. Christabel Nettey was an absolutely superstar, scoring conference titles in the long jump, triple jump and the 60 meter hurdles. ASU also got conference titles from Jordan Clarke (shot put), Chris Benard (triple jump), Chelsea Cassulo (weight throw) and Shelby Houlihan (mile).
THROWING THEIR WEIGHT
Over the past 11 years, David Dumble has continued to bring in top talent and build the throws program at Arizona State, which has collected 14 total national titles, including five in the indoor shot put and one in the weight throw. ASU returns the reigning NCAA Champion in Jordan Clarke in the shot put this season as well as two-time All-AmericanAnna Jelmini in the shot put. In 2013, Arizona State is the only program at the Division I level to have four athletes ranked in the top-26 nationally in at least three different throwing events in Jordan Clarke (1st/shot put;26th/weight throw), Anna Jelmini (6th/shot put) and Chelsea Cassulo (14th, weight throw).
THROWING MORE WEIGHT
Jordan Clarke is primed to make history this season and could do some that not even ASU legend Ryan Whiting could do. Clarke has a chance to win five consecutive NCAA shot put titles by the conclusion of his senior year. The reigning NCAA Champion indoors and outdoors, Clarke launched the second-best throw in ASU history last season on his final attempt at the NCAA Championship with a career-best throw of 20.86m (68-5¼), giving him not only the title but the best mark by a collegian on the season. The mark made him the ninth-best American in the event in 2012. He would go on to defend his title in the shot put outdoors and has won three straight titles between the indoor and outdoor season. Clarke currently leads the nation in the event this season, hosting a throw of 20.59m (67-06.75) and is on the Bowerman Watch List, awarded to the top male and female track and field student-athletes in the nation each season. Should Clarke win out this year, he would become just the second individual in NCAA history to win five consecutive NCAA titles in the shot put. Only Kansas’s Karl Salb, who won every shot put title from 1969 to 1971, would have a better a record after winning six titles during his tenure as a Jayhawk.
JEL-ING AT THE RIGHT TIME
Junior Anna Jelmini has twice set personal records at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the shot put, each time earning herself an All-American honor. With two fifth-place finishes to her name indoors, Jelmini will look to challenge for the title again and score at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the third straight season this year. Her mark of 17.15m (56-03.25) was the second-best throw in ASU’s indoor history, until she demolished that at the NAU Tune-Up with a new career-best of 17.35m (56-11.25). Jelmini enters the weekend with the No. 6 seed in the competition.
Chelsea Cassulo is fast-becoming one of the best transfer pick-ups in recent history for the Sun Devils as the former UNLV standout has become a tough draw for anyone in the weight throw this season. Cassulo has won all six weight throw events she has competed in this season and will enter the weekend with the nation’s 14th-best mark with her career best of 20.84m (68-04.50) set at the Kirby Elite Classic a couple weeks ago.
TRIPLE THE EXCITEMENT
Senior Chris Benard set a mark of 16.50m (54-01.75) last season indoors that broke Dwight Phillips’ 12-year-old indoor school record in the event and would be good for a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships. Benard is taking advantage of his final year of eligibility, posting the nation’s seventh-best triple jump this season with a leap of 16.14m (52-1.50). This weekend’s triple jump competition will mark the last for Benard as a Sun Devil.
I’VE GOT A HINCH
Before the 2012 season, head coach Greg Kraft believe that one of the team’s dark horses this season could be incoming vaulter Derick Hinch, a transfer from Cuesta College. Hinch went on to take third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, becoming just the second Sun Devil to ever clear 18 feet and doing it twice on the season. Hinch opened up 2013 by vaulting to the No. 2 spot in ASU history with a leap of 5.41m (17-09.00) and he sits only behind Olympian Nick Hysong in both the indoor and outdoor school rankings at this point. He became just the second Sun Devil in indoor history to clear 18 feet indoors behind Hysong with a leap of 5.50. (18-00.50) at the Mountain T’s Invitational, a mark that currently ranks 10th in the nation. Hinch also took seventh at the 2013 USA Indoor Championships last weekend.
One of the key pieces to the Arizona State women’s effort last season was junior Christabel Nettey. Nettey earned second-team All-American honors in the long jump indoors last season and was a first-team selection outdoors. The senior has been one of the leading forces in helping the women climb to the top this season, punctuated by her school record setting long jump of 6.54m (21-05.50) at the Kirby Elite Classic - a mark that currently ranks third in the nation. Nettey was an absolute monster at the MPSF Championships, winning all three events she was entered in (LF/TJ/60mH) to score 30 points toward the team cause and earning herself MPSF Athlete of the Meet honors. The senior will only be competing in the long jump this weekend and will look to challenge for her first NCAA Championship.
SHELBY GT 800
Shelby Houlihan introduced herself to the world last season as she became the first student-athlete in Pac-12 history to sweep the cross country and track and field Newcomer of the Year awards. Houlihan clocked the third-fastest indoor 800-meter time in school history and backed it up by setting the school record in the indoor mile twice last season. Houlihan opened 2013 at the Texas A&M Challenge with a blistering time of 2:06.27 at 800m, the second-fastest time in school history indoors in the event but would go on to show that was just child’s play at the Husky Classic as she broke one of ASU’s longest-standing school records with a time of 2:04.94 - the fastest of any collegian in the field. The mark knocked off Kim Toney’s former school record in the event that had held since 1993. Houlihan is the lone member of the women’s squad competing in an individual running event this weekend.
KEIA TO THE CITY
Junior Keia Pinnick earned her first conference title at the MPSF Championships last year and was literally the first student-athlete on the descending order list to not get accepted to the NCAA Championships indoors but went on to be an All-American in the heptathlon outdoors. With a career-best score of 4,208-point performance in the pentathlon this season at Texas A&M - a mark that currently ranks second in the nation - Pinnick gives the Sun Devils their first viable national threat in the multi-events since Jacquelyn Johnson as she will look for her first All-American honor indoors this weekend.
OH, HAPPE DAY
Nick Happe had a career year during his junior campaign, setting three marks that ranked in the top-five on ASU’s all-time lists. Happe continued his tear by becoming just the third athlete in Sun Devil history to go under four minutes in the mile, breaking the 10-year-old school record formerly held by Brandon Strong in a time of 3:58.73, and going on the be a Second Team All-American in the event. Happe also clocked the third-fastest 5k time in school history at 13:54.51. Happe got the 2012-13 season off to a good start, earning All-Conference and All-Region honors during the cross country season while also being named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Not only is he getting it done in the classroom, but the senior logged his second indoor school record at the Husky Classic with his time of 7:52.18 at 3,000 meters to finish sixth overall in the event and third in his heat behind two 2012 Olympians.
LIFE OF BRYAN
Junior Bryan McBride continued to make impressive strides in the high jump, matching the school indoor record at the Kirby Invite with a leap of 2.26m (7-5.00) to match Kyle Arney’s mark set back in 1979. McBride set personal indoor records three times in 2012 and has improved by just under five inches from his best leap as a freshman. He ranked third in the nation last season and earned his first All-America award with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. McBride currently finds himself ranked 13th in the nation in the event with a season’s best of 2.22m (7-03.25).
IN THE TOP 10 ALL-TIME
During the indoor campaign, 20 student-athletes in set 26 marks that improved upon or moved into the top-10 in ASU historuy. ASU has nine newcomers to top-10 lists. Ke’Nya Hardge (60mH), Lauren Rose (60mH), Keia Pinnick (200m),Asiah Gooden (200m), Brianna Tate (400m), Carly Paracholski (800m), Zach Zarda (3,000m), Heather Arseneau (pole vault), Amber Pasternak (pole vault) Chelsea Cassulo (weight throw) and Joe Riccio (weight throw) all placed their stamp in the ASU record books for the first time in that particular event while Gooden (60m), Pinnick (60mH/800m/pentathlon), Nick Happe (3,000m), Christabel Nettey (60mH/long jump/TJ), Cameron Taylor (60mH),Anna Jelmini (shot put), Shelby Houlihan (800m), Shaylah Simpson (pole vault), Linda Kuenzi (pole vault) and Derick Hinch (pole vault) have each scored times and marks that improved upon their already-held placements on the top-10 lists. The 4x400-meter relay of Keia Pinnick, Alycia Herring, Sarah Geren and Brianna Tate has also set two marks this season that rank in the top-10 in school history.