ASU repeats as Women's Pac-10 champion

Over the years there have been just a few dominant (win by 23 points) teams on the women's side of the competition (nine teams in 21 years) and only one of those teams, until now, competed in the last nine years – Stanford in 2001. The teams that dominate have a focus or overall plan that improves and develops the whole team. This is one of those teams.

Greg Kraft of Arizona State has that plan. His NCAA indoor team championship had scorers across the spectrum of events. He finds athletes that have focus and just need time to develop. He and his assistants turned basketball players into national champion steeplers (Kelly Strong). He sees what works and his hired people that fit into his system or a system that he wants to develop. His distance coach, Louie Quintana, was a product of the famed middle and long distance school Villanova. His throws coach used to throw for the continuously successful UCLA program (David Dumble).

Over the last 26 years Art Vanegas (1982- current for men, 1982 to 2005 for women) has led UCLA's male throwers to eleven national championships, 71 All-American awards and 29 Pac-10 champions. And on the women's side 23 national championships and 34 Pac-10 champions in 19 years (women have been part of Pac-10 for 20 years). The throws domination has led to 15 women's and 11 men's team Pac-10 championships in 19 years and two men's and five women's NCAA championships. In the summer of 2005 Art passed the reins of the women's throwers to multiple NCAA champion Seilala Sua and this year Jessica Cosby is running the group.

The throws success by UCLA is being copied by the tremendous talent of Sophomore Sarah Stevens and her junior teammate Jessica Pressley. Already the national leader and NCAA indoor Shot Put champion, she became the national leader in the Discus at 57.73m 189-5 to go with her win in the Shot Put (17.74m 57-7 ¾) on the first day. On the second day, if not for a foul on the last attempt in the hammer (@218 feet), she may have won the hammer also but had to settle for third behind Pac-10 champion Britney Henry of Oregon at 217-10 and 2006 NCAA runner-up Eva Orban from USC at 217-8. Pressley picked up valuable points in the Shot Put (second), Discus (fifth), and Hammer (fifth) and junior college transfer Tai Battle was sixth in the Discus and seventh in the hammer. A sixth by Becky Holley in the javelin and eighth by Jacquelyn Johnson led to 51 points from the throwers.

The Sun Devil's primary competition this year was Stanford. The Cardinal has developed an overall program that focuses on middle and long distance runners. Stanford has had recent Pac-10 success by adding sprinters and jumpers to their excellent distance runners. Unfortunately Stanford only got nine points in the throws (second by Dani Maier in the javelin and eighth by Melissa Yunghans in the Shot Put). Also in contention, but without the numbers to win, was USC (eleven points in the throws, both scorers in the hammer Eva Orban was second and Julia Rozenfeld was sixth). Their sprinters and jumpers kept them in the competition but they will have a better chance to challenge for a title at the NCAA meet.

At the end of the first day Arizona State and Stanford challenged each other in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and 10,000 meter run. Arizona State had won the first six Pac-10 steeple championships and Amy Hastings was the defending Pac-10 10,000 meter champion. With the last water barrier in front of her, Corey Randall of ASU had 150 meters, the barrier and the Pac-10 championship in front of her. She fell going over the barrier and the Sun Devil women lost for the first time in this event at the Pac-10 championships. First Sara Trane of WSU passed her and ran 10:19.89 for a school record. She was followed by Lindsay Allen from Stanford at 10:20.91 and Randall finished third.

The 10,000 meters was not much better as defending champion Amy Hastings led for 22 laps until being passed by Teresa McWalters of Stanford. The enthusiasm initiated by the throwers had been tempered by lacking results in the distance races. Stanford needed the good track performances to make up for deficiencies in the field. Stanford had only scored a third of a point in the high jump (Lauren Stewart 1.70m, 5-7 behind Rhonda Watkins of UCLA 1.84m, 6-0 ½) and Erica McLain was second in the Long Jump to Watkins (6.62m, 21-8 ¾) but freshman (and third seeded) Griffin Matthew had not recovered from her hamstring injury and did not score in the Long Jump.

On Sunday, the women's Hammer was almost completed before Carol Rodriguez lined up as the anchor for the 4x100 meter relay. Stanford needed to get upsets all day long to win this meet and this was their first opportunity of the day. Stanford's 400 meter relay team had been close to USC last year and even though they lost Chauntae Bayne, USC had lost 2006 Pac-10 100 champion Virginia Powell. There was a chance for an upset. USC never gave Stanford a chance in the relay. They increased the lead every leg until the third leg closed the margin a little but Carol Rodriguez closed out the relay with her anchor for USC (44.20 to 44.78).

Stanford needed a big score in the 1500 to have a chance. Three Stanford entrants faced off against the defending NCAA champion, Amy Lia of Washington. Three Stanford runners ran away from the rest and Ariana Lambie (4:19.12) led a Stanford sweep with Lauren Centrowitz second and Alicia Follmar third. 24 points put Stanford back in the team race. The 100 hurdles had three USC contestants and surprise freshman Sun Devil Jasmine Chaney. Candice Davis of USC ran 13.04 to led the trio (fourth and fifth) ahead of Chaney (sixth).

As the women's 400 was about to start, Erica McLain, tried to give inspiration to her teammates with an American NCAA record jump in the triple jump 14.15m, 46-5 ¼ that moved her to fourth on the all-time collegiate list and fifth on the all-time US list. USC was getting desperate after insufficient performances in the hammer and less than expected performances in the hurdles. Myra Hasson had to have a big run. Nicole Leach of UCLA was the favorite and went out fast but was chased down by Latosha Wallace of ASU (both timed in 51.97) a pr for both and fourth for Wallace on the all-time Sun Devil list. UCLA runners followed in third and fourth ahead of Hasson and moved UCLA into a chance of getting third ahead of USC. Bridgette Williams of ASU finished sixth. 13 points by ASU eliminated Stanford from having a shot as ASU now had 110 points , UCLA with 72.5 and Stanford had 63.33 and USC in fifth with 50 points with several events to go.

USC completed expected one-two finishes in the 100 and 200 by Carol Rodriguez (11.29w/23.33w) and Jessica Onyepunuka (11.37w/23.49w). Collegiate leader Alysia Johnson of California ran away (2:01.74) from a field separated by a collision by Mackenzie Pierce of Cal and Allie Bohanon of UCLA. The first three finished almost 3.25 seconds ahead of the rest of the runners. Second ranked Nicole Leach of UCLA ran an impressive race (55.95) less than an hour after her 400 meter personal record. She defeated Sun Devil Latosha Wallace. The Triple Jump finished with McLain the winner ahead of an unexpected third, fourth and seventh place finish by Bruins. Now Stanford could be passed for second by a surging Bruin team.

A three-four finish by Stanford (Jakki Bailey and Janice Davis) put the score at Arizona State 118, Stanford 107.333, USC 107 and UCLA 99.50. Gabriela Duclos (third ranked collegian) of Arizona won the pole vault, 4.20m 13-9 ¼, defeated April Kubishta of ASU (fourth ranked) 4.10m, 13-5 ¼. A fourth by Tara Ross of UCLA in the javelin behind Rachel Yurkovich of Oregon (53.32m, 174-11) in addition to pole vault points put UCLA in position to pass Stanford after ASU had sewn up the race. ASU 133, Stanford 115.333, UCLA 110.5. UCLA had to hope that the toll of Lambie's 1500 and the 10,000 meters from the previous night would allow UCLA's runners (Claire Rethmeier and Ciara Viehweg, and Lauren Jirges) to run better that Stanford and that UCLA may have better success in the 4x400 relay.

That hope was not to be. Amy Hastings of ASU led a group including Ariana Lambie and Anita Campbell of Washington to a fast pace but Lambie eventually passed and ran away with the race in 15:57.59. Hastings, Ali Kielty and Jenna Kingman of ASU finished second, fourth, and seventh respectively and Katie Harrington of Stanford finished fifth. Now Stanford had second sewed up. Top seeded ASU won the 4x400 meter relay 3:33.14 and closed out the meet. ASU 158, Stanford 134.33, UCLA 118.5 and USC 113.

Oregon finished seventh (61 points), 6.83 points outside of fifth, due to having a young team and some injuries (Rebeccah Noble and Ashley McCrea). Wins by Henry and Yurkovich were supported by third place finishes by Javelin thrower McCrea (45.83m 150-5) and Zoe Buckman in the 800 (2:07.48), a fourth place finish by Keara Sammons in the 10,000 meters (35:51.13). Also scoring was Emily Enders in fifth in the pole vault (3.90m, 12-9 ½) as was Kara Meeuwsen in the Javelin (44.89m, 147-3), sixth place finishes by Kalindra McFadden 5115 points in the heptathlon and Nicole Blood in the 1500 (4:25.24), a seventh place finish by Zoe Nelson in the 10,000 (36:22.18) and sixth in the 5,000 (16:50.42) in a new personal record. Oregon had several eight place finishes including a personal records by Lucy Cridland in the Discus (49.46m, 162-3) and Irie Searcy in the 400 (54.79, a 1.35 sec pr), a great double for Keara Sammons in the 5,000 (16:57.87) and the 4x100 (46.73) and 4x400 (3:54.45).

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